Michael Martineck: Five Things I Learned Writing The Milkman
In the near future, corporation rules every possible freedom. Without government, there can be no crime. And every act is measured against competing interests, hidden loyalties and the ever-upward pressure of the corporate ladder.
Any quest for transparency is as punishable as an act of murder. But one man has managed to slip the system, a future-day robin hood who tests diary milk outside of corporate control and posts the results to the world.
When the Milkman is framed for a young girl’s murder and anonymous funding comes through for a documentary filmmaker in search of true art beneath corporate propaganda, eyes begin to turn and soon the hunt is on.
Can the man who created the symbol of the Milkman, the only one who knows what really happened that bloody night, escape the corporate rat maze closing around him?
Or is it already too late?
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I will not tell you what I really learned
The world of The Milkman – the Free World – is post-government. Corporations foreclosed on debt-ridden nations and started running things themselves. In this world there are no nations and thus no laws. Not that the world is in chaos; companies just have different priorities. Once you let your mind play with this for a while, you might learn things about yourself that you didn’t want to know. Right now, in the real world, people do all kinds of creepy, crazy-ass stuff. Hemmed in only by the laws of economics and physics, I imagined people going deeper into the dark. I imagined. Me. A nice guy from the suburbs who wanted to write a book about economics. Some things crawled out of the shadows and into the book. Not everything. I won’t tell you about that stuff. Maybe next time.
This book isn’t about anything
As a corollary to above, as per unanticipated plot threads, novels sprawl, even tight ones. That is why they are not short stories. This is not bad. Unlike my beloved suburbs, sprawl in a new, wholly imagined world is great if you treat it like a garden: feed it and weed it, and don’t let it get out of hand. My book about a divergent economic model for the globe is almost equally about the lengths people will go for their children. It’s about love and fairness and tenacity and I’m pretty happy my book isn’t about anything – any one thing. It is about lots.
Don’t be yourself
I am a listener, a collector of sounds and blurted thoughts. I’m not shy – I engage people in conversation – but I’m much more likely to ask questions than answer. I like to read and ponder, none of which gets a novel out the door. These traits lay a decent foundation for writing; but, to write, that is a different story. Opening up, expressing, answering those questions I ducked. It’s not me, or to be more honest, it was not the me I was comfortable being. This novel showed me that, just as a book isn’t about one thing, neither am I.
Don’t write about what you know
Ray Bradbury gets to this in his wonderful Zen in the Art of Writing. Write about what you want to know. This book exemplifies that approach. No one knows what it’s like to live in post-government society. I wondered. I’m pretty sure there is an inquisition particle – a curiosity carrying proton, or curton, if you will – that attracts other curtons. The sense of newness and discovery you feel while you write whips up those feelings in others. Unless your curtons have garlic. Not everyone likes garlic.
This is the one that matters: don’t let grammar, spelling, word choice, blanking on a character’s name, POV or loud noises stanch your flow. When the words come, do everything you can to keep them coming and worry about the mess later. Writing is an 18-step process. Once I figured that out – poof! – I had a novel. A crappy novel, but I fixed that. Now it’s a pretty good one. I hope you’ll check it out.
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Michael Martineck: I have been writing in some form or another since I was seven years old. More recently, I have written short stories, comic book scripts, articles and trio of novels. DC Comics published some of my work in the 90s. Planetmag, Aphelion and a couple of other long-dead e-zines helped me out in the 00’s, which is also when I published children’s books The Misspellers and The Wrong Channel. Cinco de Mayo, a novel for adults, is now out from EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing which is also the publisher of The Milkman. I live in Grand Island, NY. with my wife and two children.
The Milkman: A Free World Novel: Amazon