WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Russ Colchamiro, Author – CROSSLINE

Thanks to author Joyce Strand, who graciously requested this interview about my life as an author, and in particular about my novel CROSSLINE. This Q&A was conducted via email.

http://strandssimplytips.blogspot.com/

Thursday, May 18, 2017

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Russ Colchamiro, Author


Colchamiro has also written the Finders Keepers sci-fi comedy series, including,FINDERS KEEPERS, GENIUS DE MILO, and ASTROPALOOZA.
He is a contributing editor to a new science-fiction anthology, LOVE, MURDER AND MAYHEM, which he plans to release in July. He currently lives in New Jersey with his family, including his twin children (girl and boy.)Russ Colchamiro strives to write books that his readers “can’t wait to finish.” Readers of his science fiction novel, CROSSLINE, say the book isa good old fashioned yarn with just the right touch of action, humor and a few nice twists thrown in.” Colchamiro is drawn to science fiction because of the scope and breadth it gives to his imagination. He approaches his characters in depth to understand their motivations. Although he focuses on giving the reader a “fun ride”, he also offers thin layers of his own beliefs.

Q: What draws you to write science fiction?

Russ Colchamiro: Regardless of the genre, my goal is to write a great, compelling story that readers can’t wait to finish, so the fundamentals always need to be there—plot, characters, pacing, etc. Given that, science fiction allows me to dream as big as I want, or take the characters—and thus the readers—on a journey that wouldn’t be possible otherwise. Within these wild pulp adventures, I like to juxtapose the big, epic questions (What does it all mean? Is life itself random? Is there a grand design? Where do I fit in?) with the ‘smaller’ struggles of everyday life.

So even though the characters may be on some kind of intergalactic quest, or in a ‘foreign’ land (that happens to exist in another quadrant of time and space), the struggles they face are all too human. Love, guilt, fear, joy, passion, loyalty, family, sex, desire, and so on. And if they happen to be facing off against a galactic threat, all the better. When you sit down to read, I want the edges of each page to melt away.

Q: Reviewers say that in CROSSLINE your “Characters felt like people I knew from my own life.” When writing science fiction, how do your approach your characters? Are they bigger-than-life resembling super-heroes? Or are they, as reviewers suggest, “people I knew?”

Russ Colchamiro: My process is to climb inside the hearts and minds of every character I write, whether they are the protagonists, antagonists, or supporting players, and do my best to understand their motivations, so that I can deliver intimate character studies within the grand adventure. Whether ‘everyday people’ or more flamboyant personalities (my cast of players include lots of both) I want each one—male, female, young, old—to feel real and grounded within the confines of the narrative … quirks, contradictions, and all, even down to their speech patterns and cadence. Some characters are loosely based on people I know (or knew), others are amalgams, with the rest pure invention, reflecting various elements of my own personality.

Q: Reviewers also say CROSSLINE is a “Solid blending of science fiction and satire” and “Just the right touch of action, humor and a few nice twists thrown in. It never takes itself too seriously while still grabbing you by the shirt.” How useful was humor to tell your story?

Russ Colchamiro: Humor appears in all of my novels. It’s a natural element of my writing style. But there’s a distinction between sprinkling humor within the narrative, and writing an all-out comedy, which I have certainly done with the FINDERS KEEPERStrilogy. CROSSLINE has its humorous moments for sure, but it’s not a comedy, per se. It’s action/adventure/mystery, with my usual time-bending shenanigans and humor woven in.

Q: Did you write CROSSLINE primarily to entertain your readers or did you embed a few messages or themes along the way?

Russ Colchamiro: Both. I approach each book with a sense of fun, wonder, and adventure, with my hope that readers will come away feeling like they were taken on a wild, unforgettable ride. But underneath the surface of the pulpy SciFi tale I embed elements that are important to me and shape my own worldview—philosophy, history, mysticism, mythology, meditation, and transcendentalism. These elements are prevalent in my novels. But nothing too preachy. I want the readers to have a blast!

Q: How did you create credibility for readers as they explored parallel universes, time travel, and an altered Earth?

Russ Colchamiro: As long as you explain the ‘rules’ of each of these worlds, and stay consistent within them, the credibility is there. I try to include enough details and world building so that readers can say, “ah, okay, I get where I am and how this all works. I’m good.” If that happens, the narrative and characters are free to go wherever the story takes them.

Q: Does the concept of “hero versus villain” apply to CROSSLINE? What makes a compelling villain?

Russ Colchamiro: My novels tend to be far less about ‘hero versus villain’ and more about the hero’s journey. In CROSSLINE, our ‘hero’ Marcus Powell is testing experimental warp thrusters, when (for reasons I won’t spoil here) he’s forced through a wormhole and into a parallel Earth, drawn into a battle he may actually have been destined for all along. He desperately wants to get back to his wife and young daughter, but the needs of the characters he meets on the ‘other Earth’ overtly conflict with his desire to get home.

Meanwhile, on our Earth, 90-year-old Harlan “Buddy” Rheams Jr.—the CEO of the private space corporation that launched Powell’s flight—may or may not have Powell’s best interests in mind.

There are some villainous characters in CROSSLINE for sure, and others more heroic, but I’m far more interested in characters that come to question their motivations, navigate the often confusing and ambiguous choices they face, then have to make decisions, and live with the consequences.

Q: How do you use your settings or worlds to propel the story?  Do they help to evolve your characters?

Russ Colchamiro: Both instinctively and by design I write each story like a mystery. Reveal, conceal, reveal again. Investigate, falter, discover, investigate again. The worlds in some cases are additional characters, with the journey to and from those worlds essential to the narrative.

The characters often find themselves unexpectedly thrust into new environments, having to discover and navigate them. Then—on their ‘heroes journey’ so richly described by Joseph Campbell in “The Hero with a Thousand Faces”—by hook or by crook figure out how, when, and why they really need or want to get back home, and if that’s even possible. And even if they do make it back, it’s unlikely they’ll be the same as when they left. That’s certainly the case with CROSSLINE.

Powell’s emersion in the ‘other Earth’ tests him in ways he never even considered. Most of the other characters also get their own arcs. Among others, Powell gets involved with a trigger happy rebel leader who reminds him of his wife, a pot-smoking shaman, a crafty pie-maker, and a weary solider who hates his guts. Some pass those tests. Some fail. Some do both.

Q: What’s next? Will we see more science fiction novels from you?

Russ Colchamiro: Yes! In July I’ll be launching LOVE, MURDER & MAYEHM, a science fiction-themed anthology from Crazy 8 Press, with 15 authors in total. I serve as the editor, and am contributing a story of my own. Each story contains at least one element of love or romance, at least one murder, and lots of mayhem, all in various, unrelated settings.

We have superhero and supervillain stories. We have artificial intelligence, off-world, and space cruiser stories. We also have dream surrogates, private eyes, an aliens vs. monsters showdown, and one DuckBob!

Some tales are wacky, some darker, and others pure fun. Mine is a private eye tale, with the PI—Angelica Hardwicke—written in that classic Sam Spade style, pinstripe suit, fedora, and all. I’m diving pretty deep into the mystery arena these days as both a reader and an author, so this collection was loads of fun to pull together.

Q: Tell us about Russ Colchamiro. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Russ Colchamiro: Ha. I’m a New York City transplant now living in northern New Jersey, married with twins—my ninjas, a boy and a girl, nearly seven. So between my family, my crazy dog Simon, my books, and my full-time day job as a real estate media specialist in NYC, it doesn’t leave room for much else! But I’m a lifelong baseball junkie, and gobble up fiction in whatever form I can, whenever I can. I’m actually watching The Flash on Netflix with my kids. They absolutely love it. Oh, yeah. Occasionally I sleep!

About Russ Colchamiro

Russ Colchamiro is the author of the rollicking space adventure, CROSSLINE, the hilarious sci-fi backpacking comedy series, FINDERS KEEPERS, GENIUS DE MILO, and ASTROPALOOZA, and is editor of the new anthology, Love, Murder & Mayhem, all with Crazy 8 Press.

Russ lives in New Jersey with his wife, two children, and crazy dog, Simon, who may in fact be an alien himself. Russ has also contributed to several other anthologies, including Tales of the Crimson Keep, Pangaea, and Altered States of the Union, and TV Gods 2. He is now at work on a top-secret project, and a Finders Keepers spin-off.

As a matter of full disclosure, readers should not be surprised if Russ spontaneously teleports in a blast of white light followed by screaming fluorescent color and the feeling of being sucked through a tornado. It’s just how he gets around — windier than the bus, for sure, but much quicker.

About CROSSLINE

In the spirit of Firefly, Flash Gordon, Stargate, and Escape from New York

Hotdog pilot Marcus Powell has been selected to test Taurus Enterprises’ Crossline prototype craft and its newly developed warp thrusters, which, if successful, will revolutionize space travel as we know it.

But during his jaunt across the stars, Powell is forced into a parallel universe — including a parallel Earth — where he finds himself at the center of an epic battle he may have been destined for all along.

Meanwhile, back home, reclusive oil tycoon and Taurus CEO Buddy Rheams Jr. — who sent Powell on that very mission — has a mysterious past and a secret agenda, one that could prevent Powell from ever making it back to his wife and little girl.

From author Russ Colchamiro, CROSSLINE is a psychedelic, action-packed romp across time, space, and dimension that asks the question: once you cross the line, can you ever really go back?

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

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Finders KeepersFinders Keepers
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