Name: Gibson Michaels
Age: Old as the hills and twice as dusty… I’ve been around since General Motors was just a corporal.
Where are you from: Houston “by God” Texas
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc:
Once upon a time, I was born in Beech Grove, Indiana… an only child, as my parents took one look at me and moved into separate bedrooms.
I began my college education at Butler University, but graduated from the University of South Vietnam.
I have two grown sons who somehow survived my lack of single-parenting skills and turned out to be genuinely nice people anyway. I recently had to give up my home of 19 years to move in with my mother, who at 86 is no longer able to live alone anymore.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
Early in 2016, royalties from sales of Storm Clouds Gathering, the first book in my SENTIENCE Trilogy, earned me admittance as an active member of the prestigious Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America.
Currently I am researching acquiring a publicist, and a means for getting my trilogy out in audio book format. I’m also working on my 4th novel… which has been delayed somewhat by a couple of deaths in the family and my having to act as sole trustee of the estate.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
It all started about the time I got big enough to finally hold a pencil. (I remember it was the size of a horse’s leg and I had to rest it on my shoulder.) My early years were spent on a farm, so without siblings or neighbor children around to play with, I roamed the woods alone and let my imagination run wild… where every appropriately shaped stick became a spear or a gun. I also wrote lots of stories about those “in my head” adventures just to entertain myself on rainy days.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Writer? During my 27-year career as a technical instructor, I wrote dozens of 300-400 page training manuals that I used in my classes. Author? Probably when I first held a paperback book in my hand with my name on the cover.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
When the economy crash of late 2008 collided head-on with quintuple-bypass surgery, I was medically retired, (see: tossed aside like a used Dixie cup). I’d already read virtually every sci-fi book on the shelves at Barnes & Nobel, so I dived into writing science fiction out of utter boredom. In essence, I began writing the books I wanted to read, but couldn’t find.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
As Willliam Faulkner once said, “It begins with a character, usually, and once he stands up on his feet and begins to move, all I can do is trot along behind him with a paper and a pencil trying to keep up long enough to put down what he says and does.”
I’m a “pantser,” as I write by the seat of my pants. I sometimes get into a zone where the story begins taking on a life of its own, essentually writing itself and all I’m doing is transcribing. I sometimes become so engrossed that I can’t stop, because I want to know what happens next… and I won’t know until after I’ve written it. I sometimes put in 18-20 hours a day in front of the computer.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
So far, all my titles are descriptive of events in my books.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Not really. I don’t write for literary merit. I just want to spin a good yarn with enough unexpected situational humor to entertain my readers and leave them thinking, “Damn, I really enjoyed that!”
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Guilty as charged… several characters in my trilogy are based on people I’ve known, or worked with.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?
Other than the Bible, the usual culprits… Robert A. Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clark, etc. I really enjoyed the Sten series by Alan Cole and Chris Bunch.
Dawn Greenfield Ireland… an award winning author and acclaimed master of the humorous “cozy mystery” genre. Her first two books, Hot Chocolate and Bitter Chocolate were both bestsellers and have her fans salivating for her pending third installment, Spicy Chocolate, which is still under construction. Dawn is a sweetheart of a gal who took me under her wing and took the time to do a 100% critique of my entire trilogy. Her continuous encouragement (see: butt-kicking) sustained me during those bleak moments when it appeared I’d never get all of the kinks hammered out of my manuscripts. It wasn’t until after they had all finally received the Dawn Ireland Seal of Approval that I dared to drop kick those puppies out onto an unsuspecting public.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Richard Paolinelli… I recently finished reading his mystery-thriller Reservations, which is an excellent ‘who-done-it” with multiple twisting turns in the plot line. Every time I thought I had finally gotten a clue as to what was going on, nope… wrong again! His Jack Del Rio character reminded me a great deal of Dillon Savich, from Catherine Coulter’s acclaimed FBI series.
My all-time favorite author? Bill Baldwin, no contest. I was unaware that Bill had recently passed away until his picture flashed onto the screen during the “In Memoriam” portion of the Nebula Awards banquet. The news hit me like a brick upside the head. I’ve read his acclaimed Helmsman series many times, as to me, it epitomizes what a “fun-read” should be. I have always hoped that my writing will invoke the same feelings within my readers that his books always did in me.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
I was fortunate enough to stumble across the Dawn Greenfield Ireland Critique Group here in Houston through Meetup.com. Dawn’s critique group ran continuously for over twenty years and spawned multiple published authors. Two of its regular members are professional editors, Cicely Wynne and Anna Marie Flusche, who normally returned my submissions looking like a chicken with bloody feet had marched across every page. But their dismemberment of my manuscripts helped my writing immensely, because they not only showed me what was wrong, they took the time to explain “why” it was wrong and offer suggestions on the best way to fix it.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Oh, God… I certainly hope so! — Second career actually. My days of a 9-5 job in the real world are long behind me, so rather than just sitting around staring out the front window, waiting to die like my grandfather did, becoming an author gives me a reason to get out of bed every morning.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Eh… maybe, but probably not. A few reviewers gave me some flack over the obvious parallels to the American Civil War, (with a marked reversal of the moral high ground) but well over 70% of my readers loved it. Sales took a hit when that kid shot up a black church and the media went on the warpath, vilifying everything “Confederate” or seeming to glorify the Old South in any way. The politically correct crowd is currently having a field day eradicating memorials and desecrating cemeteries over a 150-year-old conflict that did not measure up with modern standards of morality. I’ve sometimes wondered if my books would sell better if I rewrote them, distancing them from those sad events, but I haven’t as yet. I wrote the story I wanted to write, before it became so politically incorrect to remind people of an ugly chapter in our history.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
It’s rather lonely growing up as an only child on a remote farm. Sometimes a blank sheet of paper was the only one with the time to listen to what I had to say.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
From my current work in progress, a stand-alone Science Fiction/Celtic Fantasy hybrid named: Éerie.
If you want your children to be brilliant, read them fairy tales.
If you want them to be geniuses, read them more fairy tales. — Albert Einstein
The Island of Éire
Aryn Finnegan, of the clan Ó Fionnagáin, focused down the length of his bronze-tipped hunting arrow and let it fly. He watched with satisfaction as his arrow buried itself in the throat of a black armored invader.
Welcome to Éire… Roman.
The Romans reacted instantly to the kill, scurrying around like disturbed ants. Orders were shouted and ranks began forming up. Two more quickly placed arrows dispatched two more Romans before he climbed down from the tree he was perched in, to move to a different location. When the arrow barrage paused, some nervous soldiers resumed their attempts to complete a series of three trenches across the entrance of the Drumanagh peninsula.
As he’d expected, the Romans sent a full century of armed legionaries into the forest to search him out and kill him. But there was actually little danger in that, for Aryn Finnegan was the unknowing master of an art that wouldn’t be fully appreciated for another two millennia. His self-made clothing was constructed from the hides of all kinds of small game — an irregularly shaped patchwork of various colors and textures that produced a mottled look that broke up his outline, making him appear to blend into the background. Instead of retreating deeper into the forest as the Romans might have expected, Aryn moved in closer, shifting around a bit to the south.
He climbed to near the top of the tallest tree at the edge of the forest, closest to the Roman camp. A robust ocean breeze caused the treetops to sway, so finding secure seating was precarious. With the top of the tree whipping back and forth, Aryn found it difficult to wedge himself into a fork where he wouldn’t require a handhold. Never a damned sylph around when you need one. Just as he finally managed to anchor himself to where he could use both hands to draw his bow…
POP! — “What are you doing up here, Aryn?”
The unexpected appearance by the tiny pixie, who had recently taken to plaguing his life, startled him so badly that he overbalanced, almost pitching completely out of the tree. Barely catching himself with the fist of his bow hand, Aryn regained his balance and hissed, “Damn it, Rhoslyn! You scared the shite out of me.”
The pixie sniffed. “No, I didn’t… I smell no excrement.”
Aryn sighed and shook his head. Faeries could be infuriatingly literal, not understanding human idioms at all. “Your popping in unexpectedly startled me so badly, I almost killed myself, falling out of this tree.”
“Pfft… I wouldn’t have let you fall, silly. I would have caught you.”
Rhoslyn was a flower faerie of the rose family whose name meant, “Lovely Rose.” Dressed in the deep green of rose leaves, she had brilliant red hair — not the orangey color called “red” in humans, but the brilliant red of the flower she was named after. Only the size of Aryn’s index finger, it was difficult to see her pointed elfin ears and transparent, luminescent wings, even after she alighted on the palm of his hand.
It was easy to forget that Rhoslyn’s appearance was entirely of her own choosing — a magical glamour of sorts, that she wore about her like people wear clothing. Aryn knew that her ability to fly came from her inherent magical abilities… not from those tiny pixie wings. She could have made herself appear the same size he was, if she’d so wished… or even as big as a house. Whether she was actually capable of catching a full-grown man falling out of the top of a tree wasn’t something he wanted to test for himself.
“What are you doing here?”
“I got bored and began wondering what my friend Aryn might be up to these days. That’s what I was just asking you about. Why are you so high up in this oak tree? Oak trees don’t produce anything mortals consider edible. You’d be much better served climbing a walnut, beech or cherry tree.”
Aryn rolled his eyes and replied, “I’m not searching for nuts or berries. I’m killing Roman invaders, if you must know.”
“Romans? Isn’t that what Finvarra called the invaders that he prophesied were coming?”
“Yes, they’re here now — so I’m killing them.”
“Humpf, good luck with that. The way this tree is swaying in this wind, even you might find it difficult to hit anything from up here.”
Rhoslyn somehow maintained her position, standing on Aryn’s upturned palm, despite the motion of the tree and the resultant jostling of his hand. Aryn figured it must be something else he didn’t understand about how faerie magic worked.
“Yes. Too bad you’re not a sylph, so you could calm this wind down for me. That would be helpful.”
“You wish that I was a sylph?” Rhoslyn sniffed — miffed. “I nurture the most beautiful flowers in all creation, and yet you wish I was an air faerie? Be careful Aryn, that’s coming awfully close to an unforgivable insult to a pixie.”
“I didn’t say I wish that you were a sylph, but flowers aren’t what I need right now. What I need is for this damned wind to settle down. You can’t do that, can you?”
Rhoslyn’s indignation morphed into a pout. “Well… no,” she finally admitted sadly. “My powers cannot affect the wind, but maybe I could find you a sylph who could help you with that.”
“I would appreciate it, and while you’re at it, you might alert Queen Úna that the Romans have landed here, so she can pass the word on to Kyla. Can you remember this exact location… the Drumanagh peninsula?”
Rhoslyn snorted. “Are you trying to insult me again? Of course, I can remember.”
The pixie disappeared with a soft pop. Damn, she disappeared so suddenly, I never had a chance to ask her to fetch me more arrows from my cave.
The swaying motion of the tree prevented him from focusing on a specific target, so Aryn just watched as Roman legionaries spread out and entered the forest looking for him. Only a couple at the far right end of their line came anywhere close, and he watched them pass to either side of his lofty, swaying perch. Both carried their rectangular, rounded-edge shields close to their bodies, glancing up, as well as around, in search of their prey, but he was much too far up to be easily spotted from the ground.
Aryn watched in frustration as the sun sank lower and lower in the sky, but still that damnable wind kept up, unabated. Just as he had about decided to abandon his perch and search out another that didn’t try to throw him like an unbroken horse… POP!
There beside him appeared a white-haired sylph he’d never seen before. She was about twice as large as Rhoslyn, dressed in a white diaphanous gown, having silvery, nearly transparent, butterfly wings with steaks of light-blue in them, and a pattern of medium blue spots. Looking closely, Aryn could just make out that her hair wasn’t totally white, but also had faint streaks of light blue in it. Sylphs were air-faeries who generally inhabited the high reaches of mountainous areas and were generally what humans envisioned when thinking about the fae.
“You must be Aryn Ó Fionnagáin,” said the sylph, as she looked him up and down, critically. “My name is Eupnea. Rhoslyn the pixie told me that I’d find you up a tree here.”
“Nice to meet you, Eupnea. Can you calm this damned wind, please?”
Eupnea’s facial expression changed in a flash, from mild annoyance to a thundercloud. “Damned wind? You dare to curse the wind to the face of an air faerie?”
“No! — Wait, don’t go… please.”
The sylph looked at him with the same disgust she might have shown a slug. “Rhoslyn told me that you sometimes suffered from a lack of decorum. She didn’t mention that you have the manners of swine.”
“My manners were quite good enough for Queen Úna,” Aryn replied defensively.
“You’ve met, Queen Úna?”
Aryn nodded. “And her husband, Finvarra.”
Eupnea looked startled at that revelation. “I’m surprised you survived an encounter with one of the old gods. They are not known for showing tolerance to discourteous mortals.”
“I almost didn’t… survive it, that is.”
Eupnea snorted. “I don’t doubt it. Perhaps you should learn some tact when dealing with faeries, before someone actually turns you into something more vile than your own behavior.”
“Look, I’m sorry. I’ve just been swinging around in the top of this tree for so long it’s made me a bit grumpy.”
“Rhoslyn requested that I come here to help you. I normally don’t have anything to do with mortals. As an air faerie, I am a subject of King Paralda and Queen Vayu.”
“Yet, are not both of them subservient to the demi-goddess, Kyla, daughter of Finvarra and Úna?”
“That is above my station. I do not concern myself with the doings of royalty or gods.”
“But Rhoslyn did send you here to help me, right?”
Eupnea rolled her eyes, but finally said, “Rhoslyn will owe me a boon for this. What is it you require, human?”
“Can you calm this wind… please?”
With a mere wave of Eupnea’s hand, the brisk wind died abruptly. “What else?”
Aryn sighed with relief as his unruly seat settled beneath him. “Nothing else… that’s all I needed. Thank you.”
“That’s all? You sent Rhoslyn to fetch me all this way, just to calm the wind here? Why?”
“I need to kill Romans.”
“What are Romans?”
Aryn pointed toward the Roman camp, where beached galleys continued unloading troops and horses. Tents were being erected and supplies stacked near field kitchens and mobile smithies. Legionaries were back to digging their defensive trenches across the entire mouth of the Drumanagh peninsula. Officers were shouting unintelligible orders, which the men obeyed promptly with unerring dispatch — quite unlike the chronic arguments and bickering so common within the Celtae tribes of Aryn’s people.
“Those invaders coming in from the sea are Romans.”
Eupnea gawked at the unusual spectacle before her. “So many…”
“Yes, now excuse me while I get back to killing some of them.”
The sylph snorted audibly. “What can one man do against an entire army?”
“I can annoy them and slow their progress. Watch.”
Aryn loosed a quick volley of four arrows in rapid succession, the last in flight before the first struck home. Four soldiers digging in the trench closest to Aryn’s treetop perch toppled in quick progression. Their comrades dropped onto their bellies, shouting warnings and scanning the edge of the forest in search of the threat. Legionaries digging the second entrenchment also dropped to the ground, but when no further arrows were forthcoming, the centurion in charge goaded his men into resuming their task. Little further digging was accomplished after Aryn’s next arrow killed a man working in the third trench.
Eupnea noticed that Aryn’s quiver was now half-empty. “You have more arrows hidden nearby?”
“No, I’ll have to return to my cave to get more after these run out. I figure I can keep them pinned down until dark and then go get more.”
“You can navigate this forest in the dark?”
“Easily, I live here. This forest is my home.”
The sylph crossed her arms and tapped one tooth in concentration, as if in deep thought. “Would a storm help to delay them, until you can return?”
“Most assuredly, but why would you volunteer to help me in this? Queen Úna will surely send Kyla to rally the fae against these invaders, but you said yourself, sylphs answer to different rulers.”
“If these invaders of yours truly represent a threat to our island, King Paralda and Queen Vayu will not wish to be seen as slacking in aiding the land’s defense.”
“I thought you said that you didn’t concern yourself with the doings of royalty,” Aryn said with a grin.
“Don’t be flinging my own words back into my face, mortal,” Eupnea snapped. “It certainly wouldn’t hurt my standing if I acted proactively on this. Besides, frustrating those other mortals sounds like fun.”
“Ah, now that I can believe!” Aryn laughed softly.
Ignoring his amused smirk, she continued. “I’ll go fetch Aral and return here.”
“Who is Aral?”
“Aral is an air elemental. He is much less intelligent, but far more powerful than a sylph. Whatever small storm I can create, he can enlarge into a gale of truly monstrous proportions.”
“Go then with my thanks, little sylph. I will be in your debt for any additional delay that you and Aral can impose upon these invaders, giving the clans more time to gather their war bands together.”
Eupnea gave Aryn another probing look. “Aye, and it’s good that you realize that. Perhaps there is hope for you after all, mortal. Farewell.” And with that, she was gone in an eye blink.
* * * *
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Ah, here we go… confession time. After returning from Vietnam, I was diagnosed as suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but most vets just call it “the black f*ck-its.” When a wave of it comes on, it strangles my creativity because my give-a-damn is busted. It’s not like writer’s block, because there are tricks for overcoming that. It’s more like a storm out on the ocean — nothing you can do but throw out the sea anchor and just survive, wallowing in the troughs, until it finally passes and the sun comes out again.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I recently attended the 2016 Nebula Awards banquet in Chicago, where I met several of the big dogs in the science fiction author community like Joe Haldeman, Cat Rambo, Michael Capobianco, Eric Flint and Nebula Grand Master C. J. Cherryh.
In August, I’ll be attending the Hugo Awards banquet at WorldCon in Kansas City.
I was stunned to learn that some of my fans have nominated my SENTIENCE Trilogy (Military Space Opera) for an inaugural 2016 Dragon Award in the Best Military Science Fiction category. If by some miracle I actually won, I figured it would be rather tacky if I weren’t there to accept it, so I’m scheduled to attend the Dragon Awards banquet at DragonCon in Atlanta next September.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I did… in conjunction with professional layout specialist for the first book. When the finished product arrived, my eldest son told me, “Dad, I can do all that for you.” So my son Jeramy laid out the covers for the second and third books in my trilogy.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Writing the manuscript is actually the easiest part. But then comes all of the self-editing, critique groups, fixing plot holes and other changes generated by a small army of beta-readers, proofreaders, developmental editors, etc…. all that necessary stuff before you can even begin to think about publishing.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Primarily I learned to “show, don’t tell,” stop using passive voice, and to break up my lengthy run-on sentences.
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
I have no earthly idea… I haven’t watched a movie in the last dozen years. All of the actors I’m familiar with are either dead, or way too old for the part.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Grow a very thick skin. You’re not nearly as good a writer as you think you are, but keep at it… because that’s the only way you will improve. The criticism that hurts the worst is probably what you most need to hear. But, bottom-line, it is YOUR story… tell it your way, but remember, never short-change your audience by taking shortcuts that will cripple the quality of your product by making it appear amateurish. You only get ONE opportunity to make a good first impression, so never offer your audience less than your very best. If you really want to be a professional author, then you have to act like one.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Yes… When a book-buyer spends their hard earned money to purchase your book, out of the millions of titles available, that is a tremendous compliment to any author.
To my readers, I’d like to say, “Thank you, for purchasing my books and for all of the tremendous support you’ve given me. I sincerely hope you enjoy the read enough to watch for the next tank of mental sewage to be flushed out of my warped, nonsense of humor.”
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
The Little Engine That Could… My mother taught me to read phonically at home. No kindergartens back then, so I went directly from the cornfield into first grade, writing in cursive and reading at a 4th grade level… That poor teacher played hell trying to get me to print and go back to reading Fun with Dick and Jane like all the other kids.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Laugh: American politics. Cry: American politics… Seriously though, as a naturally born smart aleck, virtually everything I write contains a lot of dry humor… with an occasional “blow coffee out your nose” experience.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
Hitler. I don’t want to talk to him… I’d just like the opportunity to blow his kneecaps off and then pistol-whip the hell out of him.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why?
Though his sins were scarlet, his books were read. (What better epitaph could there be for an author?)
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
We have two rescue Yorkies, a nine-year-old male and a 3/4-blind, fourteen-year-old female. Both can become rather demanding at times and they often tag-team me.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I generally don’t watch television much. When I do, it’s usually historical documentaries or American football.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Lobster and strawberries… black and orange (Halloween colors) …old country music.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I always wanted to be a fighter pilot, but didn’t have the sinuses for it.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so, what is it?
Amazon Authors pages USA http://www.amazon.com/Gibson-Michaels/e/B00N5G8VE8/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1