Author Interview: Bill McCormack

I asked Author Bill McCormack (aka Bill McScifi) how he would describe himself as a writer.  He said, “I tend to write dark stuff for adult audiences. It’s not something I do consciously, it just seems that somehow, somewhere, someone needs to be skinned alive with a titanium cheese slicer.”  Please welcome him here to No Wasted Ink.

Author Bill McCormickHi there, my name’s Bill McCormick and I’m a science fiction writer who lives in South Chicago with my fiancée. Before writing science fiction, I did occasional articles for music magazines and sports blogs. Overlapping that I worked as a touring musician and eased into management when it became clear I was going to live my life in bars if I kept playing bass in public. I went on to work with James Brown and many others.

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve always written for fun and intermittent profit. But, in 2010, I’d lost my job, my wife, and most of my reasons to live. I decided to dust off some ideas I’d had and immerse myself in fantasy worlds for a while. It was a rude, but semi-effective, form of therapy. Oddly, some early beta readers of the stories I was writing said nice things behind my back and I started putting more effort into it. I was able to get a job with a consulting company that gave me some freedom, so I used my free time to write. I cranked out multiple short stories, and garnered multiple rejection letters, until 2011 when I sold And the Beat Goes Phut to Bewildering Stories. That’s when I circled back to a story I’d tried to write a couple decades earlier. I trimmed it, dramatically, and began work on what I hoped would be a novella. It ended up being a trilogy. Oh well.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I’ve always used the term to describe my life goals, but I started using it as a personal descriptor in 2017. By then I’d left my job and concentrated exclusively on writing. I had two comic book series, several one-offs coming, and The Brittle Riders was out and doing well. Being that I was fifty-six at the time, it was a risk. But, so far, so good.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

SPLICE: HIT BIT TECHNOLOGY is both an interesting and cautionary tale. It starts with a ten-year-old, African American, boy being tossed out of a car in Omaha, Nebraska. He has a crisp fifty dollar bill his father gave him, before tossing him out, and not much else. It is very much a road story as he travels first into Omaha proper, and then across the U.S., until he ends up in the Marines while trying to do a favor for the New York mob. The name comes from a fictionalization of Elon Musk’s theories about enhancing humans with cybernetic implants.

What inspired you to write this book?

Funny story. A gentleman named Tye Feimster, owner of ©Watchdog Entertainment®, had a series of comics he asked me to review. As I did, I noticed one character in the background of all of them and I wanted to know him more. So, I wrote a ten-page sample of what I wanted to do with the character and submitted it. He liked it, but … you knew there was a but, he wasn’t sure he wanted to do a comic. My writing seemed more cinematic. One thing led to another and I signed a deal to write a movie. When I finished the movie I tried, again, to sell the comic as an ancillary and complementary intellectual property. I said I wanted to add some elements that weren’t in the film to give it depth. Tye thought that was a great idea but asked me to write a novel instead. Azoth Khem had the whole thing under contract before I’d finished chapter one. So, short answer, I tried to make a few bucks selling a comic and it all blew up.

Do you have a specific writing style?

Well, as author Steve Silver has noted, “McCormick says more in twelve words than others do in twelve paragraphs.” While that may be a tad hyperbolic, I do tend to be terse. Nancy Chandler, the owner of Azoth Khem, joked that The Brittle Riders was three hundred thousand words of gut punching sentences. SPLICE, however, is even more terse. It clocks in just under one hundred thousand words and I broke them out into eighty chapters to keep the story moving at breakneck speed.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

Well, SPLICE was the character’s name in the comic books and Tye wanted to add Hit Bit Technology as it’s the link in all of his comics.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Verily I say unto you, in as much as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. (Matthew 25:40). This kid goes through hell. Being an abandoned black kid in a primarily white city, already made somewhat paranoid by his parents, he never really catches a break. He learns early to be as invisible as possible. There are no heroes in this book. Splice grows up to be a super villain with an inexplicable support group.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Some of the experiences he goes through are based on stories I have heard from friends. The early strangers in the book are based on lonely old people who would talk to me on planes as I was shuttling between families. They tend to offer information no one cares about. Like how Herbie likes tacos with American cheese.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

The holy trilogy, Heinlein, Asimov, and Clark, of course, but Walter M. Miller, A. E. Van Vogt, Clifford D. Simak, and Octavia Butler really punched my buttons. They wrote some brain bending stuff and my brain bent happily.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

David Brin. Mostly because he has answered questions for me and given pointed advice. Also, he’s proud of his growth from his early work, and isn’t ashamed of how much better his stuff is now.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

Tye and I knocked it out in an afternoon. We both have experience in graphics and knew what we wanted.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Don’t be afraid to suck. You’re going to no matter what so just do it and move on. I once wrote “The yielding shall never commence” and thought it was good. It wasn’t, isn’t, and I learned.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Well, this group is your readers, but I hope some of them will become mine.

Splice Book CoverBill McCormick
Chicago, IL

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SPLICE: HIT BIT TECHNOLOGY

Publisher: Azoth Khem Publishing

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