Author interview with Myke Cole
Author interview with Myke Cole
I have heard a lot of praises for the works of Myke Cole but like many many other books I just haven't had the time, yet, to get around them. Military Fiction is a genre that I have been steadily exlporing and I have found it definitely to my liking, so now it's time to get reading these three well received books of Myke Cole. The reviews of Control Point, Fortress Frontier and the to be published Breach Zone will be featuring on the blog soon!
As a security contractor, government civilian and military officer, Myke Cole’s career has run the gamut from Counterterrorism to Cyber Warfare to Federal Law Enforcement. He’s done three tours in Iraq and was recalled to serve during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Hi Myke, welcome to The Book Plank and for taking your time to answer these few questions.
BP: First off, could you give us a short introduction as to who Myke Cole is? What are you hobbies, likes and dislikes?
MC: I am a fantasy writer, military officer and law enforcement professional. I split my time between writing fantasy novels, command the reserve contingent of a US Coast Guard boat squadron (we do Search and Rescue and Law Enforcement), and I do specialized work for the NYPD. Between those three jobs, I work from the moment I open my eyes in the morning until the moment I close them at night, 7 days a week.
That doesn’t leave a lot of time for hobbies. It also doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for sleep.
I like public order and safe boating. And tattoos. And frozen yogurt. And those dried, salted seaweed snack thingies they sell at Trader Joe’s. I dislike maritime crime and terrorism.
BP: The first book in the Shadow Ops series, Control Point, was published back in 2012, do you still know when and where you decided that you want to write the story?
MC: I was working at the Pentagon at the time, and taking in the inflexible bureaucracy that keeps the massive American military machine moving. Being a nerd, my first thought was “what if there was a department of magic? How would that change the rules?” The result was the SHADOW OPS series.
BP: The cover of the Control Point and the others mention: Blackhawk Down meets X-Men. But what gave you the inspiration/idea to write the Shadow Ops series?
MC: The military is an intensely rigid system. There are lots of binary rules: 0 or 1. Wrong or right. Of course, life isn’t binary, and the rules aren’t well-equipped to deal with the shades of gray required when human beings are involved in anything. As a result, a lot of decent people get steamrolled. But it can’t be any other way. You can’t have the power of deadly force subject to the whim of individual opinion or idiosyncrasy. It has to be reliable, predictable. We have to know what to expect. This conflict is what I wanted to explore in the SHADOW OPS series. Wild magic isn’t interested in rules, and it presents a danger to the established order that demands an answer.
BP: The third book in the series, Breach Zone, will be release in a few days, if you would have to sell Breach Zone to the audience with a single sentence how would it go?
MC: Grab some popcorn and a beer and watch New York City burn.
BP: So far the books have been well received. Had you thought that you books would be loves so much? And do you feel any added pressure when you were writing the sequels?
MC: I honestly had no clue what to expect when the books first went out before the public. I was grateful to be published at all, and anything on top of that was just gravy.
I feel intense pressure writing sequels. The fact in fiction writing is that every book is your debut. Your readers will never forgive you if you let them down. Each book must be better than the one that came before it. The need to keep topping yourself is relentless. I suspect this is why a lot of writers go crazy.
BP: Control Point was your debut, had you learned anything from writing it that you were able to use in the subsequent books?
MC: I am getting much better at characterization as I better understand how pivotal character is in effective storytelling.
BP: Did you encounter any specific problems when you were writing Breach Zone?
MC: I got stuck and stopped writing for several months. I had quit a lucrative, secure, and high status job to move to New York City and write. The result was a downward anxiety spiral that became severe. I pulled out of it and finished what I think is a pretty good book, but it got ugly there for a while.
BP: What has been the hardest part to write in the series so far?
MC: The character of Therese Del Aqua. She’s a Latina female from California. That’s about as far from my life experience as you can possibly get. It was an intense challenge to try to make her voice authentic, but I would far rather try to stretch my horizons and fail than play it safe. This is art. You have to take risks.
BP: Besides the hardest part of the series, which part have you enjoyed writing the most?
MC: The dialogue scenes with Scylla. She’s one of my few characters who actually writes herself. She talks and I take dictation. Love that woman.
MC: No. That way lies madness. You can always tinker with a manuscript, and every time I read my work I find things in it I want to change. At some point you have to accept that the book is as good as you can make it, and turn it in. Having deadlines helps me with that.
BP: The Shadow Ops series will see the third book this year, have you already mapped out how many volume the series will run?
MC: This is it. The series is finished. GEMINI CELL is already finished (in its 6th draft and with my agent for final approval, inshallah). It’s set in the SHADOW OPS universe but takes place many years before CONTROL POINT. This series, with these characters, is complete.
BP: if you have plans for more additions to the series, can you give us a sneak peak as to what is in store for the readers?
MC: GEMINI CELL features a US Navy SEAL who is killed when he learns too much for his own good. But death is only the start of his story. You’ll see the SOC in its infancy, and the very early days of the Great Reawakening.
BP: Do you have any other projects that you wish to pursue in the near future besides the Shadow Ops series?
MC: I’m currently revising a medieval dark fantasy featuring a young, female protagonist. It’s called THE FRACTURED GIRL and my agent has agreed to look at a revised version. That does not mean he will agree to represent it, but he hasn’t shut it out either. I really like that story and hope I’m able to get it over home plate.
BP: Everyone experiences fantasy and science fiction in their own way, what do you like most about reading and writing it?
MC: It’s funny, becoming a professional writer has really killed my usual enjoyment of fantasy. I read critically now, almost clinically. I’m constantly analyzing the author’s technique instead of getting lost in the story like I used to. Reading for me is like a boxer watching video of his opponent before the fight. I can still recognize great writing, but I’m not pulled along by it like I used to be. I mourn that experience. I really miss it.
BP: And just lastly, if you would have to give your top 5 favorite books, which would they be?
MC: Dude. That’s like asking a parent of twins to pick their favorite. I’ll give you 5 great books, but I will not cop to them being my “favorites”:
1.) THE WARDED MAN – Peter V. Brett
2.) PRINCE OF THORNS – Mark Lawrence
3.) THE HEROES – Joe Abercrombie
4.) THE NAME OF THE WIND – Patrick Rothfuss
5.) THE SCAR – China Mieville
BP: Thank you for your time Myke and good luck with your new fantasy book, The Fractured Girl!