Book Gadget v0.72

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Interview with Bestselling Thriller & Suspense Author Mike Wells

Translation:  Wild Child 3 is coming soon!
(Note:  This interview was conducted by Fiona Mcvie and posted on her blog, reposted by me with her permission)

Name: Mike Wells
Age: Let’s put it this way: When  I was a kid,  color TV was a big deal

Fiona:  Where are you from?
I call Nashville, Tennessee my hometown but did not actually move there until I was twelve, lived in Rochester, New York, Cleveland, Ohio and Wichita, Kansas before that.  My dad was in sales.  Now I split my time between Latvia, my wife’s home country, and Cyprus.

Fiona:  A little about your self and your education Family life etc.?

I was not a very good student, though I somehow managed to finish engineering school at Vanderbilt University and eventually got a Ph.D. in that field.  I became an entrepreneur and later, an “authorpreneur,” which is what I am now.

Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
My most recent release is a book I coauthored with bestselling romance author Devika Fernando.  It’s a romantic thriller series called Forbidden.  In a few weeks (early April) I will be releasing Book 3 of my Wild Chid sci-fi adventure series, the final book of the first trilogy.

Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I have been writing ever since I can remember, though did not seriously start with fiction until I was in my early twenties.  By “seriously” I mean trying to entertain readers (rather than just myself) and get my work published.

Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
If you mean a fiction writer, I did not consider myself a “real” writer until significant numbers of people started buying my books and giving them good reviews.  For me, this is the only way I would be comfortable giving myself that title, as least as a professional.

Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Inspiration is a difficult thing for me to pin down, even now.  I really don’t know where a lot of my ideas come from or what makes me feel a burning desire to create a full-blown novel out of one.  Probably it has to do with a subconscious need to live out the issues the characters struggle with in the story.  That’s what a psychologist would say, I think.  A big part of it, though, comes from an idea that I think is original and one that my readers would like.

Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
Yes, I think I do.  My style seems to be unusually cinematic and engaging–readers often tell me that they can clearly visualize everything that’s happening my books and that they have a vivid experience in being in the hero’s or other characters’ shoes.  This is not merely a coincidence.  My writing journey progressed from short stories to screenplays to full-length novels, and the screenwriting experience in the middle had a major impact on my style.  Writing for the screen also required me to learn to create a lean, focused “unputdownable” story that keeps the audience or reader engaged at a very high level.  We live in a world where people have more and more distractions and options to entertain themselves–movies, TV, videoclips, music, social networking, gaming, etc. and its growing all the time.  Authors who write novels are competing with all of that, all of the time–if a story drags or meanders, people can just push a button and do something else.  You have to keep the reader nailed to the page at all times.

Fiona: Is there a message in your novels that you want readers to grasp?
No, I don’t consciously put “messages” in my books, as I think that would come off as preachy no matter how subtly I might try to do it.  I personally don’t like preachy stories.   That said, I am sure there are expressions of my views about life in my books, but they are there just because they’re there, and I would never try to summarize them outside of the story, that’s not my job.  My job is to write and the readers’ job is to analyze and interpret (if they see fit–most readers do not spend much time on that)

Fiona: Are your stories based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Yes all my stories to some extent are based on my own experiences, places I have been and people I have known, but everything is heavily disguised, switched around, one bit taken from one place/person and another from somewhere else.  There are no “real” people or events in my books.  Everything is a fantasy, made up.

Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
I don’t think there are any books or authors I could say influenced me the most.  A few that I think are masters of drama and storytelling (and this includes some screenwriters) are David Mamet, Rod Serling, Sidney Sheldon, Thomas Hardy, and Thomas Harris.

Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Interestingly, Dr. George Cook, my Ph.D. advisor and close friend, even though he is an engineering professor.  He has always appreciated my fiction writing ability and been a great source of support.

Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
It already is for me, yes.  I make a full-time living from my fiction writing now, which to me, is pretty amazing, considering how long it took me to get here (20 years).

Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Nope.  Once they are done, they are cast in stone.  I move on and do not look back, though I often take reader feedback and incorporate it into the next book.

Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
As I said before about reader engagement, keeping the story tightly focused and moving relentlessly forward is always a challenge.  To make each book “unputdownable,” so to speak.  Also, weaving in subplots into the main plot can involve a lot of cursing and hair-pulling (this is why I don’t have much hair left).  In general, it is a big challenge to write a very lean, focused stories and cut out everything that is not relevant in some way to the tales I’m telling.  I think most newbie writers tend to go off on tangents and get excited about putting a whole lot of stuff (description, characterization, etc.) that simply doesn’t need to be there and actually hurts the overall impact of the story (waters it down and bores readers) rather than making it better.  I know I did.  “Less is more” is my mantra these days, but of course you can’t take this too far or the style will be too bland.  Striking a good balance is the key.

Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
No.  I wish I did!  I am part of the new digital-only breed of author now.  While this is helpful for reaching readers all over the world, the downside is that I have very little face-to-face contact with readers and other authors, only chatting via social networks.  It’s just not the same as face-to-face contact.  I miss that.  I hope the situation changes, somehow.  I would like to teach in another creative writing program, for example–I taught for several summers in the one at University of Oxford.

Fiona: Who designs your covers?
I design all my own covers.  I have always dabbled in art and can muster up enough skill to put together a book cover, which is a part of the creative process I enjoy.  I see my books not just as manuscripts but complete packages, including the cover images and descriptions.  All of it matters.  All these pieces should fit together and form one smooth and pleasing whole.  I want to get the whole package exactly the way I want it.

Incidentally, this is the main reason I chose to be an indie author and publish my own books rather than having them traditionally published.  I don’t believe my books will ever get the same level of treatment by 9 to 5 employees of a Big 5 publishing house, for example.  People can argue with me all they want about this, but no one can convince me otherwise, I’ve been there.  At the end of the day, nobody is going to put the same amount of meticulous, loving energy and effort into a book as the author.  This is just common sense.  Your book is “your baby.”  For authors who do not have the skill set to publish and market their own books, traditional publishing is probably a good thing, or for people who are keen on getting awards and critical recognition.  For me, these latter accolades would be nice, but not worth the price I would have to pay giving up creative and marketing control.

Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
I do, at least for new fiction writers:  learn as much as you can about DRAMA.  I think this is one of the best kept secrets to writing a good novel.  Most people read fiction to be entertained, and I think a lot of new authors miss that simple point.  Readers don’t read to be impressed by your vocabulary or your amazing ability to describe a sunset or babbling brook.  They want to be moved, emotionally.  This means catching the reader up in the drama of the story, with the conflicts that characters face with each other and within themselves.  If you want to write a good novel, yes, you should have a decent command of the English (or whatever) language, but study dramatic structure, know how to create and sustain narrative tension and keep the reader turing those pages to find out what happens next.

Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Yes, I thank each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart.  Without you, writing would be pointless.  I know some authors do not feel this way, but for me, unless I know there are people out there itching to get their hands on my next book, or unless I can at least pretend that there are such people out there, finding the motivation to fight my way through an entire novel would be nearly impossible.

Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
I love the outdoors and like swimming, cycling, running, hiking, scuba diving and a lot of other outdoor sports.

Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
At the moment I completely addicted to Mad Men and House of Cards.

Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Italian/blue/jazz

Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I would like to have been the next best thing:  a roller coaster designer for theme parks

Thanks so much for interviewing me, Fiona!

READERS:  Stay tuned for the Wild Child 3 release and, after that, Lust, Money & Murder, Book 6! Both of these books will complete trilogies (Wild Child 1, 2 & 3 and Lust, Money & Murder 4, 5 & 6.  Also, both of these trilogies will be offered as three-book bundles.