Thursday, October 2, 2014

Interview Michael Siemsen - Exigency

It's my great pleasure to introduce a new to me author, Michael Siemsen. He's here today to talk about his newest Sci-Fi thriller Exigency. Now even though Michael is a new to me author a very good friend loves his work and since our tastes in literature are very similar I was excited to give him a try.
Also I'm excited to announce that Exigency will be our Goodread's,  General Fiction Expats January book club read and discussion and Michael has graciously agreed to be with us to answer questions and comment as we read and chat about his novel.

So without further ado, Michael take us into orbit!

  • ISBN-13: 9781940757223
  • Publisher: Fantome, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/9/2014
  • Pages: 416


Nine brilliant scientists travel light years on a one-way trip to an Earth-like planet. Their mission is to study from orbit the two species of intelligent lifeforms on the surface. The first: an isolated people embarking on civilization and building their world's first city. The second: a brutal race of massive predators, spread thick and still growing across the dominant landmass--destined to breed and eat their way to extinction within a few centuries.

Click HERE for an excerpt

Also Goodreads has a Giveaway
For 2 Autographed copies
Click HERE for the Entry Page
And qualifying details
Contest ends 1-28-14

Michael Welcome to The Reading Frenzy.

Michael Welcome to The Reading Frenzy.
Tell my readers a little about your new novel Exigency.
Hello there, and thanks for having me on The Reading Frenzy. The name evokes this imagery for me.
Exigency is a Sci-Fi adventure thriller (I think), about a small team of scientists who have volunteered to take a one-way trip to study an Earth-like planet from orbit. They “slept” for nineteen years getting there, and have been orbiting in their space station for the past eight, primarily observing the planet’s two intelligent species: one, a peaceful, island-based civilization on the cusp of “enlightenment”, and the other, a vicious, cannibalistic race that dominates a landmass the size of Eurasia.

Every six months, the scientists receive a supply pod from Earth, and the story kicks into gear very quickly when one of these pods crashes into the station, and the team must evacuate to a predetermined spot on the peaceful island. This doesn’t quite go as planned.

Where did the idea come from?
Like most of my previous books, the concept was a combination of various unrelated ideas that one day randomly came together in a flash. But the core of the idea hit me a couple years ago.
I was mulling this concept of a person feeling truly alone, cut off from everyone they know, everything familiar to them—sights, smells, tastes, friends, family—and what this would do to the mind, and the will to go on living. Depending on the personality, they could either feel compelled to survive at all cost, or they might think “What’s the point?” and give up. Does one’s life have meaning if there’s literally no one to share it with? I eventually determined that the key to this scenario (in a compelling story) is in knowing 100% that no one is coming to rescue you. It couldn’t be someone stranded in Antarctica. It had to be light years away, and in a very bad place.

Michael, I love the cover of Exigency. Did you choose it?
Thank you! I actually design and produce all of my own covers, graphics, ebook files, marketing materials, website, and anything else I need for my books. This is one of the main reasons I’ve turned down NY publishing. I’m a wee smidge of a control freak.

Michael according to your bio you were a bit of a, for lack of nicer word, rebel in school.
What role if any does that play in your becoming an author?
Oooh, I wiggled in my chair at this question and strummed my tented fingers together a la Montgomery Burns. I think I’ve always had a problem with authority figures, or those I observed demanding more respect than my cocky smartass teenaged brain thought they deserved. I can’t say I was a true “rebel,” as that denotes (to me) some measure of cool and/or sexy that I don’t think I ever exuded.

A disdain for “undeserved” authority may have had something to with my current career. Up until a few years ago, I worked in Information Technology for 15 years. I’d try to write every so often, but man … life is very time consuming. So, I was working this job as the Manager of IT Infrastructure at a semi-startup .com company. It was a high-stress, fast-paced job with a lot of late nights, over-nights, and a constant flow of projects. And, working on computers all day, the last thing I wanted to do was go home and sit behind another one for a few hours.
Anywho, long story still long, the company hired this absolutely horrible human being to be my direct boss. I think this guy must’ve been raised by Nurse Ratched and Joffrey Baratheon. I dealt with the abuse for six weeks, told my wife I was done, and I quit. We agreed that I’d take three months off to write the book I had been annoying her about for the prior decade. I finished the manuscript, got a new job a few days later, and refined the book over the next two years. (to be continued…)

Tell us when you first knew you wanted to write?
Was it your aspiration to be a novelist from the start?
When I was in elementary school, a family friend gave me a copy of Harry Harrison’s Stainless Steel Rat. I was a little young for it, and hadn’t read anything much longer than Green Eggs and Ham at that point, but I was hooked in the first paragraph. That was the moment I knew what I wanted to be, even though other big ideas would zoom to the forefront every couple months. Only one aspiration consistently remained.

Why did you choose to write Science Fiction/Fantasy or did it choose you?
I’m a techie nerd. I love new gadgets and dreaming of what comes next, next-next, and next-next-next. And growing up on comic books and SF/F books and movies, those worlds were always so much more impressive than the drab reality of … reality. That said, my to-write list is probably 50% SF, 25% Paranormal, 25% Literary Fiction, and 5% YA/Children’s of various flavors. Oh, and 10% Suspense/Thriller/Mystery. If all that doesn’t add up to 100, I don’t know what to tell you. I don’t know math so good. Much gooder at English.

You’re working on the third in your Matt Turner series.
How hard is it going from one novel/character mindset to another?Usually when I’m finally done writing a book, I’ve read and re-read and edited and re-edited so many times that I’m absolutely ready to be done with the book. Not so much with Exigency, which I can’t seem to stop writing (just sent my audiobook publisher another revised copy today), but the magic is generally gone by that time. So for me, starting a new book with brand new characters, or characters I haven’t revisited in some time (such as Matt Turner) is always refreshing. I have ADD so I’ve actually gotten bored with characters in chapter two and moved on to write another story. They (I) really have to wow me to keep me focused and interested.

Are you a reader?
What do you read?
I dare say I’m a frenzied reader! I try to avoid reading anything in the genres I write, as this can be problematic for a couple reasons. a) I read some Sci-Fi book with a space station evacuation (generic concept) and will therefore never be inspired to write such a story because it’s “been done. b) I read some Sci-Fi book with a space station evacuation, forget that I read it, and ten years later accidentally plagiarize half of some A-list author’s most popular novel, not knowing that my divine inspiration was, in fact, from memories.

There are exceptions, though. I’ll read any book by David Mitchell (Mostly Sci-Fi and Paranormal in Literary Fiction’s clothing), Cormac McCarthy, Hugh Howey, Gillian Flynn, most Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, John Scalzi, Julian Barnes, Kazuo Ishiguro, Christopher Moore, everything Crichton wrote except that most recent one that he never actually wrote (puke). And a ton of non-fiction about a range of seemingly random subjects that may, in fact, be random, but I like to think I’m building an arsenal of knowledge for the world in case all books and Wikipedia disappear forever. Drop me a line if you ever need to know anything about Russian Criminal Tattoos.

Michael are you a full time novelist?
Since March of 2012, yes. Hoping to keep it that way! (see note on authority figures)

Michael we met through one of your biggest/rabid fans.
How important is connecting with fans to you?
Do you think a lot of authors neglect the importance of this?
It’s huge for me, and largely my sole marketing approach. Being independent, I don’t have $10,000 to throw at promoting my books (let alone the $100k+ many books receive from the Big 5). Many of my earliest readers are now my biggest resources in terms of refining manuscripts during my beta-reading stage, or putting me in touch with many of the subject matter experts I need during the research phase, and of course, the most successful promotion tool of all, the coveted word of mouth. I did absolutely nothing to promote my first book, The Dig. Most of the time, I’d forgotten I even put it out there on Amazon for people to read. The readers took hold of it and made it a success, and they gave me the job I have today. An early lesson like that sticks with you, so they are where I put all of my focus after I’m done with that whole silly writing part.

As for other authors, nowadays, I think those in the midlist and below are pretty savvy about the importance of connecting with their audience. From what I can tell, those at the very top tend to be pretty disconnected, but when you have fifty million fans, how do you connect with even two percent of them? (I’ll let you know the answer to that when I hit the big time in the not-too-distant future ;)

Did you shop your work out first or was it always indie all the way for you?
What’s the hardest part of donning all the different behind the scene hats for you?
(continued from the “quitting my soul-sucking job” bit) I queried some literary agents for The Dig, and a few seemed semi-interested, but it never went anywhere. Most of what I received back were form rejection letters or nothing at all. A couple years later, I found about Amazon and B&N’s new self-publishing platforms. I made a crappy cover, set a ridiculous price (I think $9.99 because that's where the top books were priced), and put it out there.

Flash forward a year. I'd dropped the price a few times, ending up at $4.99 in late 2011, and I replaced the bad cover with something I put a little more thought and effort into (the brownish cover everyone knows). I think I'd sold around 50 books by then, and never looked at the sales reports. In early 2012, I noticed an extra $1000 in my bank account. It was from Amazon and B&N. I logged into Amazon to see the current sales figures: 3,800 books, month-to-date. "Hoooneeey..."
The Dig was at the top of the charts on Amazon, and remained so for several weeks after. All of this had landed me an agent at the top NY agency, talks with film production companies, yadda yadda yadda. In the end, Big 5 Publishing couldn’t offer me a better deal than I already had. 70% of the retail price and owning all of my rights? There is no greener grass out there. I’ve been an Indie ever since, and though the film stuff fizzled after that initial surge ended, there’s been a renewed interest of late in more than one of my books, so we’ll see where that goes…
As for all those hats, much of it is grueling and annoying (the non-creative, operational aspects of essentially being a publisher), but I enjoy all of the artistic parts like designing graphics and marketing materials. Whenever I’m annoyed by busy work, I need only look in the mirrored closet door beyond my desk, see myself barefoot and unshaven, wearing shorts and the shirt I slept in, and say “Hey, Boss.” Always have to keep that perspective. Maybe I’ll track down a picture of my old sadistic boss, and hang it on my office wall.

Michael thanks for taking the time to answer these questions.
Is there a signing tour for Exigency?
I’ve promised my endlessly patient readers that the third book in the Matt Turner Series, Return, is back as my biggest priority, so I’m focusing on getting that done and out in December. No tour right now, but mayhaps in Jan/Feb for the talented Mr. Turner. It doesn’t snow here. I like snow.

Thanks so much for having me! This was one of the most funnest interviews I’ve done! (yes, most funnest)  :) <- deadpan="" o:p="">

Just an FYI for my reader friends Michael has agreed to participate in my Goodreads group discussion of Exigency date TBD so stay tuned and join in all the fun.

Connect with Michael - Website - Facebook - Twitter

Michael Siemsen is the Bestselling author of 5 novels, including The Dig, A Warm Place to Call Home (a demon's story), and Exigency. He is currently at work on Return, (Book 3 of the Matt Turner series) and Frederick & Samuel, the 3rd book in the (a demon's story) series. He lives in Northern California with "the wife," "the kids," "the dog," "that cat," and he occasionally wears pants.

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  1. Awesome interview, I have some of Micheal's previous novels and quite enjoyed them. He has a witty brand of humor that is uniquely his own, making his books standout. Exigency sounds terrifying and yet I am curious. :)

    1. Thanks Kim, now I'm really looking forward to reading this. I hope you'll join my Goodreads group in January for the read/discussion!

  2. Fantastic interview, Debbie. Michael is zany and brilliant all the time. A wonderful off the wall peek at a unique author.
    Can you imagine how much fun he is going to be for the read? It is one we will all enjoy.
    Foaming at mouth in anticipation.

  3. I love that he designs all of his covers himself, that is awesome!
    Thanks for sharing this Debbie!

    1. I love that he's so intensely involved in all the aspects of his writing Kindlemom. Thanks for visting