This week I have a fun guest! He’s a writer and a musician and a some times comedian. And is fun to have around in the IWU group! So without making you wait any longer I give you Mike Cooley!
Well my real name is Mike. I have a lot of other names too. Some I write under and some I do music under. Online a lot of people know me as “Z” of Gotham Steel (metal band). Recently I have started to concentrate more on my fiction writing than on my music. I’m a very driven person. I keep very busy. I’m not good at single-tasking. I have a sarcastic sense of humor.
2.) How long have you been writing?
I think it all started in grade school. I had a choice between taking Speech Class and taking Creative Writing. I hated Speech, so I signed up for Creative Writing and thus began writing stories. I don’t think I’ve really ever stopped since. At that time I was also reading every single science fiction and fantasy book in the library (I was also in Reading Class).
3.) Do you have a preferred genre that you read? Is it the same as what you write?
I love reading many genres, but some of my favorites are science fiction and fantasy. I love near future, dystopian, time-travel, parallel reality, lovecraftian horror, paranormal and swords and sorcery stories.
I also write in many genres. I consider myself a science fiction short-story writer primarily (I think those sorts of stories are my strength), but–and this surprised me as well–my first novel ended up being Epic Fantasy.
4.) What is the title of your book and where can it be found?
I already have four books out, in different genres, but my novel is called The Crystal Warrior.
It can be found on here on Amazon
And on Smashwords
5.) Describe your novel in 15 words or less.
Larissya is thrust into a life and death battle to save the World.
6.) Where did the inspiration for your story come from?
To be honest I just started writing. The only thing I knew when I started was that there were going to be magic (I call them myrric) crystals, and that they would be painful and hazardous to use. I also knew that Larissya was going to get the first crystal on the first page, and that someone was going to die at the same time.
I get inspired by ideas and dreams and often see the beginnings of a story visually, in my head, before I write it. With the Crystal Warrior plot elements came to me as I wrote, but it is very much about the characters.
7.) How long did it take you to complete this novel from concept to published?
Eight years. But actual writing time on it was more like 8 months. I took a break after the first 45,000 words to write 300 songs for a variety of rock bands. Then, last year I dusted it off, re-read it, got my act together, and finished it during NaNoWriMo.
8.) When you sit down to write, how does that process go? Do you outline or just let it evolve?
I never outline short-stories, I just write. I used to be way more disorganized than I am now.
Now I use Scrivener, which helps me keep things more organized. I am working on the sequel
to The Crystal Warrior (it will probably be called Crystal Origin). As I go, I am writing chapter
outlines about 3 chapters ahead for each plot-line. And I also know the overall story-arc
(which I did not for the first book). Now that I have such a rich backstory book two is exicting
to write, and not nearly as hard as book one (where I was making everything up from scratch).
9.) Are there any aspects of writing you struggle with?
Staying focused. I often stop in the middle of a story to write another story. It used to stress me
out a lot. Now I just roll with it. As long as I am finishing stories I let myself work on many at
the same time.
10.) Are there any aspects that you simply glide through?
When I am in the zone the words flow like water. Certain things people warn against I just don’t do naturally (Like expository lumps or really long chunks of dialog). I’ve read so much that I think writing fast-paced action-oriented and visual prose rubbed off on me. So I guess I would say that showing the world as the characters interact with it without stopping the story is something I’m good at.
11.) What sets your book apart from others in the same genre?
Well it’s far better, naturally!I think what sets my book apart is my style. No one else writes like me. I don’t try to write like anyone else. Not that I am necessarily better than other writers. But my vision is my own. And I am immersed in my story. I know SO MUCH about my World that is not in the book. The real story starts 500 years before the first page of my book. I think readers can sense my enjoyment of the story through the words.
12.) What is the location of your story setting and why did you choose that place/time?
My story is set on Agorai. Which is an Earthlike planet somewhere far away from here in space–and perhaps time. I chose that setting because I didn’t want to have anything that tied the story to Earth. I wanted freedom to make up the entire planet, including plants and animals.
13.) Your main characters, tell me about them. What is their back story? How did they find themselves where they are now?
I have a lot of main characters! There are 38 characters in the book (counting bit parts).
Let me tell you about a few of them.
Larissya is the hero. The Legend of The Crystals is about her. She gets the crystal of foreboding at the beginning of the story and is immediately running for her life.
Talos is an Onan swordsman. He has studied the legend and comes to Larissya’s aid to help her fulfill her destiny. He also develops a great love for her and would give his life for hers at any time.
Adan is a boy. He is a lot older than he looks. Something happened to him long ago that turned him evil.
Ishak is a large translucent worm. Inside he has a blue viscous fluid that is magical.
14.) I’d like to know more about your book. Tell me all about it.
It’s a character-driven swords and sorcery tale. The legend is that a great warrior will gather the six crystals of power in order to save the World. Larissya is that warrior. All the crystals have a different power. And the magic is not without a price to pay. Trying to stop her is the Triad. They are evil and possess powers of their own. At its core, it’s about a quest. Larissya’s quest to grow up fast enough to save her friends even though she doesn’t believe in herself.
15.) What do you want readers to take from your writings?
I want them to smile and cry. And I want them to keep thinking about the story after they are done
16.) Are more books to follow or is this a stand alone?
There will be at least one more book after The Crystal Warrior. I’m working on it now. It should be done this year.
It’s possible I will also write a prequel or a book that will follow book two. It’s a BIG story and there’s a lot to tell.
18.) What are 3 random things about yourself that readers might like to know.
I’m a musician in several one-man-bands. I love mountain biking in the woods. I’m married to a belly dancer with a degree in physics. I’ve been to Egypt. And I have an 11 year old son. (that’s 5 things…)
19.) What do you do in your down time? For fun.
Much like the answers above, I like to read, play guitar, bike, and go to the cabin with the boy (for fishing and relaxation).
20.) How about letting me have a sneak peak at chapter one?
You can read the beginning online at Smashwords: Crystal Warrior book view