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?

SciFi Rock n’ Roller Coaster Q&A – Guest Author: Roy Mauritsen

Roy Mauritsen is the author of Shards of the Glass Slipper, an epic fantasy fairy tale adventure in 2 novels, Book I: Queen Cinder & Book II: Queen Alice

RoyM_author_RGB

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

Roy Mauritsen: I’ve done a lot of exciting stuff…. been SCUBA diving with 30 reef sharks, horseback riding across the Scottish highlands, white water rafting in Costa Rica, African Safari, and I’ll do more to be sure… BUT I am not drawn to sky diving… but who knows, one day I might have an opportunity and I’ll probably give it a shot!

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?

Roy: The best memories are made with life-long friends and some really good BBQ in the back yard. Having the time to gather all in one place like that would be magical. And maybe Steven Spielberg…

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

shards-audiobook-coverRoy: Genius De Milo by some guy named Russ.., The IX by Andrew Weston, and Patrick ThomasMurphy’s Lore … I’ve actually never read it and I’ve known Patrick for years! Ha-ha! I have no time to read.

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

Roy: Alice in Wonderland. I read it as a child and now some 40 years later I based one of my novels off of it.

SFRRC: Star Wars or Star Trek? Why?

Roy: Star Wars always appealed to my sense of adventure.. Star Trek I like too, but seems a little bit more structured and science-y. Plus lightsabers.

SFRRC: Favorite character from any SciFi movie?

Roy: Buckaroo Bonzai jumps to mind. But I’m sure there are others!

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?

Roy: I really enjoyed the reboot of Battlestar Galactica.

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?shardsbook1_cover

Roy: I listen to a wide range, but generally it’s mostly progressive and World I’d say… But top of the list is YES. Their music has always resonated with me on a much greater level than any other.

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?

Roy: Teleportation: global range. So I can travel more efficiently on a week-long vacation!

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?

beanstalk-display_finalRoy: Definitely I’d go! Because as much as it a chance to lose a part of your life it’s also a chance to encounter a new life. Change it up! These days most people are tethered to their old lives, restrained from developing a new life for themselves.

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

Roy: As someone who set out to do things and accomplish some if not all, rather a person that merely talked about doing great things as they sat on the sidelines watching life go by.

SFRRC: OK. We’ve tortured you enough. You’re a writer. What are you working on now? Promote away!

Roy: As a writer AND an art director for two small press publishers I’m quite busy. These days I have my artist cap on and I’ve been doing a flurry of book covers for Perseid Press.

On the writing front I’m scratching out story ideas I’m a huge planner and not the most prolific of writers so there’s lots of planning before I even start to crack the next story.

The other hat I have on is Audiobook producer. My first novel Shards of the Glass Slipper Queen Cinder has been turned into audiobook (available on audible). I worked directly with the narrator, and myself spent weeks mixing in music and sound effects to make it a more immersive listening experience. At over 16 hours long that was quite a task.shardsbookII-cover

I did it again for a short story entitled “Syrenka” which a prequel story to my first book. And I will be doing it again as we’ll be recording book II. That audiobook should be out next spring!

Thank you very much for reading!

Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1w0-1QojUo

Book I: Queen Alice

Book trailer:

Audiobook ( Book I) 
audiobook promotional trailer:

http://www.shardsoftheglassslipper.com

SciFi Rock n’ Roller Coaster Q&A – Guest Author: Danielle Ackley-McPhail

Award-winning author Danielle Ackley-McPhail has worked both sides of the publishing industry for longer than she cares to admit. Currently, she is a project editor and promotions manager for Dark Quest Books and has recently started her own press, eSpec Books (www.especbooks.com). dmcphailhighresHer published works include five urban fantasy novels, Yesterday’s Dreams, Tomorrow’s Memories, Today’s Promise, The Halfling’s Court: and The Redcaps’ Queen: A Bad-Ass Faerie Tale, and a young adult Steampunk novel, Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn, written with Day Al-Mohamed.

She is also the author of the solo collections A Legacy of Stars, Consigned to the Sea, Flash in the Can, and Transcendence, the non-fiction writers’ guide, The Literary Handyman, and is the senior editor of the Bad-Ass Faeries anthology series, Dragon’s Lure, and In an Iron Cage. Her short stories are included in numerous other anthologies and collections.

SciFi Rockin’ Roller Coaster: Hey Danielle! You strapped in? Let’s have some fun! Have you ever, or would you ever go sky diving? Details!Danielle Ackley-McPhail: I’ve always wanted to go up in a hot-air balloon, but I can honestly say I’ve never had a desire to jump out of a perfectly functional plane. Just saying. Hang-gliding might be interesting, though…only my hubby would have a coronary if I even suggested it.

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? BabaAliandtheClockworkDjinn_lg

DAM: Everything has no calories, right? Meat. The most succulent, best-prepared meat…lamb, steak, rabbit, duck, venison….I could die happy without anything else even being on the table, but for those who are big on sides, creamy crusty homemade mac and cheese, buttery homemade mashed potatoes, and fresh-picked corn on the cob. And I would invite everyone who was hungry.

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

DAM: Clockwork Crown by Beth Cato, Alma Alexander’s Shifter, and the newest Rachel Griffin book by L. Jagi Lamplighter.

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

DAM: <blushes> When I was thirteen I read The Outsiders by SE Hinton 21 times in a row.

SFRRC: Star Wars or Star Trek? Why?

DAM: Both, I love a great sci fi, and these are both lasting legacies with much to offer in both entertainment and message.

SFRRC: Favorite character from any SciFi movie?

DAM: Tech Sergeant Chen from Galaxy Quest. He had so many subtle layers.

TW3-COVER-REVAMPSFRRC: 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?

DAM: I’m a little hazy on time since I see most things after the fact on DVD. I would say Firefly, if it’s in the right time frame. If it’s not …. really hard to say since I don’t get much time to watch TV. Of course, if this counts, I would also say FaceOff, which is a reality show, but yeah, really high on my list.

SFRRC: We love Rock n’ Roll here at SFFR. 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?

DAM: I’m really big on Celtic music and other folksy type genres that come from the same roots. If I was able to follow someone around for a year, though, it would be SJ Tucker. Fabulous. Absolutely fabulous.

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?

DAM: The limitless power (for that one week) to heal everyone I meet of their most grievous hurt, be it physical, psychological, mental, emotional, etc.

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?

DAM: I would not. I like to believe there are people on this earth who would notice and care if I were to disappear and to do so willfully and put them through the heartache and grief of not knowing what happened…I could not do that to those I care about. And to be truthful, I already come up with some pretty fantastic stuff so I will be content with that.

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

DAM: To be remembered fondly, to be remembered as someone who touched others’ lives and enriched them in some manner, be it through my writing or as a friend, as a true follower of Christ and all that entails, with love, not judgement. Though, in truth, I’m sure the one thing I will be remembered for—at least by those who actually know me—is for my hugs. There are worse things in life.

SFRRC: OK. We’ve tortured you enough. You’re a writer. What are you working on now? Promote away!

DAM: As an editor I am working on The Side of Good / The Side of Evil, a superhero/villain flipbook anthology, which is now available for pre-order in multiple formats. As a publisher I’m working on The Weird Wild West, edited by Misty Massey, Emily Lavin Leverett, and Margaret S. McGraw, and as an author I am working on a story for the Were- anthology by Zombies Need Brains! and on Eternal Wanderings, a spin-off novella series related to my Eternal Cycle novels based on Irish myth.

To learn more about her work, visit www.sidhenadaire.com, www.especbooks.com or www.badassfaeries.com.

Twitter: @DMcPhail

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/#!/danielle.ackleymcphail

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Danielle-Ackley-McPhail/e/B002GZVZPQ/

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/989939.Danielle_Ackley_McPhail

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