Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Michael Seidel, sixty years and a couple hundred days old.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I was born in Virginia in the US. I was a military brat, though, so I’ve lived all over the U.S., and then I was in the military and lived and traveled the world. I now live in southern Oregon.
Fiona: A little about yourself (i.e., your education, family life, etc.).
Retired from the U.S. Air Force after twenty years in 1995. I’ve been married for forty-two years and now live in Ashland, Oregon, held hostage by four male cats. IF YOU CAN READ THIS, PLEASE SEND CAT KIBBLE. I did stints in Silicon Valley in the SF Bar Area with medical device and computer security startups, and then fifteen years with IBM, ending my relationship with them in 2015.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
I completed a draft of another science fiction novel, “Incomplete States,” last week. I’m editing and revising it now. After it’s published, I’ll return to writing “Personal Lessons with Savanna,” the third novel in that mystery series. I’m looking forward to writing it because Studs begins to more sharply question his mysterious years that seemed inaccessible to him while struggling to maintain separation from his dead girlfriend’s persona that’s residing in him.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I’d finished reading a fantasy novel and thought, “I can write something better than this.” I was so arrogant, I believed it would be easy. I’ve since learned that even a crappy novel requires skill, discipline, and talent to write.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’d submitted a short story to Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine. George Scithers was the editor. He wrote me a very nice personal rejection letter. From then on, I thought of myself as a writer. I believe that he probably wrote many of those letters, but I accepted that it was personal, and for that, I’m eternally grateful to Scithers. His rejection encouraged me to keep writing.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Well, let’s address the first published book, “Returnee.” It is, in essence, a survival story. Based on the future, multiple ideas inspired it. One was the increased use of cell phones and social media, and the increasing need for people to constantly be in touch with one another. A flawed Microsoft update that screwed up computers using Windows Vista, 7, or 8 came out. Getting it fixed required a rollback. At the same time, a new virus was rolling out there, causing issues. I was then contemplating the idea that people are embedded with augmented digital storage, and use virtual assistants as their memory, sex, as therapists, etc.
That led to the idea that a fourth-waver named Brett had a flawed update to his neural-ware and bio-ware. Combined with an accident in space, database errors, and some elapsed time, corrections and repairs eluded him. ‘Fourth-wavers’ is the future term for those people who inhabit a planet for a set period of time after terra-forming to ensure the planet is safe, an over-reaction to one disaster.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I’ll address my first novel for that question.
Returnee works as a term in multiple applications in the novel. In the primary plot, Brett was a Returnee to Earth due to the database error – a place that he didn’t want to go to, because he was a fourth-waver – and he was a Returnee to the corporation he worked for after an extended absence. As there was a huge gap in his knowledge and his functions due to the flawed update, he was also a Returnee to being himself. In the secondary plot, Kimi was a Returnee after being in stasis without his knowledge.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
My style tends toward the fluid. I like stream-of-consciousness thinking and epiphanies.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Well, “Returnee” is based on disastrous software updates that take place, and the ongoing challenge to secure systems and data against hacking. Yet, as it gets more complicated and embedded in our existences, we expose ourselves to greater risk. Technology and its related security is a risk/reward conundrum.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Nothing is ever as it seems, and people have separate perceptions and memories about events, and different plans than what they might reveal.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
The question of a favorite among anything is difficult; favorite, to me, varies by my needs as a person at a given time, so it’ll fluctuate. Sometimes I’ll weary of a writer. But the few whose books I consistently look forward to more than others are Michael Chabon, Tana French, Kate Atkinson, Patrick Rothfuss, Neil Gaiman, C.J. Sansome, and Louise Erdrich. While the others are merely brilliant, Louise is a stunning writer. Her words flow like water, sometimes hard and thunderous or soft and smooth, but always fluid. I strive for that fluid prose. She’s also an insightful story-teller.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
My ‘writing group’. There were a few of us pursuing publication in Ashland, Oregon, and we met, not to seek or give critiques, but to chat as writers about the challenges of writing and publishing. It was uplifting to discover others going through the same tribulations as me.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Yes. It is a career, and I plan to continue it as a career.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Well, it’s still in editing and revision, so I don’t have an insight into anything like that yet.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
Writing is like a river. Some stretches are more challenging than others, but all of it must be endured to finish. Just keep going. I also learned more about quantum physics.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Again, addressing “Returnee,” I’d like to cast Toby Maguire or Sam Rockwell as Brett. I can see either of them fumbling through crashing on Earth and struggling to survive and get their neural-ware and bio-ware updated.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
First, read. Read, read, read. Reading always massages and stimulates my writing urges.
There’s no formula or magic. Find your style and your process. Write for yourself, be true to yourself, be patient and persevere. Whatever. Who am I to give advice on this?
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Yeah, if you read my books, you’re embracing complications, but that’s my take on life. Life and getting through the days is complicated. Meetings and efforts are filled with half-understood, half-explained, and half-assed facts and misunderstandings. We don’t know nearly as much as we think we do, and that’s what the novels are all about, regardless of the genre.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
An old one, “The Shadow of the Wind.”
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?Not really. The first title that comes to mind is “Sabre Jet Ace.”
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Stories of murder, stupidity, discrimination, abuse and cruelness make me cry. I laugh at a lot of things.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
My father as a teenager. I can’t learn anything about his youth, so I’d like to meet the sixteen-year-old version of him to see who he was. Maybe then I can begin to understand more about who he is.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Feeding and herding cats, drinking beer to relax from feeding and herding cats, reading, home improvement projects, walking, and taking care of cats. I like to travel, but I have cats.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
“American Gods,” “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Justified,” “Bosch,” “Raised By Wolves,”“Jack Irish,” “The Expanse,” “Dark Matters,” “Game of Thrones,” “Westworld,” “Rake” (Aussie version with Richard Roxburgh), “The Preacher,” “Into the Badlands,” and “The Americans.” That’s a partial list.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Blueberry pie, purple, classic rock and R&B – Bowie, the Who and the Stones, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Buddy Guy, the Cranberries, and U2 – you get the idea.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Read. Drink beer, paint,and travel. Either that, or become a pro football player. Or a beach bum. It depends on what the cats will allow.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
I don’t plan to have one. I want to be cremated, and then use my ashes as kitty litter to reduce my carbon footprint. I think my cats would appreciate that.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
I certainly do!
Blog – Michael Seidel, Writer
On Facebook – feel free to friend me.
Amazon author page – My novels are all listed on this page:
“Returnee” (Science Fiction)
“Life Lessons with Savanna” and “Road Lessons with Savanna” (Mystery series)
“Everything Not Known” (Science Fiction)
Thanks for the opportunity, Fiona!