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

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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