Name: Michael J. Sahno
Where are you from: Bristol, CT, USA
A little about your self, i.e., your education Family life etc:
I received a Master’s degree in English from Binghamton University at the age of 24, and went on to become a professional writer in 2001.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I’m re-launching my third novel, Miles of Files, with a brand new cover. I hope to make this humorous thriller an international bestseller.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I was always a gifted writer, one of those people who becomes Class Poet and Editor-in-Chief of the high school literary magazine. I’ve been compulsively writing since I was very young. My creativity came out mainly through poetry and song, painting and drawing, and eventually, fiction.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I think by the time I was 15, I knew I was a writer.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
When I got into my late teens, I started writing more fiction, and I discovered I really wanted to write a novel. Brothers’ Hand is my first novel, and I started writing it when I was about twenty-five. Once I finished the first novel, I launched into writing the second one before I ever thought about looking for an agent or publisher.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
Yes, I think my style is uniquely my own, though I don’t feel hemmed in by it. Liz Rosenberg, a terrific literary novelist, wrote, “Mike Sahno writes with blood and guts; with humor, heart, compassion, and a radiant energy all his own. I am so happy to see him making waves in the world of fiction.” I’ll take that.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I know, why Miles of Files, right? Well, I like to have a little “Easter egg” in each novel for the people who have read all my books. The first novel, Brothers’ Hand, takes place in a fictional town called Carverville, New York. In my second novel, Jana, the main character mentions that her mother is from Carverville. Then in my second novel, Jana, the main character uses the phrase “miles of files.” I think it was inspired by the Joni Mitchell album Miles of Aisles. I liked it so much, I decided to use it as the title of my third novel.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
If you asked me that over coffee, I’d probably just say “no,” but I’ve re-read them so much during editing, I have to be honest: the theme I see appear in my fiction over and over is redemption. I guess Americans just love a good redemption story.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I think Miles of Files is very realistic, yes. A young man find out that his boss is stealing from the company retirement plan, but not in a traditional embezzlement: he’s actually created these fake employee files, complete with nonexistent social security numbers, to make it look like he’s paying out benefits to former employees.
Part of that concept is based loosely on an experience I had: I once worked for a company that “froze” the company retirement plan for a year, so no one could take funds out or even put funds in…pretty unnerving experience!
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? A mentor?
Biggest influences on my fiction were probably John Gardner, Kurt Vonnegut, and Hunter S. Thompson. Then Balzac, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, lots of others.
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?
Balzac and La Comédie Humaine will always top the list for me. I’ve read maybe 30% of his work, so I’ve barely scratched the surface, and he gets me every time. He really knew all levels of society and human nature. New authors: still looking for that great new author to knock my socks off.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
I wish I had an answer for this, but no: when it came to writing my novels, I was on my own.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Definitely. I’ve been a full-time professional writer since 2001, well before my novels came out. So I’m used to getting paid to be a writer. It’s great.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Not a thing.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I think it started when I was a very small boy, a toddler. My mother and father read to us at bedtime, and there was a great little set of poems for the alphabet: A is for apple, apple pie-dy, nice inside-y, apple pie. Something that rhymed and was somewhat nonsensical. I learned to read by looking at the book, and could already read before they tried to teach me in school.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
I’m working on a short story collection that I’m giving away FREE to anyone who joins my email list (or is already on it). Here’s the intro to one of those stories:
My name is Rich and I’m a pathological liar.
That’s how they do it in all those twelve-step groups, right? “My name is so-and-so and I’m a such-and-such….’ Drug addict, compulsive gambler. Purveyor of kiddie porn.
“My name is Dan and I’m a hedonistic sonofabitch.”
“Thanks for sharing, Dan. Would anyone else like to share?”
Actually my name isn’t really Rich, but since I’ve already told you I’m a pathological liar, it doesn’t make any difference, does it? I could probably tell you anything I wanted and you’d still believe me. Not because it sounded reasonable, but because of the way I tell it. That’s what I’m good at, see? It’s my avocation, my sole talent. My raison d’être.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Well, I hate editing, so there’s that.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
No, but I will probably use some of my travels in future books. I’ve been to Thailand, the Philippines, France and Italy.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
This new cover for Miles of Files is by a guy called Mario Lampic
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
I was about 75-80% finished with the first draft – in fact, I’d polished it quite a bit already – but I got stuck finishing the last 20-25% for a good long while. That was hard.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
“Bash on regardless.”
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead?
For this last one, I’d say Michael Pena for the protagonist, Paul Panepinto, and Kevin Spacey for the antagonist, Graham Woodcock.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
I hate to repeat myself, but “Bash on regardless!”
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Submit yourself to literary excellence. Don’t go into these books expecting lightweight reading. I spent a good seven years of excruciatingly hard work on them, so they’d better be good, right? I hope you love them, but if you don’t, that’s okay, too.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I just finished one called Let The Willows Weep by Sherry Parnell. It’s very good.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Nope. Probably that one with the “apple pie-dy” stuff. It has a very generic title, The Bookshelf for Boys and Girls, but it’s loaded with all the classic Mother Goose stuff and a whole lot more.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
What makes me laugh: the family arguments on The Sopranos or Breaking Bad
What makes me cry: the willful destruction of our planet by greedy morons
Fiona: Is there one person past or present you would meet and why?
I’d like spend a few minutes with Frank Zappa thanking him for all the laughs and for the many excellent guitar solos he played.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
I’m not going to have one of those, because I’m going to be cremated on an old-fashioned funeral pyre in Thailand. I’m serious.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
The abovementioned Sopranos and Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, House of Cards, Orange is the New Black. We’re in a golden age of television.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Food: Thai curry, dark chocolate; Color: blue; Music: rock, jazz, blues, folk
Fiona: If you were not a writer, what else would you like to have done?
I would have parlayed that talent for song lyrics into a career as a rock star. Too bad I can’t play any instruments!
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Buy links for Miles of Files:
B & N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/miles-of-files-michael-j-sahno/1122803435
Amazon Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/Michael-J.-Sahno/e/B018PTN964