SciFi Rock n’ Roller Coaster Q&A: Author Guest – Patrick Thomas

Howdy folks! Today is an exciting day, as it marks the launch of a new, recurring column I’ll be posting — The SciFi Rock n’ Roller Coaster Author Q&As. Seeing as how I’m a SciFi Guy, love me some rock n’ roll, and have loads of author friends, I figured it was time to have a little extra fun and check in with my fellow creative maniacs. But rather than just your standard ‘what are you to questions’, we here at SFRRC are going to push the boundaries a bit. And to kick off the inaugural column, I recruited my good pal and fellow author Patrick Thomas, who, quite frankly is a heckuva good writer, and maybe the sweetest guy I know!

I hope you enjoy the new column. So here we go!

pat thomas photo sm

Patrick Thomas has had stories published in over three dozen magazines and more than fifty anthologies. He’s written 30+ books including the fantasy humor series Murphy’s Lore, urban fantasy spin offs Fairy With A Gun, Fairy Rides The Lightning, Dead To Rites, Rites of Passage, Lore & Dysorder and two more in the Startenders series. He co-writes the Mystic Investigators paranormal mystery series and The Assassins’ Ball, a traditional mystery, co-authored with John L. French. His darkly humorous advice column Dear Cthulhu includes the collections Have A Dark Day, Good Advice For Bad People, and Cthulhu Knows Best. A number of his books are part of the props department of the CSI television show and one was even thrown at a suspect. Fairy With A Gun was optioned by Laurence Fishburne’s Cinema Gypsy Productions. Drop by www.patthomas.net to learn more.

SciFi Rockin’ Roller Coaster: Hey Pat! You strapped in? Let’s have some fun! Have you ever, or would you ever go sky diving? Details!

Patrick Thomas: Nah. I’m afraid of heights. I went rock climbing once just to prove to myself I could do it. There was much screaming on my part, but I made it to the top so I never have to do it again. So, sky diving not likely without a good reason or a large cash payout.

SFRRC: We have a magic kitchen, which can prepare any meal you want. Cost and prep time are not an issue. You can either eat alone, or invite guests from anywhere in time and space, fictional or real. What’s your ideal, one-time only menu? Who joins you? And what’s the venue?

Pat:  A buffet with everything from shrimp scampi to chocolate soufflé to lobster bisque –pretty much every good food I can think of. Most definitely guests. Lots of guests. Besides family and friends, I’d bring back passed loved ones like my Dad and grandmother, aunts and uncles, friends, even my childhood dog – you didn’t say they’d have to be human.

I’d invite the Marx Brothers, Laurel and Hardy, Elvis, Humphrey Bogart, Mark Twain, Gandhi, and Jesus to start with. I’d have friends that were lost along the way. I’d bring most of the cast of my Murphy’s Lore Universe. Be nice to finally hang with the gang from Bulfinche’s Pub. And the main cast from Exile and Entrance, my first novel. And a host of literary characters – Sheeve and Ahaz, Rincewind and the luggage, Carrot, Granny and the Discworld witches, Spenser and Hawk, Miles Vorkosigan, Garrett, Archie and Nero, Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, Superman, Batman … oh heck, the entire Justice League and Avengers, Ford and Arthur, the characters from the Princess Bride. And that’s just the start, depending on how many the venue could hold.

startenders II_cover 5SFRRC: Speaking of appetites, when it comes to fiction, what three books would you most like to read that you haven’t gotten to yet?

Pat: The Shepherd’s Crown, the *sniff* last Discworld by Terry Pratchett, Marathon Man by William Goldman, and Genius De Milo of course.

SFRRC: What book, in any genre, has stayed with you the longest after you read it?

Pat:  Tough one. The first ones that pop to mind are Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy by Doulas Adams, The Princess Bride by William Goldman, and The Mysterious Stranger and other stories by Mark Twain. And Tales of Time and Space which I read in about 4th grade.

SFRRC: Star Wars or Star Trek? Why?

Pat: Before Phantom Menace, Star Wars. After, it’s a toss -up. Love the epic action of Star Wars Episodes 4-6 and the weekly adventures and optimism of Star Trek.

SFRRC: Favorite character from any SciFi movie?

Pat: H. Phil Lovecraft, PI from Cast a Deadly Spell

SFRRC::  There’s been a resurgence over the last decade, bringing SciFi back to TV. Favorite SciFi show that’s debuted in the past ten 10 years?

Pat: Firefly was a bit longer than 10 years so I’d pick The Flash and Doctor Who.

SFRRC:: We love Rock n’ Roll here at SFRRC. What’s your favorite kind of music? And if you could go on tour with any solo artist or band, for one year, all expenses paid, from any time in history, who would that be?

fairywithagunredoPat:  I love lots of music, but favorite would be the Blues. I even wrote a few songs back in the day and got to sit in with Eddie Shaw and The Wolfgang twice. They used to play with the legendary Howling Wolf. While a number of acts spring to mind – Alice Cooper, The Blues Brothers, The Beatles, Weird Al Yankovic, Harpo Marx, Josie and the Pussycats (c’mon, living in a cartoon adventure and going to outer space for a year would be kind of cool) – I’d have to go with Elvis, but the young one. Although if Harpo was doing a music tour with Groucho and Chico, then I’d be stepping over Elvis’ blue suede shoes to go.

SFRRC:: In our bag of tricks is a single wish, granting you one, specific super power — which you can use at your discretion for one full week. You have to pick now. One-time only offer, and your power can’t be that you can give yourself more powers. What’s your power, and why?

Pat: The most fun would be flying or teleportation, but if I only had a week the one that would make the most difference would be the power to heal. Maybe combine them – the power to make myself and others fly and heal them in the process.

SFRRC: Now that your powers are used up, we can now send you to a magical realm filled with wonders and dangers with almost unlimited possibilities, where you’ll encounter all sorts of creatures, friendly and otherwise. If you go, there’s a 50-50 chance of you making it back to the life you know now. If you do make it back, you’ll be filled with stories to share that authors can only dream of inventing. But if you don’t make it back — whether dead or alive, thriving or not — you can’t ever return, and the people you know in this life will have no idea where you’ve gone or what’s become of you. Would you go?

Pat: Tempting, but not now. After my kids are grown and on their own, I’d probably have a different answer.

SFRRC: When you writing career is over, how would you like to be remembered, both as a person, and as an author?

Pat:  As a good man, a fun and funny guy, a loving father (and grandfather. And great grandfather – I’m not planning on stopping anytime soon.) As a writer who brought readers some joy, gave them a laugh and created characters and worlds that felt like they were a second home with characters they think of as friends.

cthulhu knows best 3 name fix bSFRRC:: OK. We’ve tortured you enough. You’re a writer. What are you working on​ now? Promote away!

Pat: Constellation Prize (the 2nd Startenders book) just came out as did the trade paperback edition of The Assassins’ Ball mystery I wrote with John L. French to follow up on the hardcover last year.

I’m working on a BIG blast for the 20th anniversary of Murphy’s Lore to see how many books I can get done in time for 2017. Hex will be getting his own collection in 2016 and a novel for 2017.

Hopefully there will be a Murphy’s Lore novel for 2017 as well a bunch of collections including young Terrorbelle’s time as a Daemor in Faerie. There is another Dear Cthulhu collection done. I’m working on a podcast humor show, which I’m hoping to premier 4/1/16. I have a middle reader out, finishing up a re-write on a paranormal romance, and I’m shopping an urban fantasy.

www.patthomas.net

https://www.facebook.com/PatrickThomasAuthor

http://astore.amazon.com/patrthomauth-20

 

My Balticon Panel Schedule – May 22-24

Howdy folks!

I’ll be attending the Balticon annual scifi show in Hunt Valley, MD, this weekend.

I’ll be manning my table throughout, selling and signing books, and mixing up with new and returning fans, and sharing a table with my partner in crime and fellow Crazy 8 Press author Aaron Rosenberg.

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If you want to come hear me speak, here’s my panel schedule for the weekend, all on Sunday:

Sunday, May 24

How to Intelligently Do Horrible Things to Your Characters
11 AM
Salon B
Trisha J Wooldridge (M), Katie Bryski, Russ Colchamiro, William Galaini, Joshua Palmatier

Every character does not have an idyllic past, nor is their journey through a story always smooth. How do you decide which of the wide range of awful things happen to your character, and how to treat traumatic events appropriately but not water down the impact of the events on your characters and story

 
Readings: Russ Colchamiro, Adam Ruben, Alex Shvartsman
1 pm
Chesapeak

 
How to Do a Blog Tour
2 pm
Tack
Mel Hayes (M), Starla Huchton, Tee Morris, Maria V Snyder, Russ Colchamiro

How to use a blog tour to generate publicity for your upcoming release.

 

The Book Cover Conundrum – How to Make it Great

This guest post originally appeared on My Loves, Lives, and Passion

The cover for every book is critical, sometimes even more important than us writers want to admit. We want to think that the story we’ve crafted alone should be enough to ‘sell’ our books, but let’s face it: covers sell books.

I’m the same way when I buy books. The cover absolutely helps draw me in.

Genius De MiloWith that in mind, I had very specific ideas about the cover I wanted for my latest novel, Genius de Milo.

I knew I wanted a yellow cover with red type. Why? Because the covers to my other novels are red/purple and blue, respectively, and I wanted contrast as they are lined up on the bookshelf!

But the color scheme is only one aspect. Now I needed a design concept. So I enlisted my pal and fellow author Roy Mauristen, who designs covers for a lot of authors, and does a great job at that.

I started off with the idea that I wanted a lot of turtles on the cover. And I wanted them flipping around like popcorn. Why? Well … it’s important to the story. We tried to make it work, but Roy just couldn’t find the right turtle image. So finally we started over.

And that’s when I switched to the bubbles filled with DNA helixes. Again, these are important to the story. Once I had that idea Roy went off to the races. He did an absolutely fabulous job bringing my idea life, and then added the hand with the pin about to pop one of the bubbles. I wasn’t so sure how I felt about it at first, but I was totally wrong, because it works great, and never would have come up with it myself. That was all Roy.

At that point we made a few tweaks, but otherwise the cover just fell into place.

The response I’ve gotten so far has been fantastic. I’ve gotten nothing but enthusiastic reviews of the cover, so to my pal Roy … thank you!!

The words may tell my story, but the cover helps sell the book.

Now that you can see it for yourself … how’d we do?

Dear Reader By Russ Colchamiro – I Write Some Wacky Novels. Or Do I?

This guest post originally appeared on The Writer’s Life eMagazine

Dear Reader by Russ Colchamiro Dear Reader 3

The Writer’s Life newest feature, Dear Reader, gives authors a chance to talk to their readers – YOU!  

Today’s guest is Russ Colchamiro, author of the scifi/comedy, Genius De Milo.

Dear Reader…

I write some wacky novels. And yet they are also not so wacky.

I’ll explain …

My first book, Finders Keepers, is loosely based on a series of backpacking trips I took through Europe and New Zealand, set against a quest for a jar that contains the Universe’s DNA. ThinkAmerican Pie meets Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

It’s a scifi backpacking comedy that falls under the category of what I like to call ‘Cosmic Lunacy’.

So when people ask me what my book is about, and I give them the explanation, I pretty much get only one of two responses. The first — my favorite — is this one: “Wow! That’s so crazy! How do you come up with this stuff? I gotta read that. Sounds awesome!”

And then I secretly (or not so secretly) bask in the glow of the compliment.

write letter - manYet the second response is juuust a bit different. Which is to say that I am on the receiving end of a blank, stern, judgmental stare — and utter silence.

And though no words are exchanged, I can see the thought balloon above their heads as clearly as the daggers being shot at me from their eyes. And the thought balloon goes something like this: “You are an imbecile. Leave. Now.”

So let me ask: Are you, dear reader, the sort of folk who insists upon rigid, predictable storylines that don’t dare venture in the world of wacky? Or, like yours truly, do you like to have loads of fun?

Because if you are fans of authors such as Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, Tom Robbins, and Christopher Moore, or movies and TV shows such as Harold & Kumar, Bill & Ted, Hot Tub Time Machine, Time Bandits, Groundhog Day, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Quantum Leap, Northern Exposure, and Third Rock from the Sun, you might want to check out Finders Keepers, and my latest novel, Genius de Milo.

Genius de Milo is the second book in the Finders Keepers trilogy, where our bumbling 20-something backpacking heroes Jason Medley and Theo Barnes are once again tasked with retrieving a radioactive jar filled with the Universe’s DNA … before it wipes out the galaxy.

And whereas Finders Keepers was set predominantly in Europe and New Zealand, the action in Genius de Milo has shifted mostly to the U.S. And, of course, there’s lots going on in Eternity, the ‘cosmic’ realm where the Universe is created.

So Genius de Milo is more Midnight Run meets Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Also, since we’re sharing … well, technically, I’m sharing … even though my novels have that authentic you-are-there, on-the-ground feel to them, I kinda, sorta … fabricated all of the backpacking and Earth-bound travel scenes. Yep. I made them up.

But all of the scifi shenanigans are totally real and based on my personal intergalactic experiences.

Because it turns out — shhhhh, don’t tell anyone — I’m actually a fugitive from another dimension and the intergalactic agency in charge of such matters is hot on my trail, looking to drag me back to where I’ll face my day of reckoning.

Can’t say I’m ever looking forward to that.

Anyhoozle … while I’m still on Earth and up to no good, I like to write about the big questions we ask tend to ourselves: What does it all mean? Where do we come from? Is this all a dream? Is life random or is there some grand design?

And then I juxtapose those themes with the smaller, day-to-day questions we all face: How do I feel about my personal relationships? When is the plumber getting here? Is my Internet service working? Can I get the girl? Will my career ever amount to anything? Can I pay my rent? When are we going to see the new Star Wars movie?

So … wacky, but not so wacky.

There’s so much more I could tell you about what I get up to, but … I’ll leave that for my novels. Because if this letter gives you any indication as to the type of author I am, then you know you’ll be in for one heckuva ride.

Wanna come along?

Yours truly along the space time continuum …

Russ Colchamiro

Guest Post: Russ’ Top 10 Writing Tips for Aspiring Authors

This guest post originally appeared on FictionZeal

Guest Post by Russ Colchamiro

Russ’ Top 10 Writing Tips for Aspiring Authors

Throughout my travels as an author, young and aspiring writers often ask me how they themselves can become a great writer.

I usually chuckle – inwardly if not outwardly – not because the question is funny, but because it touches on something all authors seek: what’s the secret formula for success? And the answer is … it’s different for every author.

Genius-De-Milo-bannerI’m not so sure I can turn you into a great writer, but for those who are willing to indulge me, here are my top 10 suggestions for improving as a writer:

  1. Write every day. The more you write, the better you’ll get.
  2. Don’t try to be perfect. As my hero Zig Ziglar says, ‘you don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.’ In other words, if you never write the first word no other words will follow up. Just get going and trust that it will come.
  3. There’s a big and important distinction between writing and editing. To my eyes, the writing phase is the content dump. Just get your thoughts down, even if they are sloppy and convoluted. The editing phase is where the surgical crafting and precision comes in.
  4. Be your own writer. I find so many aspiring authors who want to write like Stephen King or Hemingway or whomever else they love and admire, or whatever’s trending at the time. Having author heroes is great. But you’re not them. You’re you. Write in the style that you find most comfortable.
  5. Don’t fear the blues. Discouragement is natural. Fight through it. Every writer, regardless of age or gender, has at one point or another felt like giving up. Don’t. If you’re stuck or discouraged, take a break. But then get back to it. You need to power through the rough patches to get to the good stuff.
  6. Quality feedback is key. Some writers prefer writer’s groups, others, like me, prefer just a handful of trusted beta readers for input. Whichever you choose, most important is that you enlist the help of readers who will give you the feedback you most need, but not necessarily what you want to hear. Cheerleaders are important, but if you want to improve your story, and your craft, enlist those will give you both technical and structural feedback that enhances or corrects what isn’t working.
  7. Celebrate accomplishments. Writing the first word is a big deal. Without word one, there’s no word two. Finishing a short story or a chapter in your novel is a milestone. So is finishing the first draft, the second, and so on, all the way to getting published, and then, hopefully, making sales. You need the emotional boosts of each milestone to give you juice to keep going. I’m not saying you should throw a parade for each little victory, but take some time to enjoy the small, medium, and big moments. You will have earned them all.
  8. Don’t be afraid to start over. Sometimes the story you’re working on will fall flat. That doesn’t mean the work is done. I’ve had occasion to delete entire chapters, rewrite characters, and even rip out entire sections of a book I’ve written because they just didn’t work, for whatever reason. Starting over is not a failure. It’s a mature acknowledgment that you went of the rails somewhere, and it’s time to course-correct.
  9. Develop a thick skin, because you will get rejected. A lot. So don’t worry about it. Nobody likes rejection, but it’s part of a writer’s life. Sometimes the rejections are fair, sometimes they’re not. We’ve all been there. Welcome to our world. You are now part of the club.
  10. Write because you love it. If you plan on publishing a novel, there is simply no way to predict whether it will achieve commercial success, at any level. But you can always control how dedicated you are to your craft. My suggestion is to focus on the work. Write well, write for yourself, bring on great, brutally honest editors who give you the feedback your book actually needs — and then hire a skilled publicist if you can afford one. And if there’s fame and fortune at the end of your journey, all the better.

Talking Books with Russ Colchamiro, Author of SciFi Comedy ‘Genius de Milo’

This interview was originally posted on As the Page Turns:

Q: Can you tell us what your new book, Genius De Milo, is about?

Russ: My debut novel Finders Keepers is a scifi backpacking comedy … think American Pie meets Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It’s loosely based on a series of backpacking trips I took through Europe and New Zealand, set against a quest for a jar that contains the Universe’s DNA.

My newest book, Genius de Milo, is the second book in the trilogy, where our bumbling backpacking heroes Jason Medley and Theo Barnes are once again tasked with retrieving a radioactive jar filled with the Universe’s DNA … before it wipes out the galaxy.

Genius de Milo (and Finders Keepers) is for fans of authors such as Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, and Christopher Moore, and movies and TV shows such as Harold and Kumar, Bill and Ted, Hot Tub Time Machine, Time Bandits, Quantum Leap, Groundhog Day, Northern Exposure, Third Rock from the Sun … and Midnight Run.

Q: Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

Russ: Visual! Check out these great character illustrations and backgrounders!

http://russcolchamiro.com/books/finders-keepers/character-illustrations/

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

Russ: Usually … they are completely original characters, but from time to time I use someone I’ve met as a baseline, and then I try to make that character distinct from the person I know. I find the more I veer from the real person the better the character becomes. Trying to write a character that’s true to someone you know can be quite restricting. The character you are creating — this fabricated person — needs to think, act, and feel in a way that is true to whomever he or she needs to be within the context of the story, without feeling tied to the “original” person.

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel or do you discover it as you write?

Russ: A combination of both. By the time I’m ready to clack the keys I’ve already plotted out a decent chunk of the narrative, but I always find that the story expands, twists, and turns organically during the writing process. My approach is to let the story unfold as it needs to and fill in the blanks as necessary, rather than trying to force what I “think” is right, but doesn’t “feel” right. It’s important to me that the narrative holds up — that the foundation and its interlocking parts are rock solid. But there also needs to be a rhythm and flow.

Q: Your book is set throughout the United States.  Can you tell us why you chose this country in particular?

Russ: Whereas Finders Keepers was set predominantly in Europe and New Zealand, the action in Genius de Milo has shifted mostly to the U.S. And, of course, there’s lots going on in Eternity, the ‘cosmic’ realm where the Universe is created.

Q: What would you do with an extra hour today if you could do anything you wanted?

Russ: Sleep!

Q: Which holiday is your favorite and why?

Russ: Passover. Because it’s the one instance — to my limited knowledge, anyway — where we celebrate the fact that the Lord kicked some butt in the name of the Jews. I’m not particularly religious, but when the plagues and such are being chucked down on the Pharaoh’s people … it’s like this awesome action movie and the bad guys are getting whupped … big time.

Q: If we were to meet for lunch to talk books, where would we go?

Russ: The park. I love to be outside on a sunny day, yet in the shade, leaning against a big tree.

Q: What do you like to do for fun?

Russ: Spend time with my kids. But if it’s totally just for me: go to the movies, binge watch TV, travel, watch baseball, listen to music, and read.

Q: What kind of advice would you give other fiction authors?

Russ: Write because you love it, write for yourself, and write every day. And if you can make money at it … all the better.

On a more technical level, work with beta readers and editors who will give you actionable feedback that helps you improve the story you’re working on —

and your craft — in very specific ways.

If you’re getting feedback like, “oh, I like that” or “eh, I didn’t get it,” then they’re not really helping you.

Be highly selective, choosing people who will tell you what you actually need to hear, not what you want to hear. And keep your world of trusted ‘advisors’ on the small side. Feedback from too many people will distract and confuse you.

Ultimately … only you can decide what having “success” means to you. There’s lots of disappointment and rejection in being an author, so having a healthy sense of self-worth and realistic expectations will go a long way towards keeping your sanity.

Remember that once you’ve finished your novel and, if it’s published, you are no longer in ‘author’ mode, but in ‘retailer’ mode. You’re trying to sell your books, and that’s an entirely different skill set and experience than writing.

That’s why it’s important to try to manage your expectations and define how you define success.

Being an author is a lot of work, so try to have as much as you can along the way.

– See more at: http://www.asthepageturns.blogspot.com/2015/04/talking-books-with-russ-colchamiro.html#sthash.qGd0NLjZ.dpuf

PUYB Virtual Book Club – Interview with Author Russ Colchamiro

This interview originally appeared on PUYB Virtual Book Club

Welcome to the book club, Russ!  First, I am so in love with that cover.  I don’t know if it’s the colors or what but it just pops.  Before we get into the meat of the interview, can you tell us who did your lovely cover?

Russ: Glad you like the cover for Genius de Milo! It’s really exciting. The design concept is actually mine, including the color scheme and all of the bubbles with the DNA helixes inside. That’s significant to the plot, by the way!

But my pal and fellow author Roy Mauritsen is the creative genius and art designer who brought it all to life. This is his baby. And it was his idea to add the hand with the pin about to pop one of those bubbles. It ties the entire concept together. He did a fantastic job. Roy does covers for lots of people. I hope to work with him again.

PUYB Virtual Bookclub- Large

In your book, Genius De Milo, two teenagers – Jason Medley and Theo Barnes – are backpacking through Europe and New Zealand and they find something interesting. Can you tell us more about that?

Russ: When we first meet Jason and Theo in Finders Keepers, the first book in the trilogy, they are both actually in their early 20s, with Jason from New York and Theo from New Zealand. They not only come from opposite corners of the world, but they have entirely different personalities. Jason hasn’t traveled much, is kind of a nervous Nellie, and has no idea how to get himself from one place to the next! But Theo is more mellow, and an experienced traveler. They meet unexpectedly inVenice, and become fast friends. Together they just seem to fit.

Yet while still in New Zealand, Theo found a jar that causes these hallucinogenic side effects he can’t explain. (The jar contains the Universe’s DNA, but he only discovers that much later). In any case, it makes him feel like he’s winding through the fabric of the Universe, so he’s compelled to find answers, and finds his way to Europe.

Jason knows none of this when they first meet in Venice, but by the time their adventure is over, they’ve pretty much saved the Milky Way from disaster.

My new book, Genius de Milo, picks up a few years after that. The Universe is fluxing in and out of Existence, Theo’s twin three-year-old girls are teleporting, and Jason can’t tell which version of his life is real. That’s because Milo – the Universe’s gremlin — got his hands on that jar of DNA and is causing trouble.

That sends Jason and Theo across America to put things right, and keepMilo from destroying the planet. Again. Along the way they are joined by Jamie — a hotel clerk from Eternity — who may or may not have their best interests in mind.

Take us into the lives of Jason and Theo – what are their strengths and what are their weaknesses?

Russ: In Genius de Milo Theo is now a family, but he still has that travel bug in him. He almost always wishes he were out there in the world going on adventures, so he’s not as focused on the here and now as he probably should be. But because of that innate adventurer’s spirit — and the temperament to just kind of roll with the punches if those journeys don’t go according to plan — he’s able to keep them on track, even when he and Jason veer way, way, way off course.

Jason, meanwhile, is far more grounded, and in fact is about to propose to his girlfriend. He’s building a career, and genuinely wants to help other people. But he still inherently seeks the approval of others, and has trouble trusting that he’s on the right path. What confuses him most — but may in fact be his greatest asset given the predicament they are in — is that despite his generally conservative nature he seems to be in tune with the shifts in the Universe.

Meaning … he’s really quite intuitive about the sense that things aren’t ‘quite right’, and even though he’s not sure what that means, and that nobody other than Theo could possibly understand him, he’s learning to trust those instincts more, and make decisions accordingly. And sometimes that means sacrificing what he wants for what others need.

How did you come up with such a cute storyline?

Russ: The Finders Keepers series is loosely based on a series of backpacking trips I’ve taken over the years through Europe and New Zealand and my travels across the U.S.

Separately …  years ago I had been tinkering around with some story ideas and one day, out of nowhere, a line popped into my head:

“Jason Medley had on his night stand a jar that contained the essence of the universe.”

And I said to myself: “Who in the heck is Jason Medley and what on God’s green earth is the essence of the universe?”

I really didn’t know the answer to either, but my own travels where so outrageous that I started to see the narrative coming together, linking my trips around the world with this tale of cosmic lunacy — an Earthbound backpacking adventure meets Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Also … I read a lot about philosophy, mythology, and spirituality, which have become core tenants of my personal life. Those ideas are very much a part of this series. And don’t worry … these are fun and funny popcorn books and are meant to put a smile on your face. But there’s real substance too.

They say that all books of fiction have at least one pivotal point where the reader just can’t put the book down.  What do you think is that one pivotal point in Genuis De Milo?

Russ: I know it would be totally lame of me to say that I think there are tons of pivotal moments! Ha! But early on The Minder of the Universe — that’s the omnipresent character who basically oversees the Universe — discovers that the Earth is fluxing in and out of its existence, and that if something isn’t done about it soon, the planet he loves most will be wiped out forever. He also realizes that Milo, his ultimate eternal foil, is the cause. So it’s game on!

And, of course, Jason and Theo end up right smack in the middle of this galactic smack down.

If that doesn’t give you an idea of what you’re in for with Genius de Mio, I’m not sure what will.

What’s next for you, Russ?

Russ: I’m already working on the third and final book in the Finders Keepers trilogy, which I’m hoping will be ready by Fall 2016. I’m also contributing a short story to Pangaea, an alternate reality anthology my author pals and I at Crazy 8 Press are writing. Pangaea was actually successfully funded through a Kickstarter campaign. After that … lots more books!

 

In the Writer’s Chair: Is Author Russ Colchamiro a Genius or Moron? You Be the Judge

This blog entry originally appeared as a ‘Guest Post’ on Lori’s Reading Corner

loriGenius or Moron? You Be the Judge

When people ask me about the Finders Keepers series, which includes Finders Keepers and now Genius de Milo, I give them my standard answer:

They’re loosely based on a series of backpacking and road trips I took across Europe, New Zealand, and the U.S., set against a quest for a jar that contains the Universe’s DNA. Think road trip movies meet Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

And after given my little elevator speech, I typically get one of two responses. The first one is usually something like: “Whoa! Dude! That’s awesome! Where do you come up with these ideas? I need to read that!”

Admittedly, that’s a fun response.

The other typical exchange, however, is slightly different.

I say my bit, but instead of unbridled enthusiasm I am usually on the receiving end of a stern, cold, blank stare – accompanied by utter silence. I also can also pretty much see the thought balloons over their heads, and they go something like this: “You are an utter moron. Leave. Immediately.”

So I understand going in that when it comes to my sci-fi backpacking comedies — in the genre of what I like to call ‘Cosmic Lunacy’ — they’re not for everyone. That was never my intention.

If you’re the kind of person that prefers nonfiction, or history, New Yorker-style ‘literature’, or hard boiled spy novels, these books are probably not for you.

But if you’re a fan of Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, and Christopher Moore, and movies and TV shows such as Harold & Kumar, Bill & Ted, Hot Tub Time Machine, The Big Bang Theory, Time Bandits, Quantum Leap, Groundhog Day, Northern Exposure, and Third Rock from the Sun, then you’ll probably enjoy Finders Keepers and Genius de Milo.

I like to have fun when I write. And I want you, the reader, to have fun, too. I like to write big and wacky, but also bring disparate characters together on one big cosmic journey.

If you want to meet some of the characters, you can check out these illustrations: http://russcolchamiro.com/books/finders-keepers/character-illustrations/

Am I a genius? A moron? Neither? Both?

I’ll let you be the judge.

But give my books a chance. You just might be surprised …

In the Writer’s Chair: The Story Behind the Story – ‘Genius de Milo’

This guest blog originally appeared in The Story Behind the Book

***

Much like the structure of my novels, the story behind the story is a three part adventure …

Part I: Chance Encounter

Back in college I ran into a guy I knew a little bit, but not well. Scott. I was in the classroom building, and Scott asked me what I was up to. I told him I had a semester left of classes, and then I was going to do my student teaching (I was on track to become Genius De Milo 2a High School English teacher).

He said: “Why don’t you take an extra semester and go on exchange to Europe?”

Immediately and without thinking about it I retorted, “I can’t.”

And he said, “Why not?”

Stunned, I had no answer. I was so used to saying ‘no’ to life back then that I rejected the idea out of pure instinct. But I really wanted to be a ‘yes’ to life person. And going on this exchange program overseas was something I had really wanted to do, even though — back then — it was so unlike me to actually do it.

So immediately after Scott and I spoke I applied for and was accepted into the International exchange program. The next summer I spent a month backpacking across Europe, and then went to Manchester Metropolitan University in northern England for my final semester.

Funny thing was, I rarely ever saw Scott before that one encounter, and I never saw him after. Ever. But that one, single conversation helped changed my life, and though he doesn’t know it, I have Scott to thank for it. He was the specific catalyst I needed at that very moment in time and space.

That spirit, that magical quality of having just the right person at just the right time come into my life is the very spirit that I try to capture in my books, starting with Finders Keepers.

Which takes us back to the trip itself…

Part II: The Netherworld Effect

There’s a time in life when you’re caught in the netherworld between college and a career, when you’re not a student anymore but you don’t want to grow up, have a career, pay your bills. You know the drill. You’re stuck in that middle zone and I wanted Finders Keepers to capture that, that sense that anything is possible, but because anything is possible, it can get a little scary and overwhelming.

I hadn’t traveled much back then. I was still very naïve. This was in 1994, a completely different world than what we know today. There was no Internet, no cell phones, no Facebook or Twitter. You couldn’t Google a place to stay in Barcelona because there was no Google. If you were stuck in the middle of Romania in the middle of the night — which actually happened to me — guess what? You were actually stuck.

So while I was backpacking in Europe I had this very wild, frantic, unpredictable adventure that legitimately changed my outlook on life. I know it sounds cliché, but in my case it’s absolutely true. A lot of my trip — the people I met, the places I saw, the trouble I got into — made it into the novel, including a guy I met from New Zealand, who became one of my best friends.

About a year later he came out to see me in the U.S., when I was living in Tempe, Arizona, and then fast forward again to early 2001 and I went to see him this time, in New Zealand.

As I say in my new book, Genius de Milo, the sequel to Finders Keepers, he and I only seem to do things big. And I’m not typically a do-things-big kinda guy. But our adventures together are the backbone of the series.

Part III: Sci-fi Shenanigans? Say What Now?

On a totally separate track … I had been tinkering around with a couple of story ideas and one day, out of nowhere, a line popped into my head:

“Jason Medley had on his night stand a jar that contained the essence of the universe”.

And I said to myself: “Who in the heck is Jason Medley and what on God’s green earth is the essence of the universe?”

I really didn’t know the answer to either, but after going on these travels and collecting notes, I started to see the narrative coming together, linking these outrageous trips I took with this tale of cosmic lunacy — an Earthbound backpacking trip meets Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

And thus the Finders Keepers series was born.

My newest book, Genius de Milo, is the second book in the trilogy, where my bumbling backpacking heroes Jason Medley and Theo Barnes — based on me and my pal from New Zealand — are once again tasked with retrieving a radioactive jar filled with the Universe’s DNA … before it wipes out the galaxy.

Genius de Milo (and Finders Keepers) is for fans of authors such as Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, and Christopher Moore, and movies and TV shows such as Harold & Kumar, Bill & Ted, Hot Tub Time Machine, Time Bandits, Quantum Leap, Groundhog Day, Northern Exposure, and Third Rock from the Sun.

And whereas Finders Keepers was set predominantly in Europe and New Zealand, the action in Genius de Milo has shifted mostly to the U.S. And, of course, there’s lots going on in Eternity, the ‘cosmic’ realm where the Universe is created.

And once I take a little breather, I’ll be writing the third and final book in the Finders Keepers trilogy. I’ll just need to take one more trip to pull it all together …

My Review: Daredevil Eps 1-4 – Netflix

After 4 episodes of ‪Daredevil‬ on ‎Netflix‬, they are really getting it right, with a show much better — and more solid — than I think we had a right to expect. I love that they film in New York rather than using stand-ins, with Vincent D’Onfrio as Wilson Fisk, Rosario Dawson as nurse Claire and Vondie Curtis-Hall as reporter Ben Urich as standouts.

DDNetflixI also appreciate a lot of the shadowy lighting, which gives the tone of the show a realism that often is lacking in genre TV. And I thought they did a really nice job with the back story of Battlin’ Jack Murdock, which is so important to Matt Murdock/Daredevil’s motivations.

If there’s a weakness in the show, for me it’s actually Charlie Cox as Daredevil himself. He’s not bad. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a tough role to play. But it’s obvious that he’s struggling w the American accent, forcing himself to ‘sound’ American, with a lot of the charisma he showed in Boardwalk Empire somewhat lacking here.

Brit Charlie Hunnam said he had the same issue during the first season of Sons of Anarchy, focusing so hard on making his facial muscles contort to the sound of the American dialect that he found his breathing restricted, which thus made him more rigid than he wanted. But once he got the hang of it, he got much loser, and it showed in his performance throughout the rest of the series.

So maybe the same will happen for Charlie Cox.

I also find Elden Henson working just a little too hard as Foggy Nelson. If he would ease up even just a little bit, it would go a long way.

In any case, there’s really just so much to like here I can’t wait to see what comes next.

Daredevil is off to a great start.

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