Mike, let's start with a description of your book.
In Book 1, Seeds of Earth, Darien - a lost Human colony world (consisting of the desendants of Scots, Russians and Scandinavians) - was rediscovered, far from Earth and found themselves caught up in political intrigues which resulted in their occupation by a vast alien empire. Also, it turns out that an ancient mysterious device is buried near the main colony settlements, and is reawakening.
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How did you first get published? Was it traditionally or independently?
I started writing in my early 20s, and got my first short stories published in the British SF small press back in 1986, all charmingly pre-digital! My first professional sale was to a paperback SF anthology called Other Edens 2, and my first novel sale was the Shadowkings trilogy to Simon & Schuster UK back in 2000.
What is your target audience, and how do you believe the e-format works for that audience and serves their needs?
I don't really have a target audience in mind when I plot out and write: I haven't written anything depicting graphic sex thus far - not that I`m against it, as it just doesn't fit with what I want to do, and in any case I sometimes feel that a sex scene can act as a kind of blaring fog horn blotting out other aspects of the narrative. I do use some swear words but very sparingly - again, I`m not against their use, and plausibility demands their consideration since there are moments in life where an angry expletive is appropriate. But overuse dulls the effect, hence the infrequent use. As for how ebooks work for an audience of readers - I think a lot of it comes down to convenience.
What were your initial thoughts about e-publishing? Have those initial thoughts changed now that you’ve done it?
I was and remain ambivalent about e-publishing. For me, a print book is an existing, real-world object; it is its own thing, rather than just one amongst a spectrum of digital entertainment products. Of course, I say this from my perspective, that of the generation of writers that got into writing and publishing as technology first introduced desktop publishing, then moved to the digitisation of information. The new generation of young scamps will be growing up with the digital landscape as a natural given, just the backdrop which is interwoven with all they know. I was keen for my books to appear in ebook format, though, since I didnt want to miss out on widening the audience for my work. Thus far, all my books have appeared in print format first, although there is now available an ebook version of my short story collection, Iron Mosaic, which has several additional stories which the print edition didnt have.
Do you believe the e-format helps or hurts your readers, specifically children and/or young adults? How?
I am concerned about the effect of online interactivity in general, since much PR and other forms of propaganda have mutated to fit the 1/2/3 click mentality of surfing impatience. The sense is that advertising ideology perceives the audience in certain ways and pushes publicity methods to take advantage of that perceived audience behaviour. But I think that it is the shape and impact and subtext of advertising, whether online or on small/big screen, which alters audience behaviour, which deforms modes of thinking into impulse purchases, keying into emotional responses rather than intellectual, reasoned responses. These are the doubts I have with respect to online commercial culture, and it seems to me that children/young adults are wide open to this.
Find out more about Mike and his books at his website or by following him on Facebook. You might also enjoy seeing his book trailer for the Humanity's Fire series.
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