I’ve known Myke for a couple-few years now and he’s an incredibly hard-working writer who keeps upping his game. This is evidenced in part by his blog, where he’s been writing posts of increasing awesomeness about writing and life. Here is he to bring the hammer down on his newest, Breach Zone:
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF: WHO THE HELL ARE YOU?
I’m busier than a one legged man . . . uh . . . who works a lot. I have three jobs: I do specialized work for the NYPD, I command a Reserve Coast Guard boat squadron (we do search-and-rescue and maritime law enforcement in the waters all around New York City), and I write fantasy novels.
The irony is that I often feel like I’m not where I want to be in life. Then I take a minute a realize that I’m being paid to split my time between fighting crime and making art.
Who am I? I’m kind of a cross between Batman and Tolkien, and honestly? It’s fucking awesome.
GIVE US THE 140-CHARACTER STORY PITCH:
Trilogy’s end: Watch a magic-wielding US military defend New York City from an invading army of monsters. Oh, and there’s love and sex too.
WHERE DOES THIS STORY COME FROM?
Two places, really. The first: The SHADOW OPS trilogy has always been about a failed government policy steamrolling decent people. As I was writing and revising BREACH ZONE, the Manning case wrapped up and the Snowden case broke. There was a lot of food for thought in both of those regarding government control, the tradeoff between security and civil liberties and the amount of power people should have over their own government. Without my realizing it, BREACH ZONE became an exploration of that.
The second: New York City is a tough town. The old salt “if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere,” is spot on. I’ve been here about three years now, and this town has been kicking my ass for every minute of it.
With BREACH ZONE, I get to kick back.
HOW IS THIS A STORY ONLY YOU COULD’VE WRITTEN?
BREACH ZONE is a fantasy novel that features a US Coast Guard cutter, the combined might of the US military and the NYPD, and takes place across all five boroughs . . . well, except Queens, but Queens has been neglected by New York City stories since its inception . . . Oh, wait. I forgot about Eddie Murphy in Coming to America. *Sigh* Nevermind.
Anyway, I’m a Coast Guard officer who works for the NYPD and lives in New York City and writes fantasy novels. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that that’s a unique combination of traits that lend themselves fairly well to a book about . . . well, those things.
WHAT WAS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT WRITING BREACH ZONE?
When I first set out as a professional novelist, I was immediately classified as a “military writer.” That’s okay. For one thing, it’s true, and the truth is that I milked it for its marketing potential. I do have a particular background for a fantasy writer, and if that adds authenticity to my work, then so much the better.
But that label rankles. Yes, I’m a writer of military fiction. Yes, the military is a huge part of my life. But people are complicated. There’s a lot more to me than my job, and the truth is that just writing military fiction for the rest of my career sounds really boring. I don’t want to be a military writer. I don’t even want to be a fantasy writer. I want to be a writer. Full stop.
Stories are about people. In the end, that’s all we really care about. The Formics in Ender’s Game are people. The rabbits in Watership Down are people. This is why reality TV is so incredibly popular. We’re clanar. We’re social. We want to know about one another.
This is the heart of the romance genre. The plot is almost secondary. What matters is fascinating people, interacting with one another. Character is all.
When I learned that men don’t usually don’t write romance under their own names, I was furious. Men love, men have sex. Those outstanding people stories apply to us too. I swore then that I would learn to be an effective writer of romance.
BREACH ZONE is, at its heart, a love story. It is the first one I have ever written. I hope like hell that I pulled it off.
WHAT DID YOU LEARN WRITING BREACH ZONE?
I’ve heard writers say “I just put the characters on the stage, and they act on their own. I just sit back and take notes.” That NEVER happened to me, and I always thought that was a mark that there was something wrong with my creative process.
BREACH ZONE was the first time that happened. Scylla turned on her heel, faced me, and flatly refused to move the plot forward.
Like I said, people. People are complicated. They’re chaotic. They’re not easily ruled.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT BREACH ZONE?
Scylla. Beautiful, brilliant, solid steel. She is the love of my life laid out in text.
WHAT WOULD YOU DO DIFFERENTLY NEXT TIME?
Ease up on myself. The pressure ratchets up with each novel. Every book *must* be better than the last. But reminding yourself of that every thirty seconds doesn’t help. It just makes you crazy. No novel was ever improved by its author going nuts from the pressure.
GIVE US YOUR FAVORITE PARAGRAPH FROM THE STORY:
My favorite paragraph is a MAJOR spoiler, so I’ll give you a paragraph (uh, a few paragraphs actually) that I like a whole lot (this is Scylla talking to Jan Thorsson, who my readers know as Harlequin):
“And what were you promised, Jan? Are these humans you’re so ready to die for rewarding your loyalty? Are they treating you like the hero you are?”
Harlequin swallowed. Faces flashed through his mind, the vein throbbing in Hewitt’s forehead, Knut’s curled lip.
“They’re terrified of you, aren’t they?” Scylla asked. “They curse you even as they beg you to save them. Why, Jan? I don’t understand.” Because it’s not about me. It never was, he thought. But all he said was, “You can’t understand.”
“Jan,” she said, her voice low now, all anger gone from it, quivering ever so slightly. She sounded hurt. She sounded genuine. “Jan, please. Don’t do this.”
WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU AS A STORYTELLER?
My next novel, GEMINI CELL is already fully written (I’m sending the 4th draft off to my agent as soon as I finish typing this). It’s set in the SHADOW OPS universe, but many years before CONTROL POINT in the early days of the Great Reawakening. Readers will get to see the SOC in its infancy, and meet a US Navy SEAL who is one its first members.
Like BREACH ZONE, GEMINI CELL is a love story at its heart, and has the most detailed sex scenes I’ve written to date.
I am also finally taking my first stab at breaking out of the military milieu. I have 50,000 words of a dark fantasy with a young girl as a protagonist. It’s called THE FRACTURED GIRL and I am hoping that it impresses my agent enough for him to agree to represent it. I think it represents a new level in my writing, and I’m hopeful it’ll find a publisher who agrees.