Author Interview: Michael Prelee

Author Michael Prelee is a graduate of Youngstown State University and resides in Northeast Ohio with his family. Please welcome him to No Wasted Ink.

Author Micheal PreleeHello, my name is Michael Prelee and I write in two genres, science fiction and crime fiction. My first novel was the scifi crime story, Milky Way Repo, published in 2015 by EDGE Science Fiction & Fantasy. I followed it up with the second book in the series, Bad Rock Beat Down in 2017. Also in 2017, my first contemporary crime novel, Murder in the Heart of It All, was published by Northstar Press. I live in Northeast Ohio with my family and that setting has influenced my work a great deal. The area I live in has a history of organized crime and corrupt government, both of which are seen as themes in my work.

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve been interested in writing as far back as I can remember. I remember reading Encyclopedia Brown mysteries and the Mad Scientist Club books in elementary school. In junior high I discovered Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov and the true crime genre. Our school library had copies of the Bloodletters and Bad Men books and I read all of them in 6th or 7th grade. I like to think we had a really cool librarian. As I got older, I realized I had my own stories to tell and discovered that if I just stopped depending on regular sleep I could find the time to pursue writing.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I thought I accomplished something when I got the first letter of interest from EDGE Science Fiction & Fantasy for Milky Way Repo. They were the first people, aside from my beautiful wife, to say they enjoyed my story about starship repo men and thought we could turn it into a successful book. Up to that point, I had been collecting rejection letters like baseball cards, but you know, even those have value. You can’t get a rejection letter until you’ve completed your work and have a finished manuscript to be evaluated. You’re successful once you accomplish the goal of finishing your story. Anyone who has ever done it knows the feeling of joy you get when you complete it and think you can’t make it any better.

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

My latest work is Murder in the Heart of It All. It’s a crime story set in the small town of Hogan, Ohio. The residents there are plagued by personalized, anonymous letters revealing dark secrets better left hidden. Tim Abernathy is a young reporter tasked with investigating who is sending them. As Tim closes in, the letter writer becomes desperate to protect his identity and murder ensues.

This book explores themes that impact so much of the country. Tim is a Millenial having trouble finding a job in his field, someone in the story is struggling with opioid addiction, others are older and have to deal with the hardships that follow plant closings and underfunded pensions. The story is an examination of the problems currently facing people in the Midwest, Appalachia and other parts of the country.

What inspired you to write this book?

I’d like to have a really deep and thoughtful answer to this question, but I’m going to be honest instead. I’m a true crime junkie and I really enjoyed the Unsolved Mysteries series. There was nothing scarier than Robert Stack telling you something terrible had happened and no one had been caught. One of the crimes profiled was that of the Circleville Letter Writer. In the 1970s and 1980s, this person sent crude, hand-written notes to people in Circleville, OH threatening to expose their secrets. No one was ever identified or convicted for sending those letters. This story percolated in my mind for a few years and then all the pieces began falling into place. I was able to take the area I live in for a setting and use this crime as a framework to build my story.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I enjoy writing in third person omniscient style. It allows me to present various points of view, including the antagonists. Elmore Leonard once said “the bad guys are the fun guys”, and he was right. Villains are fun to write and I need to write in a style that allows me to express the viewpoint of all the characters in the story who have something to say.

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

See, no one ever asks that so I’m glad you did. A while back the State of Ohio’s motto was “The Heart of it All”, so I swiped it and incorporated into the title.

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

I think so and it would be “Life is tough”. When you’re young, sometimes you think older people have it easier because they’ve beat down the problems you have. You think people in their fifties have their career established and they’re better off financially because they had time to earn and save. What you don’t know, and probably won’t understand until you get near retirement age, is how quickly all that security can be stolen from you because someone in management makes a decision that eliminates your job. Everything you’ve worked for your whole life can be yanked from under your feet and it has nothing to do with how hard you worked or how well you did your job. The economy is always good when you have a job and it’s terrible when you don’t, no matter how old you are. Our area is struggling through this again because General Motors just closed the GM Lordstown plant.

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

The setting in my book is an amalgamation of all the small towns I live in growing up in Ohio and Pennsylvania. My family is very blue collar and they shaped my view of the world growing up, so it’s their fears, anger, and victories I’m sharing with these characters.

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

Now this is a great question! Stephen King was the first writer who made me realize how important characters were to a story. It didn’t matter if it was a young girl starting fires with her mind, a young teacher who could glimpse the future at a touch, or a band of survivors walking across flu ravaged America, I wanted to know what happened to them next. That’s what kept me reading. Will Charlie McGhee make it? What will Johnny Smith do with this flash he’s seen? Will Fran and Stu make it to Las Vegas? I just couldn’t stop turning the page. I also love Elmore Leonard for the way he writes dialogue and the way he plots stories. There are times I read his novels and get so lost in the way the characters speak that the plot kind of sneaks up on me. I think I like their writing because they enjoyed putting words on paper. That mad joy of expressing themselves comes across in their writing

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

The covers for my books are made by the publishers, and they do a fantastic job. EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy has terrific people doing the covers for the Milky Way Repo series and North Star Press has similarly talented people putting forth a fantastic effort. I love the way that typewriter looks on the cover of Murder in the Heart of It All.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

My only advice is that there are no shortcuts. Writers sit down and put words on the page. You can be an expert in literature, understand how to break a story, and daydream fantastic ideas, but until you put in the hours actually writing you haven’t accomplished anything. Next, read as many books by as many writers in as many genres as you can. You can’t write well if you don’t read. Finally, seek out sources on writing to see how others have done it. They’re willing to teach, so be willing to learn. I recommend the following:

* Elmore Leonard’s Ten Rules of Writing
* On Writing by Stephen King
* Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody

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

First, I’m still at the stage of my career where I get to meet many readers face to face as I try to sell them books at ComiCons, book fairs, and farmer’s markets, so let me just say, “Thank you!”. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for speaking with me, listening to my pitch, and buying my books. You can’t imagine the thrill of someone buying something you created. It means everything to go into a book store and see there are fewer copies on the shelves because someone took a chance on me. It feels great.

Second, please leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads. Reviews are everything to writers. They help us with exposure, marketing, and selling more books. It doesn’t have to be anything long, just a simple rating or a few words saying you enjoyed the work. Honestly, a review is the best thing you can give an author.

mwrMichael Prelee
Near Youngstown, Ohio

FACEBOOK
TWITTER
GOODREADS

Milky Way Repo

Publisher: EDGE Science Fiction & Fantasy

AMAZON

No Wasted Ink Writers Links

Welcome back to another top ten writing craft links by No Wasted Ink.  I have a nice grab bag of general craft links for you, plus a few science fiction related links.  Enjoy!

The Lure of the Writing Template: Why Filling in the Blanks Doesn’t Work

Fiction Addiction: How Great Storytellers Put the “Meth” into “Method”

Foodbuilding as Worldbuilding — Creating Fantasy Cuisines

How To Survive A Conference Even If You’re An Introvert

Writing the Ending: Tying Up All the Loose Ends

Be Careful, or You’ll End Up in My Novel

Sifting through Mythology: Finding the Grains of Your Story

5 Ways to Ensure Readers Don’t Abandon Your Book

The History of Women in Sci-Fi Isn’t What You Think

Heinlein’s Juveniles vs. Andre Norton’s Young Adult Novels

No Wasted Ink Writers Links

Happy Monday everyone.  I hope you enjoy this week’s writer link offerings, several of which are writer’s life related in addition to general writing tips.

Writing In Medias Res

Six Stories That Focus Too Much on Side Characters

Fantasy Unlocked: How to Get Teens Started with Writing Fantasy

Goal-Oriented Storytelling: Tension

Writing Tips: 5 Ways to Avoid Plot Holes In Your Novel

How to Prep for Outdoor Book and Author Events

How to Make Tough Feedback Work for You

Writing Characters with Personality

Using Story Tropes to Subvert Reader Expectations

Rogue Characters: The Secret to Compelling Fiction

Author Interview: JG Gatewood

Author JG Gatewood is a prolific YA author that loves to write about vampires.  I hope you will give him a warm welcome here on No Wasted Ink.

Author Jason GatewoodHello. My name is Jason Gatewood. I spent my early years in Iowa before my family decided to move to Colorado when I was 13. I’m never leaving (if I have my way). I love everything about this state. The outdoors. The mountains. The professional sports teams. It’s just a great place to live and raise a family. I’ve been married for 17 years and have two sons, Branden (13) and Evan (8). Fortunately, my wife feels the same way about Colorado. We also have a 100 lb Alaskan Malamute. I am currently working on my MA in Professional Fiction Writing from the University of Denver.

When and why did you begin writing?

I feel like I always enjoyed writing, from grade school all the way through high school. But I never really did anything or tried to complete a whole story until 9 years ago when I was laid off. While looking for a new job, I took my time and wrote my first book. I made a lot of mistakes, but have learned so much along the way.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

When I received the first proof copy of my first book. It didn’t feel real until I held it in my hands.

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

My most recent novel is an Adult Urban Fantasy book called The Vampire’s Curse: Life Eternal. It is the first book in a trilogy about a young man who is fighting a losing battle with brain cancer. He is visited on his deathbed by a vampire who offers him eternal life in exchange for a year of service. Out of options, he agrees. But he despises what he’s become. His family and friends think he’s dead and he’s lonely. He refuses to serve his year and now he’s on the run. Most of my stories are suitable for pretty much any age above 12, but this one is not. It is definitely adult in nature.

What inspired you to write this book?

One fall weekend in 2016, my wife and I decided to watch all the Twilight Movies back to back. There’s nothing wrong with them, I even read the books, but I got into a conversation with my wife about how PG the books were. When I think of vampires, I don’t typically think PG. I told her that night I wanted to write a vampire book that was the opposite of Twilight, and where I experimented with the ideas of what we know about vampires. A month or two later was NaNoWriMo and I went through with the idea. I’m really happy with it. It gave me the opportunity to unleash myself. I’m usually a pretty reserved person, so being able to say all the things I normally wouldn’t say, was quite a cathartic experience.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I don’t know that I have a specific style. It depends on what I’m writing. For instance, The Vampire’s Curse was a completely different style and tone from what I normally write. My YA fantasy book is from the perspective of a teenage girl, so I tried to channel as much of that as I could. I have to get into my characters and I let them dictate the style.

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

I had the idea for the title before I ever started writing. He’s a vampire who hates being a vampire. It made sense to me and I ran with it. Usually, I go through a few different titles before I settle on one.

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

In this story, there wasn’t a deeper meaning. I had fun with it, and as I mentioned before, It gave me the opportunity to say things I wouldn’t normally say. I wrote it more as an entertainment piece (including humor) and that was all there is to it. This isn’t always the case. My YA book deals with issues of racism and differing religions.

What authors have most influenced your life?

What about them do you find inspiring? There are so many. Stephen King is probably my favorite author and the one whom I inspire to be the most. However, I write primarily fantasy, so, from that standpoint, I would say, Tolkien, George R.R. Martin, Robert Jordan, and Branden Sanderson. Their world building and plot design are so amazing and I only hope to be as masterful as them someday.

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

Outside of the above-listed authors, I haven’t been taken under any wings, but I am a member of a critique group through RMFW that contains members with varying backgrounds and accolades. Thes people have helped my writing so much. They truly are my brothers and sisters.

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

I usually design my own covers. For this book, my publisher took with what I created and went in a similar direction. But ultimately, they decided on the cover.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

This isn’t something that happens overnight. Sit back and relax and enjoy what you are doing. Writing is a craft that takes time to develop. Write often and keep writing. When you aren’t writing, read. Read anything you can get your hands on. I mentioned I am currently working on my Masters. I have read many stories and novels I never would have picked up before that I absolutely loved and learned a lot from. My last bit of advice, find a critique group or writing community. I was nervous at first, but it was probably one of the best things I ever did.

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

The biggest thing I have to say is, Thank You!. I enjoy writing. It keeps me calm at the end of a bad day and makes me smile when I am feeling down. But none of it would be worth it if I wasn’t sharing it with people. So again I say, thank you.

cover_vampires_curseJ.G. Gatewood
Parker, CO

FACEBOOK
TWITTER

The Vampire’s Curse: Life Eternal

Publisher: Isabella Media

AMAZON
BARNES & NOBLE

No Wasted Ink Writers Links

Welcome back to another Monday of writing links here on No Wasted Ink.  There is plenty here to entertain or inform you about the craft of writing. I hope you enjoy this week’s selection. I apologize for not having a links post last week, but I was away at a science fiction convention for a week and between the trip and prepping for the event, I missed a few posts here on No Wasted Ink. I’m doing my best to get back on track for you.

Confessions of a Book Reviewer

Staying Positive After a Rejection

Lessons From the Writing of The Name of the Wind

Your Bones Are Showing: Too Little Story, Too Many Problems

5 Writing “Life Lessons” from an Empty Nester Author

How to Get Started with a WordPress Author Website

Revising Your Manuscript in Scrivener

Mind Mapping: A Pantser’s Path to Planning

Using Side Characters to Support a Story

Is Blogging Dead or Alive in 2019?

Author Interviews * Book Reviews * Essays * Writer's Links * Scifaiku

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