Tag Archives: Three Questions

Interview With Mike Stewart (Three Questions)

I read both of Mike Stewart’s Assured Destruction e-books towards the end of last year and thoroughly enjoyed them. You can read the reviews of Assured Destruction and Script Kiddie for my detailed thoughts on them, but suffice to say words like “excellent” and “well written” apply. When he told me he was doing a Kickstarter for the third book, I was excited. So, like I do, I wanted to find out more. I’ve asked him three questions and I hope you enjoy the answers.

1) Being a geek, I’m a big fan of cyberpunk and stories involving tech. I’m not too sensitive to mistakes, depending on the story, but in a story like these getting the details right is very important. So far as I can tell you have done a very good job in the first two. Do you geek for a living and are thus able to avoid those pitfalls, is there a lot of research involved, or is it a bit of both?

If I could do life over, I’d be a coder. Why? Because it’s the closest you can get to being a real wizard. In what other field can the lines you write come alive on the screen, or in a robot’s actions? In what other field can you attack another system with programs/spells or protect yourself by putting up a firewall? Technology is moving into the realm of fantasy. That’s why I’m into it. So, do I geek for a living? No. I do however geekout. 🙂

I also have a deep interest in new media literacy and that includes new media risk (content, conduct, and contact). Kids need to understand the distributability and permanence of content. And they need to learn about how awesome technology is (let’s especially get more girls coding!). I’ve read hundreds of whitepapers on these issues and even presented to senate committee on the issues and opportunity of new media. With Jan I wanted to present a balanced view of those risks and opportunities.

2) One of the things I enjoyed about the first two novels is how “real” Jan’s life is. In addition to her mom’s health issues and the troubles of growing up in this wonderful modern age, she’s got her own unique problems. You don’t whitewash the world for the sake of a YA label. What limitations (if any) do you put on your works in this genre to keep it age appropriate and why did you opt to go as gritty as you did?

Sex and swearing. That’s about all I’ll keep out. Kids are reading far up in terms of age group. Oh, I also won’t write about kids committing suicide. There are studies that suggest suicide rates increase if kids read about their peers committing suicide.

All my writing is a little dark; I’m not sure I could keep that out of it, but Jan’s sense of humor helps me lighten the tone a bit (I hope—book three is intense).

3) You’re doing a Kickstarter for the release of the third book in the series. Have you crowd-funded before and what challenges are you facing with this campaign?

This is my first campaign, but I’ve released an app before and there are similarities in terms of trying to generate interest. That’s the big challenge; how do you get eyeballs to the campaign and once there, how do you convince them to make a pledge?

Some articles I’ve read have suggested that the keys are scarcity (i.e. be the first to get, or get one of a hundred XYZ), social proof (show people that others think your project has merit), and authority (why you? why am I the one to create this project).

But then it’s the same challenge with releasing a book too, isn’t it? You have to write the best hook you can, develop a brand around yourself, and spread the word.

In this case, I didn’t feel I had a choice. There’s a Kickstarter campaign IN the book, how could I not have one in real life?

Really appreciate the chance to post on your blog, Scott, and for your staunch support. 🙂

It’s a pleasure finding and supporting new writers. So, go to his kickstarter page and pledge whatever you can!

Interview With Matt Wallace (Three Questions)

I’ve had the pleasure of reading the first book in Matt Wallace’s Slinger series and I’ll be reviewing that later this week. Until then, I wanted to share three questions that I asked him. (This may become a new thing “Three Questions With Xxxx”. If you enjoy these let me know.)

The book is available here. He’s using his expertise as a combat trainer, pro-wrestler, and sharp writer to weave an action packed narrative.

Meet Nico. He’s currently falling 30,000 feet above the city of Hanoi to his death while the entire world watches.

And they can’t wait to see him hit the ground.

Welcome to Sling City, an arena in space where Judokas, sumo wrestlers, football stars, and stick fighters compete in the global combat sport of the future. Sling City is more than a stadium, it’s an entire microcosmic world filled with its own cultures, traditions, wars, and secrets. Some of those secrets are about to get out, and while all eyes watch the action-packed struggle of The Games take place, the men and women who compete in those games will have to unravel a disturbing mystery that’s cropped up at the heart of the home where they live, work, play… and die.

SLINGERS is the beginning of an exciting new five-part ebook series from the author of THE FAILED CITIES and SUNDAE.

1) There are book series, tv shows, and a ton of other serialized fiction out there. Some of them are obviously tightly plotted beginning to end. Others are clearly “pantsed”. Of the books that you have scheduled to release for this series, are they all already written/edited?

Oh, hell no. I had most of the first and second parts written when I decided to do the series, but beyond that I knew I’d write and evolve the story as this thing went along. It’s the same way I did THE FAILED CITIES years back, and I hadn’t attempted anything like it since then.

2) I love serialized fiction. If its well done then no matter whether it’s a week, a month, or even a year or more in the case of some movies, I don’t mind waiting. What made you decide to release these books as multiple parts and how do you are you planning to “keep” your audience in between releases? (Also if you have a release schedule beyond the next one coming out on April 2nd)

I started reading about “product funneling” last year. It’s a model that’s been very successful in the video game industry, but no one is really doing it with books yet (I stress “yet”). I’m trying to build each book so it leads the reader/consumer directly to the next one. Scott Pond and I design ads and previews for the next installment that go into each book. Between releases I use my social media and any podcast, website, or blog I can get on to pump the audience. The main hope is that the audience builds as the series builds.

After April I’ll be dropping a new book each month ’til June, when the series concludes.

3) Clearly you’ve drawn on your experience as a wrestler and martial arts trainer for this book. There’s a large part of this that’s science fiction. What sort of research did you do for the science fiction end of this piece?

I’m playing it fast and loose with wormhole theory in this one, but I’m comfortable with that. A lot of the science is just an extrapolation of technology we’re using today in drones and combat sports. The stuff I’m not as well-read on I intentionally choose to be vague about, which I prefer anyway. I’m trying to convey the experience of the characters, not the technology they use.

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Interview With JC Hutchins

I had the pleasure of reviewing The 33 by JC Hutchins recently. I quite enjoyed it, but had a couple of questions for Hutch. He was king enough to answer them.

What made you decide to release The 33 as a serialized audio/e-book, rather than doing it all at once?

I wish I had a satisfying, entrepreneurially-sound answer for you! Honestly, The 33’s release model is the way it is because that’s how I’ve always envisioned it. Since 2008, I’ve wanted to create something that plucked some of the most interesting storytelling models from episodic TV and serialized comic books, and mash them together: a combination of standalone “monster of the week” stories and cliffhanger-driven multi-episode adventures. The 33’s 12-episode “TV season” approach provided a good umbrella to unify these stories, and gave me the flexibility to weave in a mythology and meta-arc — a bigger picture narrative — that can conceivably span several seasons of The 33, and numerous spinoffs.

Also, I can’t release the episodes all at once because they haven’t all been written yet! This was deliberate, for a few reasons … but these reasons ultimately hail back to TV and comics.

Firstly, as adventures of The 33 are released month to month, I’ll be able to watch the online conversation about them ebb and flow. I’ll get a sense of my audience’s expectations, what it likes (and doesn’t), fan-favorite characters, that sort of thing. That information will help inform the world of The 33 and its characters. I couldn’t make those diagnoses and directional changes if a full season of The 33 had already been written.

Secondly, the model embraces a bit of unpredictability and “controlled chaos” for my creative process. If I’m fascinated by an emerging social trend or technology that I’ve read about, I can immediately get to work on a standalone The 33 story, using it as inspiration. That flexibility is very cool, and impossible with traditional prose fiction models. While I have no ambition to craft a “ripped from the headlines” series ala Law & Order, there’s something to be said for timeliness and cultural relevance, especially when the release schedule is designed to permit it.

Thirdly, the month-to-month writing and release of The 33 gives me a chance to watch sales figures, and adjust my own expectations. If it becomes obvious to everyone, especially me, that the series is an entrepreneurial failure and no one’s buying the episodes, then — speaking plainly — there’s little reason to invest the effort in writing and promoting it. TV, comic books and novel series face this scenario all the time, especially in their formative days. If the series doesn’t get traction in the marketplace and the revenue generated doesn’t justify the expense incurred to create it, more episodes won’t be “ordered” by “the network.”

Now, to be clear: I’m nowhere near making that decision right now, and won’t be for many months. If the sales of The 33’s first episode are any indication, the series is in great shape, and will thrive for months to come. I’m committed to pursuing my passion for this series, and will write as many The 33 stories as the audience is willing to meaningfully support.

What are the unique challenges that you face in writing something like this as opposed to a novel?

The most intriguing challenge so far has been being thoughtful about how and when to reveal certain secrets of The 33’s mythology, world and characters. In some respects, I’m playing a longer game now than I ever was, writing a standalone novel. I need characters who don’t just have problems — they’ve got BIG problems. Heck, their problems have problems! This approach ensures a long-term (and heaven willing, multi-season) road of growth for my characters.

Same goes for the weird “day to day” world seen in the series. The 33 is set in a present-day America where science and sorcery coexist — where the world is threatened by ruthless criminals, malicious technologies, hostile supernatural beings, giant killer robots, you name it. I’ve developed a few “rules” for The 33’s world; these are creative cornerstones that permit even the most outlandish technologies and mythologies to exist, all together. But those explanations need not be dumped into The 33’s first episode. An episodic approach empowers me to shift that worldbuilding to future adventures, if needed. It allows me to tease some of the mythologies and tech — and heroes and villains — of The 33 and pay off those teases later. This requires some creative restraint, which is definitely a challenge for me!

Finally, there’s a much larger meta-mythology powering universe of The 33, and a superthreat looming over it that defies imagination — or at least, the imaginations of the characters occupying that universe. If the series is successful enough to support multiple seasons (and even multiple prequels, or spinoff series), that narrative “marrow” will slowly be revealed. I’m being very judicious in my approach with that. I want to weave hints of this meta-mythology into the DNA of The 33, and glance upon them occasionally in ongoing episodes … but make them “hide in plain sight,” if that makes sense.

If this is a success do you think you’ll make it available as a paper book?

That’s a great question, and my answer hinges greatly on the definition of “success” — a definition I haven’t yet settled on, and one that will likely shift in the weeks and months ahead. A paper-based product is probably a ways off, though if the sales of The 33 radically exceed my expectations — and if there’s vocal demand for a paper-based product — I’ll certainly consider it!

The “need to know” about The 33’s unconventional storytelling model: The 33 is J.C. Hutchins’ latest fiction project, released as monthly ebooks and digital audiobooks. The 33 isn’t a novel — it’s a short story series with recurring characters, told over TV season-like arcs. The 33: Season 1 is currently planned for a 12-episode release.

More information about The 33 is available at http://The33.net.

Bio: J.C. Hutchins crafts award-winning transmedia narratives, screenplays and novels for companies such as 20th Century Fox, A&E, Cinemax, Discovery, FOX, Infiniti, Macmillan Publishers and Harebrained Schemes. He has been profiled by The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR’s Weekend Edition, ABC Radio and the BBC.

Barnes & Noble