The Russ Colchamiro Astropalooza Interview – Self Publisher’s Showcase

The Russ Colchamiro Astropalooza Interview

Russ Interview

Self-Publisher’s Showcase: Today we are joined by Russ Colchamiro, author of the Finders Keepers science fiction comedy series, which includes Finders Keepers, Genius De Milo, and his newest book—the final in the trilogy—Astropalooza. Welcome to the Showcase Lounge, Russ

RC: Thanks, guys!

SPS: For any of our readers that haven’t come across the Finders Keepers trilogy previously, can you take a moment to tell us all a little about the story leading up to the release of Astropalooza, the final part of the trilogy?

RC: Sure. The first book in the series – Finders Keepers – is loosely based on a series of backpacking trips I took through Europe and New Zealand, set against the quest for a jar that contains the Universe’s DNA. Think Bill & Ted meets Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

So you have these two knuckleheads – Jason Medley, from New Yok, and Theo Barnes, from Auckland, New Zealand, who are on their last hurrah – after college – but before they have to pay rent and be responsible adults! So while they’re backpacking, their biggest worries are … can I get the cute girl? Can I make my train to Amsterdam? I’m hung over … again. Meanwhile, the fate of the galaxy is hanging in the balance, and they’re at the center of it, with characters from Earth and the Cosmos hunting them down, to claim this jar of the Universe’s DNA, which, if opened prematurely, could dissolved the Milky Way. Only, the guys don’t realize it, and you do, so as the reader, you’re in the joke, and they’re not.

In Genius de Milo … Milo, the Universe’s Great Disruptor – essentially, the Universe’s gremlin – squares off against the Minder of the Universe, essentially, the God the character. They are Cosmic foils basically battling for the status of the Universe.

In any case, Milo seems to have initiated the end of the Milky Way, and possibly worse. Only this time our bumbling backpackers are trekking across America to once again retrieve that jar that keeps causing trouble. But in both books, every time the guys think they have saved the day, their ‘solution’ actually makes things much much worse! LOL! Which takes us to Astropalooza.

SPS:  Was it always your intention to write the story as a trilogy?

RC: Ha! No! LOL! When I wrote Finders Keepers, it was a stand-alone adventure. I had a very specific story I wanted to tell, and tell it in a very specific way. But I intentionally gave it an open ending, because deep down I suspected there was a lot more story.

SPS: How far through the series did you plan? Have you always known the eventual outcome?

RC: After Finders Keepers, I took time away from those characters to start an entirely different novel, Crossline, which is an action adventure in the spirit of Firefly, Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, Farscape, and Escape from New York. Our space pilot hero, Marcus Powell, while testing experimental warp thrusters, is forced through a wormhole and into a parallel Earth, and gets roped into this wild scenario that actually links back to his home Earth, where the CEO of the private space program that launched that flight through the wormhole has his own motivations … and not necessarily to Powell’s benefit. It was loads of fun, and got tremendous reviews.

But as I was writing Crossline I had that classic a-ha moment where I suddenly knew the basic concept for the Finders Keepers sequel, which became Genius de Milo. I knew then that I was going to tell a trilogy. About half-way through Genius de Milo, I worked out the conclusion to the entire series, including where every character would end up. That allowed me to write Genius de Milo with a lot more confidence and assertiveness, because not only was I telling a self-contained story for that book, but I was laying the groundwork in a very specific way leading up to the third and final book in the series, which became Astropalooza.

SPS: Would you say that your writing style has progressed through the trilogy?

RC: No doubt. In Finders Keepers, there’s a definite frenetic, madcap energy to it which I absolutely love, whereas with the next two books the tone and feel are more similar, my writing more confident and expansive (IMHO) as the books progress.

SPS: Was there anything you wished you’d done differently in the first two books when it came to writing the third?

RC: I’m extremely proud of Finders Keepers, especially given that it was my first book. But sure, there are a few things I would have changed if I knew then what I know now. Kinda like life! Ha! But live and learn, huh?

SPS: What can we expect from this final part of the trilogy?

RC: With the conclusion of the second book, Genius de Milo, which I saw in my mind’s eye from the very first moment I wanted to write that book, the guys do again ‘save the day,’ only this time they have inadvertently set in motion the next Big Bang. So in Astropalooza we have these two huge energy waves of the Universe’s DNA barrelling across the Universe towards each other.

Whereas the first two books are split between Earth and the Cosmos, Astropalooza is set almost entirely in the cosmic realm, where the guys have to stop these energy waves from crashing into one another before the start of Astropalooza, a celebration of the Universe itself. The stakes are as high as they can possibly be, yet the characters all still get their own intimate, personal arc, once again juxtaposing the big with the small. And then there’s the whole ‘saving the Universe’ thing going on!

SPS: What do you think a reader will take away from reading the whole trilogy?

RC: My hope is that readers say, “Wow, that was loads of fun! That was crazy!” But also as they stop and think about it, they realize that the narrative actually ruminates on the nature of the Universe, asking the big questions, and maybe challenging you a bit to think about what’s really most important to you. It’s a theme that runs through all of my books. I read a lot about philosophy, mythology, and world history in my personal time, and those ideas filter into my writing.

SPS: Was it hard letting go of the characters, or have you left any scope to ever revisit the characters or ‘universe’ again in the future?

RC: I’m still so deep into the marketing phase that I really haven’t let go! Plus … I’m working on a spin-off series, based on the Angela Hardwick private eye character I introduce briefly in Genius de Milo and who has a larger role in Astropalooza. Now she’s getting the ‘star’ treatment!  Her stories will mostly include new characters, but the ‘world’ I’ve created is very much a part of the Finders Keepers universe. It’s loads of fun. My hope is to write several Hardwicke books, all in that classic Same Spade style, only … with my usual scifi slant to it. In fact, Hardwicke will be appearing in a short story I just wrote for an upcoming anthology I’m editing – Love, Murder, & Mayhem – which will be out through Crazy 8 Press in July.

SPS: Would you say Jason and Theo have grown, as the series comes to a head, or are they the same two guys we meet at the start of Finders Keepers (Book One)?

RC: Ha! They both go through incredible journeys. I can tell you that their relationships with each other, everyone they know, and even themselves, looks in some ways like it always did, but other ways does not even resemble their lives from how they started.

SPS: How easy do you find it to write the comedy aspects of your work?

RC: My writing style is naturally to lean towards humor, although I find there’s a big distinction between ‘fun’ and ‘funny’. Fun leads to a smile on your face, while funny has you laughing out loud. They are part of the same family, but not the same, although they often go hand in hand.

SPS: If you could give one reason for someone to pick up the trilogy and read, what would it be?

RC: You’ll have a wild time you’ll never forget!

SPS: Thank you for joining us today, and all the best for the future.

RC: Thanks! Had a great time.

SPS: For more information on Russ and the trilogy, please do visit www.russcolchamiro.com, follow him on Twitter @AuthorDudeRuss, and ‘like’ his Facebook author page www.facebook.com/RussColchamiroAuthor. His books are also available for sale through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

​And enjoy the FINDERS KEEPERS book trailer: http://bit.ly/16SNh8Q

Russ’s Top 10 of 2016 – Books, Movies, TV, & Music

Howdy folks! It’s been a few years since I’ve done my annual top 10 lists, but that’s the life of a busy author with two kids!

Anyway, 2016 was another crazy year for me, but I did manage to squeeze in a few moments for myself. Rather than break them out per category like I normally do, for this round I’m doing one combined list that includes my top 10 favorite books, movies, TV shows, and music … that I experienced in 2016.

That doesn’t mean each item on the list was necessarily new unto itself in 2016, but that it was new to me, which means there’s a bunch of catching up I did this year that made my list.

So … with all that in mind … here we go …

10. Sherlock Seasons 1-3 – I was a little late to the game here, but Sherlock on BBC has been great fun. The capers get a little convoluted at times, but the pacing is great, and Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock himself and Martin Freeman as his best pal and partner-in-(solving)-crimes Dr. John Watson are a joy to watch. If they keep making ’em, I’ll keep watching ’em. Great fun.

 9. Woody Harrelson and Mathew McConaughey in True Detective – Again, I was a little late to the game, but I finally caught up with True Detective season 1. The episodes were a mix of slow burn and tense thriller, and I had no idea how much this season was a kindred spirit with Silence of the Lambs. But Woody Harrelson and Mathew McConaughey both delivered multi-layered, powerhouse performances that will stand the test of time.

 8. Deadpool – Marvel has a strong track record when it comes to its superhero movies, mostly sticking to a friendly formula that really works. Well … toss that formula out with Deadpool! It’s nasty, raunchy, bloody, irreverent, and laugh-out-loud funny, letting Ryan Reynolds be, well, Ryan Reynolds, in a showcase perfectly suited for his style. Deadpool isn’t for everyone, especially if you’re easily offended, but if you can handle rough and raunchy, this is a superhero movie for you.

 7. Star Wars Trilogy movies, ninja style — I’ve seen the original trilogy more times than I can count, but I had the chance to watch them all again — as well as The Force Awakens — with my little ninjas. There’s nothing quite like the experience of seeing 6-year-olds take in Star Wars movies for the first time. I was watching them all over again … in a whole new way. A SciFi dad’s dream. Next year we’ll tackle the prequels.

 6. Ready Player One came out back in 2012, but it wasn’t until last year that I finally had the chance to dive in. This was a pure page turner for me, knocking the entire book out in a week. I hardly ever do that. It had a few bumps mixed in, but otherwise it was a nerd’s dream, especially if you grew up in the 80s like I did, with endless references to video games, music, TV, and movies taken right out of my youth, including obscure references you could only know if you were there at the time. Spielberg is doing the movie. I hope they nail this one.

 5. Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden – I’ve been going to Billy Joel concerts for more than 30 years, which seems hard to believe. I saw him earlier in 2016, and he was off his game. But he came back in November for a great show, with a few surprises, like a rendition of The Eagles’ Take it Easy and later broke into some Led Zeppelin. But it was the final killer 6-song encore, which included We Didn’t Start the Fire, Uptown Girl, You May Be Right, Big Shot, Still Rock n’ Roll to Me, and Only the Good Die Young, which brought the house down. Again. He’s still got it.

 4. Mahershala Ali in Luke Cage Season 1 – As a season, Luke Cage was a mixed bag for me, with a compelling first half and an up and down second half. But Mahershala Ali as the smoldering, driven, yet tortured villain Cottonmouth stole every scene he was in. A tremendous actor who first popped up on my radar in House of Cards took things to a whole different level in Luke Cage. An unforgettable performance. He’s one to watch.
 3. Game of Thrones Season 6 – No TV show gripped me this year as much as this whopper. The epic is saga is coming to a close, and season 6 raised the stakes yet again, finally bringing years of build-up to some intense confrontations. And they have dragons. Hodor!
 2. Star Wars: Rogue One – The newest entry in the Star Wars Universe completely rocked my world. Filled from front to back with gritty, grounded, intensity, and a thrilling sense of urgency, Rogue One is probably my favorite in the series after The Empire Strikes Back. Sure, there were a few bumpy elements, but in total it was a riveting experience for any Star Wars nerd who wanted some closure leading up to A New Hope and yet get something utterly new and different with characters we hadn’t seen before and yet still immediately understood what they were up against, maybe even better than they did. I loved it.
 1. Pearl Jam at Madison Square Garden – I’ve been a Pearl Jam fan since their very first album came out almost 25 years ago, yet I’d never had the chance to see them live. Even in their early 50s, these guys still know how to rock with the best of them. Great songs, great show, with Jeremy probably my favorite tune of the night. It was also a birthday gift from a friend of mine, so that made the concert that much more fun. I’d go back for more in a heartbeat. Pearl Jam’s induction into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame is well deserved.
Honorable mentions: Supergirl Seasons 1-2, Dark Matter Seasons 1-2, Leverage Seasons 1-3​, Love Season 1, Master of None Season 1

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.

 

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