MICHAEL GARDNER: ONE OF NEW ZEALAND’S BEST SCI-FI/FANTASY WRITERS
This is my third interview with a co-author of the new Sci-fi and Fantasy anthology, Reality Glitch: 11 exciting stories by authors from around the world. Today I am excited to have with me a friend and a terrific author, Michael Gardner.
It’s wonderful to have you here. I’m excited to have my readers get to know you and your work. Let’s get started, shall we?
Tell us a little something about yourself, Mike.
I’m a humble writer from Aotearoa, Land of the Long White Cloud, better known as
. I’ve been writing for
as long as I can remember. My first work, aged two, was written in red crayon
on the kitchen wall. It wasn’t well received. Since then I have been working on
my craft to please my readers more. Without a reader, an author is nothing. New Zealand
Writing has been a great journey. When I started the journey, I thought I was destined to be a science fiction and fantasy writer. I love these genres but the more I write, the more I’ve discovered I just like to tell stories.
Other than Reality Glitch, what are you now working on?
Valley of the Shadow (The Hand of the Khryseoi: Part 1)
And when is its expected date of publication?
6 June 2016
Great! I can’t wait to read it. What’s the genre?
It’s an Epic Fantasy / Paranormal Fantasy
Can you tell us a little about the book?
The Hand of the Khryseoi: In the distant past, an army of men and women were called upon to defend the earth from a great evil: Eurynomos, the God of Death. They were granted immortal gifts and named the Khryseoi, the spirits of the Golden Age. This is their story.
Part One: Valley of the Shadow
The great war between the Khryseoi and Eurynomos has been won at a great cost. Phylasso, the leader of the Khryseoi, has sacrificed himself to bring the war to an end. As time passes, Raven, a Khryseoi bowman, discovers Eurynomos’s servants still roam the earth, murdering the Khryseoi from the shadows. With Phylasso gone, Raven faces his greatest challenge, to reunite the Khryseoi and stop Eurynomos’s dark spirits before they destroy all life on earth.
Wow! Sounds exciting. What was the biggest challenge you faced writing this book and how did you overcome it?
Valley of the Shadow has been swirling around my head for about 20 years. About 10 years ago, I put fingers to keyboard and wrote the story as one book. It was okay but I realised I’d missed the potential of the larger story. After I broke it down, I realised I had to reinvent the way it was told, to start again from scratch. No writer likes having to throw out a manuscript and start again. I did my planning work and saw I had a book with three distinct movements, three climaxes and enough material for a ballpark of 250,000 words. As novels go, that’s a sizeable ballpark! The work seemed daunting and I admit I found reasons not to make a start. Yes, writers can procrastinate by finding other things to write about. But this book was always there, like a pressure valve inside my head.
My subconscious did the job of overcoming the hurdle. I found myself at the keyboard writing a short story called Writer’s Block (which features in Reality Glitch). Writer’s Block is about a guy who has to write The Lord of the Rings from memory. Essentially, that’s what any writer does when they write a book; they write it from memory. That short story did the trick. Straight after Writer’s Block was published, I was busy working on the opening to Valley of the Shadow.
So, what is next?
Well, parts two and three obviously. I’ve started so I have to finish. It is one book, even though it’s going to be published in three parts. The working titles for parts two and three are Daemon Fire and My Brother, My Enemy. But next I’m going to have a break, a writer’s break that is, which isn’t a break at all because I’ll be busy writing. I feel weird if I’m not working on something. [Laughs]. Anyway, my break will be to finish a short story. I get a lot of inspiration from dreams and I woke up one morning with a short story fully formed. So that’s next.
Is there anything you want to make sure potential readers know?
Yes. Valley of the Shadow may be Paranormal Fantasy, but don’t expect Twilight. This is a totally different book, drawing on Greek mythology for inspiration. This first part takes place during the Classical Greek and Roman eras.
Are there any occupational hazards to being a novelist?
Absolutely. Health and Safety are after me on a number of counts. First, there’s sleep deprivation. When you’ve gotta write you’ve gotta keep going until you’re finished or you fall over trying. Second, partner alienation, which happens as a result of locking yourself away in an anti-social manner to write a book. Alienated partners can inflict grievous injury, with the power of their tongues alone. Finally, writing is an incurable condition. There’s no pill or operation that’ll make you stop wanting to do it. I’m filling out Health and Safety forms like crazy!
Do you have another job outside of writing?
Yes. I’m a writer. ARGH! I write website copy, magazine articles and sometimes work for the local paper as a stringer.
What do you consider your biggest failure?
I wish I’d been serious about writing fiction a long time ago. Serious is the key word there. I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, but not with the urgency you need to get a novel finished to a decent standard. I knew I’d always wanted to write something, but writing novels was something that novelists did. I had no idea how to start, and not for lack of finding pen and paper, but because I’d told myself I wasn’t a novelist. I was flying home from holiday and filling out the arrivals form for customs when I had a moment and wrote ‘writer’ in the ‘occupation’ field. That was the turning point. Looking back, my life has made me who I am and I don’t have any regrets, but I do have to get a move on. I have a ton of stories to write and fewer years to write them all.
Who has been your greatest inspiration?
This is going to sound politically correct but it’s the truth. My partner first of all. She believes in me and gives me her unconditional support. That inspires me because I want to prove to her that her faith in me is well placed. Also my dear old mum. I owe my mum so much. As kids, she took us to the library every week. We had to get a book. We had to read. I discovered the wonderful world of literature and have never looked back. She’s a writer too and has taught me so much about the craft.
Okay, now comes the part of the interview where I ask four quick questions and hope for four quick replies. Ready?
My best friend would tell you: I’m a happy, easy-going guy. Usually when it’s my turn to buy a round.
The one thing I cannot do without is: cheese, beer, my computer, my partner (better put her in), my PS4, a good book, sleep… oh wait… did you say one?
My biggest peeve is: finding typos in my work.
The thing I’m most satisfied with is: currently, I’m really satisfied with how Valley of the Shadow has come together. I surprised myself with what has emerged in the story. I’ve had some great beta readers and editorial support. I think it’s a book people will enjoy reading. At the end of the day, that’s why we write: for readers.
Great interview, Mike. Thanks so much.
Michael has agreed to give our readers a special sneak peak at his latest book, Valley of the Shadow (The Hand of the Khryseoi: Part 1)
The horizon was a streak of silver fire separating the ruined land from the dark clouds seething above. Thousands of bodies lay on the blackened plains: men, women, and twisted creatures that might have once been human. The air carried the bitter scent of burnt flesh.
Raven stood on the crest of a lifeless hill overlooking the valley. He was dressed in a ragged cloak, giving him the appearance of a great black bird. He held a long bow. A single arrow remained in his quiver but he let the bow slip from his fingers. “Tell me what happens when you die,” he said, in a voice hoarse from shouting.
At his side stood a heavy-set, blond man with a mane of a beard, also carrying a long bow, which he was using as a crutch. Wolf’s chiton had long since faded to a shade of mottled grey and was covered with dirt and dried blood, although the seams were still bright with yellow dye. He glanced at Raven. “It’s extraordinary, in four hundred years you’ve never died… not once.”
“Perhaps I’m lucky,” said Raven. “Please, tell me again.”
“I’ve told you at least a dozen times.”
Raven looked up at the sky. For a moment, a glimpse of blue appeared through a crack in the shifting clouds. He opened his mouth, but before he could speak, the clouds had closed again. Looking at his companion, he saw Wolf’s eyes were firmly fixed on the road, a scar on the earth running along the valley. He sat down and gathered his knees under his chin. “This war. I thought I’d feel differently about it coming to an end,” he said.
Wolf cleared his throat. “Differently?”
“Yes. At first, I thought I’d feel some sense of triumph. Then I imagined I’d be full of sorrow for the friends we’d lose.”
Wolf kicked a stone, and Raven listened to it clatter down the hill. “I feel only numb. Is it wrong to feel this way?”
“Give it time,” said Wolf.
“For a moment, I thought I saw the blue sky,” said Raven, looking up again.
Wolf raised his bushy eyebrows, but didn’t remove his gaze from the road where their comrades had set out hours before. He put his thumb to his teeth and chewed the nail.
Raven began to count bodies. He lost track and gave up. The battle had been a swift and brutal affair. The engagements always happened fast. After, they would regroup and gather their strength for the next exchange, but now Phylasso, their leader, had called for an all-or-nothing assault. His plan had come as a shock, not because of the bolder strategy, but because now the war would be decided for better or worse.
You can learn more about Michael Gardner’s work on Amazon and on Goodreads. Here are the links: (P.S. Don’t forget to buy some of his books: you won’t regret it!)
Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Michael-Gardner/e/B00D8MA0OS
Goodreads author page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7159959.Michael_Gardner