I met Michael several years ago when we were both signing books in a local bookstore. Besides being an author he also owns his own publishing company. Read his interview below!
1. According to your bio,you’re a specialist in history and geopolitics withdegrees in both business and international relations In addition, you’ve lived in both Spain and England. How did your education fuel your creative writing?
Great question. The business and IR degrees seeped their way into my first novel, which is set in contemporary times, far more than in any of the fantasy novels I’ve done recently. Some readers will tell you that Plagued is far too filled with history and international politics. This was by design, as I wanted there to be a story-within-a-story about how the world works today, but the reviews for that novel serve as a great reminder that readers have diverse expectations and not everyone wants their narratives mixed with information. Conversely, living in Spain had a greater impact on the worldbuilding of the fantasy novels I moved into. The setting in that series is flavored by the European cultures such as Spanish, French, German, and Roma that I was exposed to while living there. Some of the locations in the story, particularly castles, are heavily inspired by real-life sites like Schloss Neuschwanstein in Bavaria and La Alhambra in Granada.
2. Your first novel, Plagued, With Guilt, deals with a pandemic inadvertently released to the world. You’re obviously very knowledgeable about the science of diseases. In light of COVID, do you see any parallels in your novel and what the world has been coping with this year?
2020 has been terrifying, to say the least. Before this year, I would have said the most relevant aspect of Plagued is that it predicted the rise of ISIS. The Covid pandemic, however, has been eerily familiar. Not so much that the diseases are similar, which they’re not, but much of the focus of Plagued was how society reacts to a crisis in unpredictable, often irrational ways. It’s been intriguing, though not in a good way, to see that up close. And of course all the research into diseases I did in order to write Plagued gave me an early healthy respect for how serious the novel coronavirus truly is.
3. You also own your publishing company, Casus Belli Books. Do you publish books on specific topics?
Casus Belli Books was started by a couple friends and I, and originally we intended to publish a mix of fiction and non-fiction books related to war and history. Plagued might not seem to fit at first glance, but there is a strong theme of terrorism and civil war mixed in with the pandemic. The fantasy series I’m working on now is largely military fantasy.
As often happens, however, life intervenes and my partners have not finished their books…and I have plans to write a mystery or three next, so the original scope of CBB is likely to evolve.
4. What are you currently working on?
I’m working on the second trilogy of the Empire Asunder fantasy series (there are 9 books planned in all), plus a few short stories in the same universe. And working with a talented narrator to get them turned into audiobooks (currently, only the first is complete).
Thank you so much for taking the time to come up with these questions and giving me a chance to think them through. I think we often get so caught up in the now that it’s good to stop and reflect on the path that got us here.