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Monday, November 16, 2020

SPFBO: Interview with Michael R. Fletcher

OFFICIAL AUTHOR INFORMATION: Michael R. Fletcher is a science fiction and fantasy author, a grilled cheese aficionado, and a whiskey-swilling reprobate. He spends his days choreographing his forklift musical (titled "Get Forked"), and using caffeine as a substitute for sanity. Any suggestions that he is actually Dyrk Ashton in disguise are all lies.

Thank you for agreeing to this interview. Before we start, tell us a little about yourself.

I am an alien sentience wearing a sloppily put together human skin suit sent to study your culture. Since all you folks do is drink Starbucks, eat cheeseburgers, watch Netflix, and post cat memes, I’m left with some free time. I decided I’d write sociological studies disguised as science fiction and fantasy novels.

Do you have a day job? If so, what is it? 

When not lying about myself, I lead a pretty exciting double life. By day I’m a door-to-door used grilled-cheese sandwich salesman wandering the bleak Canadian Outback, fighting off polar bears, rabid beavers, irritated mooses (meese?), and Nick Eames. 

Who are your favorite current writers and who are your greatest influencers?

Current faves: Anna Smith Spark, Mark Lawrence, Teresa Frohock, and Adrian Tchaikovsky. 

Influences: Michael Moorcock, Celia S. Friedman, Mick Farren, David Gemmel, 

Serious writing takes not only a story to tell, but the craft of writing to tell it well—can you comment on your journey as a writer? 

I learned how to write by reading. For many years I went through three books a week. I’d read anything and everything. I also got very lucky when my first book, 88, was picked up by a small Canadian press. I got to work with Barb Gieger, an absolutely amazing and brutal editor who eviscerated me and forced me to learn how to write.

What do you think characterizes your writing style? 

I strive for a level of visceral honesty but have no idea if I achieve it.

What made you decide to self-publish Black Stone Heart as opposed to traditional publishing? 

My agent shopped BSH for a year and there was no interest. Word was that dark and cynical fantasy wasn’t selling. Seeing as I’d already written it, I figured I might as well self-publish. Since then, it has outsold all of my other books combined.

What do you think the greatest advantage of self-publishing is? 

Immediacy. I hate waiting. 

And I love the control. My books look the way I want them to. I choose the artist. I work with them building a scene. I get the fuck out of their way and let them work their magic. Felix Ortiz (Black Stone Heart, Smoke and Stone, Ash and Bones) makes this particularly easy. 

On the other hand, is there anything you feel self-published authors may miss out on?

Advances are really nice. Not being out-of-pocket for art, editing, and everything else is pretty sweet too.

One of the big challenges with self-publishing is finding readers. Was that your experience? 

I kinda cheated. Harper Voyager published my first fantasy novel, Beyond Redemption. Though it was critically well-received, sales-wise it was a flop. When they passed on the sequel, The Mirror’s Truth, I self-published it. Following a Big-5 release made my entry into self-publishing a lot easier.

Why did you enter SPFBO? 

I had this book I thought was neat. I never expected it to make it anywhere cuz it’s kinda dark and weird, but I figured I had nothing to lose except hair, sleep, and sanity.

What would you do if you won the SPFBO? 

Dry prosecco. Crab cakes. Good wine. Maybe take a weekend to do winery tours in Niagara with my wife, if such things are possible. After that...I’m curious if it might increase publisher interest in the book. Not a clue! Mostly though I’m trying to not think about it. Gotta stay sane (ish). 

How would you describe the plot of Black Stone Heart if you had to do so in just one or two sentences? 

A young man travels the world searching for the pieces of his shattered obsidian heart. With each piece, he regains some of his terrible past.

What was your initial inspiration for Black Stone Heart? How long have you been working on it? Has it evolved from its original idea? 

I ran a Stormbringer RPG campaign off and on for over a decade. It evolved beyond the original backdrop and we ended up writing our own game system detailing every kind of magic system. This book grew from those campaigns.

If you had to describe Black Stone Heart in 3 adjectives, which would you choose?

Unusual. DIfficult. Bewildered.

How many books have you planned for the series? 

Three! Maybe four. Hopefully not more than five.

Who are the key players in this story? Could you introduce us to Black Stone Heart’s protagonists/antagonists?

No! Sod off! Read the damned book!

Cover art is always an important factor in book sales. Can you tell us about the idea behind the cover of Black Stone Heart? 

The cover is a scene lifted directly from the book. I basically cut and paste it in an email to Felix and he worked his magic. He perfectly caught the OH WHAT THE FUCK feeling.

Which question about the series do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it! 

Q: I keep seeing subtle hints and connections suggesting all your books happen in the same world/universe. Is that the case?


What are you most excited for readers to discover in this book?

Don’t wanna give anything away.

Can you, please, offer us a taste of your book, via one completely out-of-context sentence.

That which kills you makes you stronger.

What’s your publishing Schedule for 2020/2021? 

Early 2021: She Dreams in Blood (Obsidian Path #2)

Mid 2021: City of Sacrifice #3

Late 2021: Obsidian Path #3

I might sneak in a fourth release. We’ll see. I’m trying not to break myself.

Thank you for taking the time to answer all the questions. In closing, do you have any parting thoughts or comments you would like to share with our readers? 

Up the Irons!


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