Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Interview with ML Archer on her fantasy book, The Calling of Mike Malone
The foundation for Mike Malone began years ago and grew out of an interest I'd had in the prophet Enoch. I'd known about him being 'translated' and taken to heaven by God since I was a little kid. But I never knew anything else about him. Even the Bible is very quiet about this prophet, and yet Hebrews 11:5 tells us this:
“By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.”
The only other person of whom God says He was pleased is Jesus Christ, so I think it's only natural to ask yourself how Enoch earned such praise. Long story short: I read the book of Enoch. Enoch lived a good life and honored God.
When I found myself teaching 4th grade and had a bunch of boys in my class who hated reading, I asked them, “All right, if you only want to read the kind of stories you like, then tell me what that story is and I'll write it.” Their answers were amazing. They wanted a very clear 'good-guy' and 'bad-guy'. There had to be fighting, a sword or two might be good, and maybe a dragon. There had to be strange or dark powers at work. There could be a girlfriend, but no love scenes. Also, if I could manage scientific, inter-dimensional travel, that would be good, and...and if there was a hint that maybe it could all be true, even better.
How many publishers did you contact before going with MuseItUp?
Oh, my goodness! About thirty. I would have sent it many more places if I had had the time. But the responses back were all very encouraging. They would say things like, “I feel as if I'm letting the wrong story get away, but financially, we have to go with...” and they would briefly state one thing or another. Those were from the secular publishing houses.
The most difficult, and critical houses were the ones in the CBA. (Christian Bookseller's Association.) I had a tough time trying to figure out what they hated more, the story or the doctrine or the language. The comments were very disappointing, such as, “You show a Catholic priest having more power than the Protestant pastor. Our readers won't like that.” And there were always comments about why didn't I know fallen angels were really demons...etc. Excuse me, they are not the same. I know the CBA does hold an important role, but not for me.
Did you contact any agents?
At least fifteen. Most of them sounded interested but were concerned over taking on an unknown in the sort of economic environment we were heading for. But their opinions were encouraging!
Prior to writing this book what other author credits did you have?
I wrote short stories. My favorite is a story I called, “Ellie.” It appeared in Fear and Trembling, a Christian Horror publication, where it received the following warning label...
“NOTE: This story contains content that may not be suitable for young readers, but it contains a message of caution for those who are mature. It is published as a warning, as an example of how dark some lives become when they ignore the Light.”
A warning label...in a horror magazine! 'Kinda makes ya proud! Feel free to check out Ellie at my on line portfolio right here.
You wrote a short story about a violinist,entitled Paint it Black. You say it, won an Editor's Choice award and was published in Coach's Midnight Diner. Can you give me some more details?
What attracted me to the Diner was this description of itself posted at the old website:
“The Midnight Diner is a hardboiled genre anthology with a Christian slant. No ABA restrictions on God, no CBA restrictions on reality. Didactic preachy works are dismissed unceremoniously; we're looking for high quality works that are uncompromising in craft, content, and quality.”
It appeared in their “Back from the Dead” issue. Of the many stories used for the anthology, mine and two others were 'Editors Choice' recipients. We received cash awards and elements from all three tales were used on the cover here, along with pictures of the authors. That's me in the bottom circle. Also, my story characters are sitting at the front table with the ET face peeking in the window at them.
What was your biggest surprise about the whole publishing process?
Editing! It's tough to look at a returned manuscript with edits and not think, 'Whoa! I write like a blind wolverine!' But I'm still learning. I have noticed the parts that don't resemble a crime scene are the places where I've stepped into the story and stayed there.
Now if other things in ones life didn't also have to happen like making dinner and cleaning the house, the poor editor wouldn't have so much work to do. And I can be very bad about writing the story I think someone else might like, or one that might suit the standard, and then it becomes very manufactured sounding, at least to me. And then the editor really has her work cut out!
And when you are working with an editor, here’s my best advice: Shut-up and listen. They are your best friend striving to help you polish a work in order for you to succeed. I'm not kidding, there should be an “I Love Editors Day,” celebrated by published authors everywhere.
Tell me about your publisher, MuseItUp
MuseItUp is a Canadian based, traditional, royalties paying publishing house. Because they deal in e-books first it's easier for them to take a risk on brand new writers and different ideas. And they do it with great aplomb! Whatever your preference in stories you can find it at MuseItUp. The goal is quality fiction and they certainly have it!
It's a fantastic company. The founder is Lea Schizas, a woman who cares very much about writers. Lea has been in the writing business for a number of years. She's edited for several publishing houses, her websites have been mentioned in Writer's Digest top 101 writing sites and won several awards in various categories in the Predators and Editors annual voting polls.
Lea is the most caring and supportive publisher I've ever seen. And the editors and artists working with her are the same way. It's a great organization and I'm pleased to be a part of it.
Let’s talk a little about the book. On your blog you write that Mike Malone has to deal with the fact that his father’s greatest dream for his life is to have Mike become own his anti-Christ. Tell me more.
Well, Mike Malone is a guy caught in extraordinary circumstances. He does very well in life, has a lot going for him and then total insanity breaks out when his father, a fallen angel, who stepped out of Mike's life years before, decides to come back. His father, Ahiel, has a goal of usurping power from Lucifer and taking over himself. To do this he needs an anti-Christ, and he's not above forcing Mike into the role.
Mike soon discovers, among other things, that Ahiel lies when his lips move and that he will stop at nothing to get what he wants. Mike can see that his father is dangerous and evil, and yet he still has memories of his childhood when his dad was this wonderful loving father, one that Mike would have died for. And by the end of the story, we find out that Ahiel, in his own perverse way, passionately loves his son. In another world the two would have been inseperable, but Ahiel's sin has made that impossible.
The story has a happy ending, but at the heart of it is this tragic situation.
What author(s) inspired you to write this type of book?
Robert Heinlein. I was always a sucker for his space opera's and big drama. And as ever…Madeleine L'Engle.
Will this be a stand alone book or do you plan for it to be part of a series?
I left the story so that it could become a series. Just might turn out that way.
What do you know now about publishing that you wished you had known sooner?
I'm not sure if there is one particular thing. I will say quality is everything. When you think your manuscript is ready, find a critique group or at least someone unfamiliar with your work and have them read it and tell you what they think. The more honest the better. If their suggestions sound as if they might improve your product in the slightest way, use it and be thankful.
I don’t have a critique group in my area. I'm in MuseIt's author's group now and it's been helpful already.
If you would like to pick up a copy of the book, click here.
If you would like to learn more about MuseItup,here's their link...