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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

He owns a moose-poodle. Meet Indie #author, Michael Manning. #Fantasy



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Conversations with authors and writers from the self-publishing world.


Meet Michael G. Manning
Genre: Fantasy; Science Fiction
Best Known for: The Mageborn Series
Amazon Author Page:  Click Here


Michael Manning, a retired pharmacist, has been a fantasy and science-fiction reader for most of his life. He has dabbled in software design, fantasy art, and is an avid tree climber. He lives in Texas, with his stubborn wife, two kids, and a menagerie of fantastic creatures, including a moose-poodle, a vicious yorkie, and a giant prehistoric turtle.


Connect with Michael on Facebook!


How long have you been writing and how did you get started?
Not long, actually. I wrote a few short stories for friends while I was in my early thirties, before that my experience largely consisted of nothing but college English papers during my school days.

Fast forward to 2011 and I found myself writing a novella for the sheer pleasure of it. I still haven’t published that book.

Mageborn #1
Cover links
to Amazon.com
Your Mageborn series is doing exceptionally well, were these your first books?
Yes. I’ve written one short novella but The Blacksmith’s Son was the first serious work I did.

Tell us a little bit about the series…
I ran out of reading material. I’ve been an avid reader since a young age and one day I found myself bored with nothing that really piqued my interest. I started making a list of things I wanted to see in a book and after a few minutes I realized that I had already read everything remotely similar.

So I decided to write it myself.

How does this series differ from other fantasy novels?
As some have mentioned, it’s a coming of age book, and it follows a pattern that many others have done before. I didn’t really think it was that different, but I’ve had many people argue the point with me.

The primary difference, in my mind, is that I used a modern form of English, but the setting is more of a traditional medieval type fantasy setting. I think that brought in a lot of readers that wouldn’t have read the books otherwise, but it also really upset some who were looking for more archaic dialogue and phrasings.

You have achieved what many indie fantasy authors dream of- how did your success come about?
Mageborn #2
Cover links
to Amazon.com
I’m not sure. In part, I probably got a good start because of my many friends. I’ve collected friends like treasures over the past forty years. I think most of them came through for me when they heard I had written a book.

Aside from that, I believe the key is catching the reader’s eye with the first chapter or two. If your first effort doesn’t claim the reader’s attention quickly and drag them along, page to page… you’re lost. After that, the story has to resonate with people. I didn’t write to create a literary masterpiece. I wrote something I wanted to read. Apparently, a lot of other people wanted to read something similar.

Do you have any special tips that you’d like to share with other authors, regarding writing, marketing or publishing?
If you’re putting out your first book don’t overcharge. Writing a book is a lot of work, and so many new authors want to put a fair price on their work. Readers on the other hand, are generally looking to read things written by people they already know and trust. If they’re going to try something new, it needs to be cheaply priced.

Let them judge your work. If they like it, they’ll pay more for your subsequent works.

Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers?
Thank you! Everyone says that, don’t they? The readers scared the hell out of me initially. In some ways they still do. Every time I sit down to write, I think to myself, “Is this something anyone else will want to read?” So far, I’ve kept their attention, but I always worry that I might lose it.

So again, thank you for sticking with me.

Mageborn #3
Cover links
to Amazon.com
Why did you choose to write in the fantasy genre?
I love fantasy and science fiction for the same reasons. In both cases the stories contain elements of the fantastic, though they have different rules and thresholds for believability. Of the two, fantasy provides the most freedom for expression. Almost anything is possible, provided you can come up with a consistent and credible framework for it. That allows the writer to explore the human condition in some very extreme environments and situations.

The drawback (which is true of all fiction, but particularly fantasy), is that because you are dealing with the fantastic, everything needs to remain internally consistent and logical. With non-fiction things don’t always make sense, they simply are. The story is about facts. With fantasy it is important that characters have believable motivations and display reasonable actions.

Because I include many events from my own life, some of my characters do unexpected things… things which may not be quite as logical as they should be for a fantasy story. I’ve tried to blend elements of my non-fictional life, into a fantasy setting. The reader will be the final judge regarding whether I did it well or not.

Do you also read? What sort of books?
I’ve read thousands of books. My pleasure reading has almost always consisted of fantasy and science fiction novels. It would take me a long time to list all my favorites. Robert Heinlein, Patrick Rothfuss, David Eddings… we really don’t have time here for a proper conversation on the topic.

Aside from, fiction, I enjoy physics and philosophy books.

How did you learn to write?
I’m not sure. I think I’ve just read so much that it happens like breathing for me. I’ve always had a very instinctive grasp of the language. My biggest problem is underuse of commas, which my new editor has repeatedly pointed out to me.

What are your thoughts on self-publishing vs. traditional publishing?
For a new writer, the biggest problem is getting people to read your work. The process is very different depending upon whether you try self-publishing or traditional publishing. In both cases, it is important that the writing is good, but in self-publishing the primary arbiter is the reader.

Self-publishing is much more democratic, but it is still just as hard to be seen and noticed. I think the nicest thing about it is that the author keeps a large percentage of the profits.

Mageborn #4
Cover links
to Amazon.com
Do you have any more books being released soon?
By the time this interview is posted my latest book, The God-Stone War, should be burning up the sales charts (I hope). I plan to finish the series within another year (book 5) and then move on to prequels.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself or your books?
The most wonderful part of this whole process was discovering how many people really connect with what I consider my inner dialogue. Since I wrote the books in first person the inner voice of the main character is frequently on center stage. For me, that meant putting myself into his shoes and then relating what my inner thoughts were.

Finding out that so many people felt a rapport with Mordecai’s thoughts and feelings has made me in turn, feel very connected to the readers.

What great thoughts! Thank You, Michael! 



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