Interview with Michael G. Manning
A more typical newsletter this month. We’ll start with what I’m up to. Well, let’s see. On my Facebook page, you might have noticed that I grew a beard. It’s my first beard, other than a goatee when I was in my twenties. I’m not sure about it, but my teenage sons insist I keep it, so I guess I will.
Hmm. That’s probably not what you’re interested in. Well, how about this. I finished A Testament of Steel, the first book in An Instrument of Omens. The book only needs a proofread, and it’s good to go. It clocks in at 184,000 words, which is nearly twenty hours long for those who listen to their novels. I’m hoping to have it out by July.
Why July, you ask? Well, see I sent it to a large publisher to see if they might have some interest in it, and they have a three-month turnaround.
Cinder Shade never remembered his past life. His memories begin the afternoon a snowtiger killed his parents. And possibly him. He awakens, bruised, battered, and bereft of all memory. All he recognizes is that he was meant to protect those who can’t defend themselves, to be a warrior worthy of the name.
He discovers within himself a peculiar gift, one in which the motions of combat are made plain, an ability to speak the language of steel as fluently as a master. When he earns a place at a prestigious elven warrior academy, Cinder has a chance to enhance his knowledge and perhaps even humble the proud elves who believe no human is their equal.
And all of his hard-earned skills will be needed when strange rumblings emanate from deep in the heart of the Dagger Mountains. Some say it is the twisted zahhacks causing carnage. Others that it is the monstrous spiderkin.
The truth is far worse. A god thought long dead stirs to life. And he remembers his enemies all too well. Even if they don’t remember themselves.
Now on to the normal programming, which this month features an interview with Michael G. Manning, the bestselling author of a whole lot of different series. However, Michael might be best known for the Mageborn series, which began with The Blacksmith’s Son, one of the earliest indie fantasy bestsellers.
- Softball question I ask everyone. What inspired you to become a writer?
I read a lot as a child. As I got older, I learned something about the people who had written the books I loved and I wanted to be like them. I gave the dream up, though, when I learned about the years of struggle and rejection that all of them went through.
- I can relate. For me it was David Eddings and Piers Anthony. I thought they lived idyllic lives, especially the part about getting to write fantasy novels. And I, too, gave up the dream until later in life. What did you do before you became a writer?
After giving up my dream to be a writer—or an astronaut or even my original choice, mad scientist—after giving that up, I focused on something practical that would earn a decent wage. I became a pharmacist and practiced for fifteen years.
- See what I mean? Dreams given up, but in my case, it’s been practicing endocrinologist. That mad scientist thing, though . . . Looks askance at Michael. You’re known for the world of your bestselling epic fantasy series, the Mageborn series. In fact, you’re likely one of the earliest bestselling indie authors. What was the inspiration for Mageborn?
I was bored. My wife had given me a kindle six months previously and I had finally gotten it out and tried reading some ebooks. I discovered a number of cheap books and read through about eighteen of them in one week of binge reading. Afterward, I couldn’t find anything I wanted to read and I had noticed that many of the books I tried were written by independents. I knew I could do better than some of them—and I was bored.
So I made a list of the things I wanted in a perfect book and once I had it, I decided I should just write it myself. I had no idea it would actually sell.
- Let me make sure I understand this. You made a fracking list? And it worked? Screams imprecations! And after doing so well with that saga, you stepped up and created a whole new bestselling world, the Art of the Adept series, starting with book 1, The Choice of Magic. There are some similarities of structure with Mageborn, but this one seems to have more in common with Name of the Wind. Care to tell us about it?
Like Mageborn, it begins with a coming of age story. I couldn’t help that. I love certain tropes and I write what I love. The main difference is simply that it’s a completely different world and the magic is entirely different. I was ready for a change.
I’m flattered that you’d make a comparison to Name of the Wind, since I love Rothfuss, but to me it doesn’t feel similar to his work. I’m honestly not certain what it’s like. Yes, there is a school in the second book, but to me that isn’t the focus of this new world. For me, it’s always about the magic, about the wizardry, and a little romance doesn’t hurt either.
- Damn lists. That still bugs me that I didn’t think of that. You may not be certain what it’s like, but I think it’s good. I liked it a lot, and a love story is always welcome in my book (see what I did there?). I also have to say that the blurb doesn’t really let the reader know how flat out funny the book is in some parts, especially Arrogan. He reminds me of an even more grumpy, foul-mouthed Belgarath. And his name is similar enough to Aragorn that it caught my attention. Where did that foul-mouthed wizard come from?
He’s inspired partly by my own grandfather, and probably a little by Belgarath as well, since I loved the Belgariad that Eddings wrote. Now that I’m getting older myself he’s also a vehicle for me to express my own crankiness and interject my grumpiness into the story.
- It’s like we’re clones in some ways. I loved Eddings (see above), and I’m getting crankier as I get older. Back to Art of the Adpet. There is a lot of chemistry or at least references to chemistry in there. I smiled (mostly cringed because I don’t like chemistry) whenever I came across those terms. The manner in which Will grows in his magic and the inclusion of alchemy reminded me of a popular subgenre: progression novels. What sort of progression can we expect in the next book?
I’m not entirely sure. I’m not always privy to the secrets hidden in my own head. Naturally, the protagonist will gain more skill and confidence, while at the same time I’ll explain more about how various elements of magic work in this new world. I honestly hadn’t heard the term ‘progression novels’ until just now, but it’s a good description. There will be a lot of progression of various sorts. More than that, I can’t say.
- I hope those secrets don’t remain hidden for long. I want to read book 3. Speaking of book 3, when will it come out? I know. I know. You literally just released book 2 in late 2019.
My plan was for January, but the holidays have slowed me down. I still hope to manage that, but it may be April of 2020 instead.
- What about audiobooks? Will there be any audiobook versions of your new series?
Always! I already have a contract with Podium Publishing to do audiobooks for however many books this series turns out to be. The narrator won’t be free until March of 2020, though, so the books won’t be produced until then.
- Anything else you want to tell us about your books?
Not that I can think of, other than that everyone should try them. These days there’s no risk. Buy one, read a few chapters, if you aren’t hooked, return it. I’m pretty picky myself, so I expect others to be likewise.
Sounds good. I truly enjoyed them. Thank you for your time, Michael! It’s been a pleasure. Here’s the link to Michael’s Amazon Author Page, so you can pick up some fabulous reads.
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