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

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.

 

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

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!

 

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