The Russ Colchamiro Astropalooza 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