Friday, July 7, 2017

The Fast Friday Interviews: Michael W. Layne

Michael W. Layne.

Tell me about yourself, Michael.

Here's the untold truth of who I am. I was born an Army brat in what was then West Germany, in a small town in the middle of the country. My first word was Ònein which is german for Òno which ended up setting the tone for the rest of my life. As an only child who moved around a lot, even at a very young age I had to entertain myself a lot, which included a lot of reading and being inventive with whatever I had on hand. From an early age, I was writing down bits of stories and creating drawings that went along with them and doing any number of creative things like illustrating my own story about how the Devil was the one who got a raw deal from God. My teacher gave me an ÒAÓ and suggested I read Dante's Inferno when I had the chance.

As I got a little older, my parents moved to VA and settled in Newport News, and that is where I first met my Uncle Pete. He used to bring over a brown paper bag filled with Thor comics and over-sized magazines like Eerie, Vampirella, and Creepy. He gave me my first Conan, John Carter of Mars, and Tarzan novels. Wow! The stories about dark sorcerers, loincloth-wearing heroes, and scantily clad warrior women combined with the amazing Frazetta and Boris covers that adorned many of the novels, left me hooked on speculative fiction forever.

Then I got older and discovered women and friends, and I took a break from fiction writing. Instead I thought I wanted to be a news reporter. That changed, of course, once I realized how intrusive reporters were with people who were upset or going through times of strife. Once I arrived at college, I began dabbling in writing again, and eventually ended up finishing a novel in my early 30s by using a whiteboard and actual index cards to outline my book.

That was a success for me in the sense that I realized I could indeed complete an entire novel. But it wasn't until technology caught up with the way my brain functions (or dis-functions) that I hit my stride. By April of 2013, I decided to write and publish novels seriously, so I took the one book I'd already completed, gave it a fresh edit, did my own cover, which is thankfully NOT the one currently in use, and I published ÒThe Conservation of MagicÓ on Amazon and Smashwords. Since then, I've written every day, seven days a week, except for about a dozen or so days when I was away on vacation.

And here I sit with my rescue mutt, Rocky, by my side, living in the house that divorce built, adding to my file of ideas daily, and working on my latest novel, ÒA Song of DeathÓ (cheery, right?). By day, I write and communicate for a not-for-profit systems engineering corporation, and by night, I write my novels, usually giving up around 2am, when my brain starts splicing in pieces of my real-life day with the fictional sentences I'm trying to craft.

To date, I've published eleven offerings, all of which are available (at least) through Amazon KDP, with six of those being full-length novels and the others being of novella or short-story length. I also have 37 fleshed-out or outlined novels and series waiting patiently in line for me to type them into existence. I keep telling them that I'll get to each of their stories in turn, but they're beginning to suspect I may be lying. I'm working hard every day to prove them wrong.

Tell me about your current book. 

When a dying rock star is tricked by a demon and imprisoned in the suburbs of Ashburn, he must figure out a way to destroy his demonic captor or else be doomed to live forever in suburban hell.

When dying rockstar David Steele makes a deal with a demon named Ahriman to cheat death, he's the one who ends up getting screwed, because, well that's what demons do. David wakes up in the DC suburbs of Ashburn, VA, healed and healthy, but no longer in his own body. Instead, he finds himself in the body of John Starling, a nerdy but badass demon enforcer who keeps order among Ashburn's supernatural community of forgotten gods, minor demons, and fallen angels, all of whom have been tricked by Ahriman and sentenced to an eternity in Ashburn for some unknown sinister reason.

David can't figure out how to leave the cursed suburban community, so he decides to write some new songs while trying to settle into his new life. But that's easier said than done with a succubus for a girlfriend, a hell-hound for a pet, and a host of darkly humorous characters, like Oizys, the minor demon who feeds off of human suffering and who's found her eternal calling as the president of the local Home Owners Association.

David still gives it a shot, but before he can strike a single chord, he's faced with a series of murdered humans and a rumor that one of the supernaturals under his charge is planning an escape. David has to stop the murders and make sure no one escapes, and even though he would much rather leave Ashburn than do his new job, he knows he has to figure out how to destroy Ahriman first or be doomed to live as a suburbanite forever.

What are you working on now? 

I'm currently working on the first book in a new (sub)urban fantasy series about a dying rockstar who gets trapped in the Ashburn suburbs and has to figure out how to escape while also keeping order among the local supernatural community. I love this series already, because it allows me to lampoon the Ôburbs while telling some interesting tales laced with equal parts fantasy, horror, and humor. I expect this first book to be out by the end of summer.

What is your favorite place to be when you write?

I write all of my books while sitting on my couch with my laptop on my lap.

What is your favorite lesson learned about the business of writing?

I've learned a lot over the last several years, but the most important thing I've learned is that no amount of marketing or superior writing style can replace a good story that people can't wait to read. I've known writers who were huge successes, not because they were particularly good writers, but because they were excellent story tellers and they were publishing tales that people really wanted to read.

What are your favorite websites at the moment? I use it to pretend I will one day find a relationship that works, which is pretty much in keeping with why I write fantasy in the first place, I suppose.


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