An award-winning writer of speculative fiction, Michael G. Munz is fascinated by Greek mythology (and taking creative liberties with Greek mythology). Michael also possesses what some people might deem too much familiarity with a range of geek culture, though he prefers the term geek-bard: a jack of all geek-trades, but master of (mostly) none. He dwells in Seattle, where he continues his quest to write the most entertaining novel known to humankind and find time to play all the video games.
What’s your favourite part of the lifestyle of an Author?
It’s cliché, but I do love the times when I get to sit in the corner of a café, my back to the wall at my favourite table with a coffee next to me and my current work in progress. Though the companionship with other authors I’ve met is pretty fantastic as well. Also, the piles and piles of money that get dropped off at my house every single—Ha! Sorry, no, I can’t say that last one with a straight face. But the first two are true!
What made you start writing?
A meerkat with a gun broke into my bedroom one night and said, “Start writing!” Ha! No, no, of course not, that. That would be ludicrous, and no one would believe me if I said that anyway. Especially not Sergeant Harris of my local police precinct. What I meant to say was:
I’ve always felt the need to create, but I first decided to become an author when I was nineteen, during the summer after my freshman year of college. I was staying at my parents’ place, which was on the south end of a big island here in Washington State’s Puget Sound, and about an hour and a ferry ride away from anyone I knew. As a result, I was feeling pretty isolated and depressed. (I should mention that it wasn’t some sort of Harry Potter-esque forced-to-live-in-a-closet sort of thing. My parents are great, and even if they had forced me to live in a closet, I’m sure it would have been a very comfortable one. I was just having trouble dealing with being away from everyone that I’d gotten know that year.) Reading was one of my refuges against my late-teen/early-adult angst. I vividly remember lying on my bed eating popcorn while in the middle of reading Terry Brooks’s Elfstones of Shannara for the first time. When I took a moment to reflect on how much I was enjoying it, I had this watershed moment and realized how fulfilling it would be to give others the same enjoyment via my own writing the way Brooks’s writing was giving me.
I’m pretty sure it had nothing at all to do with the popcorn.
Is there an Author that you consider your inspiration?
In general I’ve always been inspired by Dan Simmons’s writing, especially his Hyperion series. I love how masterfully he weaves separate story threads together. For my humour inspirations, Douglas Adams and Dave Barry spring to mind immediately, as does webcomic writer Rich Burlew (check out The Order of the Stick!), and the writers of the early seasons of The Simpsons.
What’s your number one tip for an aspiring Author?
Take time to research the publishing industry, both the traditional paths and indie paths. Since the rise of ebooks, the publishing options open to authors are not only broad but constantly evolving. You need to know how things work out there in order to not only choose the best path for you, but to get every little bit of up-to-date information you can about how to succeed on that path.
Then make sure you still find time to actually write. I sometimes forget that part.
Which one of your characters would you most like to spend time with?
Thalia the Greek Muse of Comedy (and in the Zeus Is Dead series, also of Science Fiction). She’s funny, well-versed in geek culture/media, and she can juggle and talk to penguins. (Okay, so that last bit isn’t as much of a draw as her other qualities, but it’s nice that she has hobbies, right?) Granted, she would probably talk my ear off, but what author wouldn’t love to hang out with an honest to goodness Muse? Hopefully she wouldn’t take too much exception to the kinds of things I put her through…
Which book do you consider a must-read?
Just one book? Hmm. I suppose it depends on what you’re looking for. For sci-fi, Dan Simmons’s Hyperion. For aspiring authors of fantasy/sci-fi, Terry Brooks’s Sometimes the Magic Happens. And for kids, you should not leave childhood without a look at Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr. Fox.
What’s been the hardest edit that you’ve had to make? Why did you want to keep the material in?
I’m happy to say that there’s nothing I can recall in my previous books (at this point) that I had to remove. I definitely had to remove sections, but none that were so painful that I still mourn them enough to remember. Having recently finished Zeus Is Undead: This One Has Zombies, however, things are still fresh. There was a whole bit about how all Olympian gods are secretly allergic to two things, these things being unique to each god. (Iris, for example, was allergic to time-stops and the number 262.) I liked it, thought it was funny, and set up a great joke later at the end of its chapter. I had to remove it for pacing reasons, however. It slowed the narrative too much being where it was, and there was nowhere else to put it that wouldn’t seem wedged in. So it’s gone. Maybe I’ll bring it up in book 3.
Is there any conflict between what you want to write and what you think your readers will like?
Much of my motivation for writing involves creating something that people will enjoy, so there’s not too much conflict. Granted, that’s tempered by what I think I can write well. I try to make sure those two things overlap. I can’t recall ever saying, “I want to write X but no one will read it.” That said, I do have to be careful, when writing comedy, that the things I think are funny are also funny outside my head. I sometimes get myself in trouble by depending on references too obscure for most to get, and I have to keep that stuff out of the final drafts.
What effect can a review have on you, if you read them at all? Both the good and the bad.
I try to limit my review reading these days, especially Amazon and Goodreads reviews. But on occasion I can’t help but peek. A good review, of course, sends me soaring—both for the jolt of accomplishment it gives me and the thrill of having made someone happy with my writing. A bad review used to ruin my entire day, but my skin has thickened, so nowadays it’s not too bad, when I do read them. (I’m happy to say that the good reviews far outweigh the bad.) I find that 3 (out of 5) star reviews are the most helpful in terms of constructive criticism. Anything below that is either someone who will never like what I write, or a troll. I did enjoy one review that called me a “pompous dick coozy(sic)” so much that I showed it to all my author friends and even worked the phrase into Zeus Is Undead.
What’s exciting you about your next project?
Since I’ve spent all of my recent author time in editing/revising mode to get Zeus Is Undead to press, I’m most excited to get back to actually writing something for the first time again. First drafts, I’ve missed you! I’ll be jumping right back into the Zeus Is Dead world, too, so I’m eager to flesh out some of the seedling ideas that I have for book 3.
Thanks Michael, it’s not often that one of these interviews can get a genuine laugh out of me!
You can check out more about Michael on his links below:
His second book in the series, Zeus Is Dead: This One Has Zombies, is out on Wednesday! You can pre-order it here!