Is it August already? Damn. It’s hard to believe my autumnal semester starts up in a couple weeks, and I’ll have to go back to slogging through academic books about public administration instead of, you know, books that are actually fun to read. But, 2015 has been a good year so far. In addition to working hard as an editor and book designer to keep the lights on (and keep Ellie kitty’s food bowl full) in my ‘secret identity’, I managed to publish a half dozen of my own books on Amazon in paperback and Kindle.
Last week, it came to my attention I have been missing out, however, on publishing in a format that Apple’s iStore can make available as iBooks. I don’t own a Mac, so I can’t install the proprietary Apple software for iBook creation. But, it turns out you can submit a Word document to Smashwords, and they will take care of the file conversion for you – provided that you follow their strict guidelines for formatting the document.
Well, since I banged out two more 10,000-word short stories this summer, it seemed like a good time to give Smashwords a whirl by having them distribute an exclusive eBook edition of all the Meteor Mags stories completed since beginning the project last year. Yeah, that’s right: In July, 2015, Meteor Mags celebrated her first year as a fictional character, and you did not send her a damned birthday card! That’s alright. She’ll get over it.
The new eBook, entitled Meteor Mags: Asteroids and Anarchy, clocks in at over 54,000 words, which qualifies it as “novel-length” despite being composed of thematically-related short stories. So, allow us to shamelessly plug it here. It’s available directly from Smashwords for $2.99 in a variety of eBook formats compatible with just about every eBook reader known to the human species. It contains six short stories, three character interviews, and a dozen black-and-white drawings. The eBook just got approved for “premium” distribution, which means it should be available in the Apple iStore, at Barnes & Noble, and wherever else the little elves at Smashwords have magically made it happen.
Smashwords also asks authors to provide a brief interview. So, what the heck. We’ll just post it here in its entirety, below. Enjoy!
What’s the story behind your latest book?
Meteor Mags began her life as an art project, but she ended up becoming my hero. In the majority of action/sci-fi/crime stories, males play the central roles, leaving females stuck in cliché roles as love interests or plot devices for the guys. I thought it would be more interesting to have a leading woman with her own agenda—a woman who would not only prove the equal or better of any man, but also anything life could throw at her.
Some readers might feel Meteor Mags is not a hero at all, but a villain. I think you’ll find Mags isn’t so easy to categorize. She has her own ideas about how things should be done and how life should be lived. Throughout the stories, we get opportunities to see her through other characters’ eyes, and their perceptions of her often contradict each other. Some idolize her, and some despise her. Mags is just too busy doing her own thing to care what they think.
Perhaps Charles Ellms said it best in 1837, in “The Pirates’ Own Book”. In his chapters on Anne Bonny and Mary Read, two female pirates from the early 1700s, he described them as having “a character peculiarly distinguished for every vice that can disgrace humanity, and at the same time for the exertion of the most daring, though brutal, courage.” That sounds like a great description of Meteor Mags to me.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
The poetry and music scene in Ann Arbor, MI, in the 1990s had so many talented, creative people producing their own work independently. In my twenties, I got to meet and interview many of them by hosting poetry readings, volunteering as a DJ, and writing for a local zine. They inspired me to create my own work on my own terms instead of trying to fit into a mold or marketing niche.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
In one of his lessons, American landscape painter Bob Ross explained that on his canvas he could do anything. He could create and reshape worlds on a whim. That freedom and power to make, with words, absolutely anything happen on the page makes fiction writing a uniquely joyous experience.
Do you remember the first book you ever read, and the effect it had on you?
In 1977, when I was four years old, Gramma sent me “The Album of Prehistoric Animals” by author Todd McGowen and illustrator Rod Ruth. I still have that book. Besides beginning a lifelong interest in dinosaurs, it nurtured a love for animal stories and illustration. The flashbacks to Patches’ early life in “Patches the Immortal” pay homage to the many books I enjoyed as a young reader, books which featured animals as the main characters and dealt with their lives in the wild.
What do you read for pleasure?
I am a huge fan of comic books, and not just standard superhero fare. From educational comics like Jay Hosler’s “Clan Apis” (about honeybees) to Brian Wood’s “DMZ” (about a journalist in a New York City torn apart by a modern civil war), I love seeing words and pictures come together to tell great stories.
In fact, Meteor Mags started out as an idea for a comic book, until I realized I would never master sequential art in this lifetime. When writing her short stories, I usually imagine the scenes as comic book pages or panels, and then write what’s happening in those panels.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
In terms of works which may have influenced the Meteor Mags series: Robert Heinlein’s novels, Jack Kirby’s sci-fi comics, Jack London’s “White Fang” and “Call of the Wild”, Mario Puzo’s crime novels, and the “Nexus” comic book series by Mike Baron and Steve Rude. The manga “Lone Wolf and Cub” should really be on this list too.
But because the Meteor Mags timeline covers hundreds of years of history, my bookshelf is rapidly filling with books on pirates, anarchists, billiards, genetics, astronomy, and dinosaurs. Don’t even get me started on what’s happened to my music library, considering every short story has its own playlist and sonic inspirations.
What are you working on next?
The next set of Meteor Mags stories will continue to move the action forward in the year 2029, while also exploring more of Mags’ and her friends’ colorful past.
I have two novella-length stories in progress. “Red Metal at Dawn” is a sci-fi tale that finds Mags, Tarzi, and Patches raiding a secret asteroid laboratory to plunder weapons, meet new characters, and have a major conflict with the “dragons.” The other story, “The Curtain of Fire”, takes us back to Mags’ childhood where she and her mother fought alongside the anarchists in Barcelona. It features an appearance by her Great-grandmother which will reveal how Mags has managed to live so unusually long.