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?
Hi my name is Michael Kilman and I am 35 years old.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I’m currently from Denver, Colorado in the United States but I grew up in part on the east coast in Philadelphia.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
Well, my day job is a lecturer (part time professor) at the University of Colorado at Denver and at Metro State University of Denver. I have a graduate degree in Anthropology with a focus on media systems, globalization and I have spent a lot of my career working with Native American tribes around the country. I have made several documentary films and I have a YouTube channel on anthropology called Anthropology in 10 or Less. In terms of my family I have four children and a grew up with a huge family. I am also a practicing Buddhist.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
I am wrapping up the first draft of my forth novel in my dystopian sci-fi series ‘The Chronicles of the Great Migration’. Book 4 is called ‘Serah of the Runners.’
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I really started writing as a teenager. In high school I took a course in creative writing and one in poetry. I have been writing ever since. I guess I started writing because I was an avid reader. I remember that for a little while, my dad would come home with a new book for me every week, mostly The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles or one of those other adventure novels. When I got through those he gave me Michael Crichton books like Jurassic Park and Sphere. That combined with watching things like Star Trek made me constantly think about other worlds and far off places and so once I took a creative writing course in high school I started writing them down.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I guess I really started thinking about that when I took a creative writing course in college. For a brief time I wanted to get a degree in writing, though I ultimately went for anthropology. But that was when I started thinking about writing more consistently. I tried to write a book at age 16 (it was terrible, I know I have copies still) and then again in my early twenties. But beyond some shorts, I never really felt like I wrote anything decent, at least not till I was a graduate student.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
This is a bit of a complex question for me because what ended up being my first published novel was actually thewritten after what became the second and the third book in the series. Basically, I have a bad habit (or good one I think) of writing things out of order. But ‘Mimi of the Nowhere’ really came out in part of some of my graduate research. My graduate research was about a theatre troupe that let community members tell stories. One of those stories was about a homeless man named Billy who died a violent death alone on the streets. So, when thinking about a future world, I wondered what it would be like to be homeless inside of a giant walking city, which is ultimately what Mimi of the Nowhere became.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
This is actually a kind of funny inside joke. One of my beta readers for Upon Stilted Cities was a good friend of mine named Mimi. So as a joke, and because I knew she was beta reading for me, I dropped her name in there as a really minor character, really just a cameo. Well, I used to tease my friend, who has lived in a ton of different places around the world, that she was nomadic and that she wasn’t really anywhere. So as a joke, I introduced the character in Book 2 as “Mimi of the Nowhere”. But then, I got to thinking, what does Nowhere mean inside of a city walks? So, I started writing a short story about a homeless women who wandered the hidden places of the city that no one really goes. Next thing I knew, it was a 43,000 word novel and it just seemed like it made sense to title it, Mimi of the Nowhere, since that was what gave birth to the whole idea in the first place.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I am a pantser through and through. Basically I write whatever comes. Sometimes this can be difficult because I get bogged down in several projects at once. Short stories and other novel ideas seem to pop up all the time, so unless I set a deadline for a book then I have a tough time focusing. The result is though, that I always have 3-5 novels I am working on at once and I think it’s a lot of fun.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
The only character that is even remotely based on a real person is Mimi and even then the similarities stop at a few of her mannerisms, her name, and her ethnicity. Other than that they are different people. But if course, everything we experience in life is soil and fertilizer right?
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
It’s an interesting question. I have travelled quit a bit, especially around the United States but I don’t need to travel to write. However, I am a fairly avid cyclist and for whatever reason whenever I am on a long ride, I will have ideas pop in my head. Thankfully I have an ap on my phone that links me to all my works so I can just ad notes or whatever I need to. I have probably typed 20k words sitting on the side of a road or trail in the area on a phone. No easy task mind you, but when inspiration strikes right?
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
My current covers are designed by a guy from the east coast named Gabriel Perez. I met him on twitter. He is a truly talented guy and I love his work. You can find him at https://www.artofgp.com/
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Persist. Continue. Keep going. But most of all, find ways to work together. My book series are really about these things. If we can find common ground with people we don’t like or don’t understand, and if we can put one foot in front of the other, even in our darkest times, we can come through as a species. I love people and I tend to be an optimist. I have seen and heard of people coming through some absolute horrific things only to come out on the other side transformed and whole. Sometimes it is in that persistence and against all odds that we really find deep meaning and courage.
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?
I would say in terms of my genre people like Anne Leckie have really caught my attention, though she isn’t terribly new at this point. I am also a huge fan of Stephen King, Ursula K Leguin, Frank Herbert, and Dan Simmons. To me when I struggle to write well, I crack open one of their books and read some of their stuff and kind of drink in their words and it seems to get the motor running again for me. I think good fiction (whatever you feel is good fiction) is like a good meal. If you consume it on a regular basis you’re writing flows well. If you starve yourself, well, your writing comes across that way.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
Well I have to say that there are a number of amazing social media forums full of supportive people out there. 20booksto20k, Indie Author Support, and numerous others on Facebook and other places were very helpful in the process. Of course I had a lot of friends and family members who, once they actually read some of my stuff were encouraging, but every writer knows it’s a pain to get people you know to read your work haha.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Absolutely. I take it very seriously. I try to read at least a book a month on improving writing craft and self-editing. I also do what I call, read critically. When I am reading a book and there is a passage that I just love. I will stop, reread it again and analyze what made it work and what didn’t. Similarly if there is something boring or terrible, I do the same thing. Then, when I am editing my own work, I try to think of the things that were good and bad that I have seen in other authors. Sometimes I will write down quotes or passages or particularly interesting metaphors to see why and how they worked or didn’t.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Nope, and I am sure a lot of author’s say this, but I was really happy with the final products of my first three books.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
Not to hint at spoilers for book 4, but I recently had to spend some time looking into how we think low gravity and weightlessness would likely act upon an entire culture’s bodies over the course of centuries. But I love having to do research for books.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
This is a tough question for me because I am face blind. If you aren’t familiar with the condition, it basically means that I can’t see faces (tell them apart) or retain them in memory. So when I write, I don’t really see people in my head the way I think most do. So I don’t think I have ever really pictured any of my characters in terms of celebrities. However, someone did bring this up to me about Mimi a few months back, and I thought that Michelle Yeoh would make a good Mimi.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Build the habit and don’t give up. But I would say also, find a community. Find a situation where you are going to share some of your work now and again and a community that will give you good feedback. It could be just a group of friends, it could be an open mic night, just something to help you build the habit.
The other thing I would suggest is experiment and play. Try to write flash fiction. Try to write out of your genre or poetry. Try writing a screenplay. Do something you are uncomfortable with doing because, I promise you, it will help you grow as a writer. Besides, most good books have moments of terror or romance or suspense don’t they? Just because something isn’t your genre, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have something of value to help your writing. Also, I really do feel like writing flash fiction and shorts are beneficial for us long winded novelists. There is something really powerful about having to learn to write a great story in 1000 words or less, or 5000 words or less.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
No, I have no idea how this series is going to end… I never do. I have had a few people asking for reassurance after the end of book 3 because things are looking pretty bleak. But all I can say is that book 4 caught me by surprise.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Oh boy… which one? I have the bad habit of reading about 5-10 books at the same time. But some of them include, “The Stand” by Stephen King. “Where Will My Story End” by Sarah Louise Rosmond. “The Anatomy of Story” by John Truby, and Not for Happiness (A book on Meditation) by DzongsarJamyangKhvetse just to name a few.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Green Eggs and Ham was the first one I read by myself. The first chapter book I read by myself was ‘The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.”
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
If you want to make me cry, plop me down in front of the movie Gataga or the Shawshank Redemption. Those movies, watching all the stuff the characters go through and still persist, get’s me all worked up. Hahaha. In terms of humor I love, Hitch Hikers Guide the Galaxy or Monty Python and maybe throw in some Terry Pratchett and occasionally some dark or raunchy humor like Rick and Morty or the show Archer.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
I think either the Historical Buddha or Gandhi. They had such fascinating lives and insights about human nature.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
I am a cyclist, an avid meditator, hiker, I play guitar, and of course read tons of books.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I am big into anything that asks deep philosophical questions so mostly Sci-Fi and Fantasy stuff along with some horror. I think horror done well asks questions about the nature of fear and the human experience. I am also a big fan of the Marvel TV shows and movies because they are just so much fun. I like nerdy stuff too, IT Crowd, Venture Brothers, Star Trek (which yes, is way better than Star Wars though Star Wars is a lot of fun too) and Stargate to name a few. I am an anthropologist at heart and in study and so anything that puts people in unique places or settings I usually enjoy.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
My music is pretty diverse. I have had a few friends over the years who were Ethnomusicologists (the cultural study of music) so I listen to stuff from all over the world but I like a lot of American Indie Rock and Post Rock as well as classical music (with a focus on string quartets), Hip Hop (The more political the better) and some classic Jazz. The one kind of music that I really don’t like is country.
Favoritecolor is orange. Food, I grew up on the east coast, so pizza, cheesesteaks, hogies, all the stuff that will kill you by fifty haha. But I do make a mean spinach, kale, banana and berry smoothie after I cycle for forty miles.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
At all? Like no poetry? No research? Nothing?
I guess I would cycle, hike, spend time with my family and spend lots of hours in meditation.
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
Honestly, if I could and was physically able. Lots of sex. Hahaha I mean, if you are going to go out, enjoy it right? If that wasn’t possible say my goodbyes and then spend my remaining hours in meditation.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
I don’t want one. I want there to be nothing left of my physical body when I go. Either scatter my ashes or do one of those new plant fertilizer things where a tree grows from my remains.
But if I had to have one it would read… “Persist Above All.”
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
I blog fairly regularly at my website. https://loridianslaboratory.com/
I do have a Patreon Page as well if you want to get more exclusive stuff and early access to updates. https://www.patreon.com/LoridiansLaboratory
Amazon Authors page USA https://www.amazon.com/Michael-Kilman/e/B07D3F637Z?ref=dbs_mng_calw_a_0