Monday, April 13, 2015

Feature: Michael G Munz author of The New Aenid Cycle

Title:  A Shadow in the Flames 
Series: The Aeneid Cycle 1
Author: Michael G. Munz
Publication Date: December 16, 2014   
Genre: Science Fiction/Cyberpunk 


Northgate is in turmoil. Decaying, violent, and corrupt, it is a common enough city in 2051, yet soon, discoveries beneath the Moon’s surface will mark the city with their first distant echoes. 

New arrival Michael Flynn is jobless and down to his last few dollars, but he still dreams of making a positive difference of his own. He has no family, no friends—save for the freelancer known only as Diomedes—and tonight the apartment they share will burn to the ground. 

When Diomedes becomes his mentor in a search for the arsonist responsible, Michael will get the chance to realize his dreams. Joining them is Felix, a wise-cracking “information bounty hunter” who claims that neither the arsonist nor the man Michael idolizes are quite what they appear. 

Will Michael find the courage to pass through the flames unscathed, or will the violence that surrounds him incinerate all that he is? Those who search the Moon will be watching...

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Title: A Memory in the Black
Series: The Aeneid Cycle  2
Author: Michael G. Munz
Publication Date:  March 17, 2015  
Genre: Science Fiction/Cyberpunk 


Save humanity from itself. It is the goal of the worldwide conspiracy known as the Agents of Aeneas. For months they have struggled to unlock the secrets of an alien spacecraft buried on the Moon. Now word of that craft has leaked, and multiple groups plot to seize it for themselves. 

One man has plumbed its depths and returned alive. While Agent Michael Flynn protects him from those who believe that he knows too much, together they must find a demon from Michael’s past: the freelancer Diomedes. Michael’s violent ex-mentor, Diomedes murdered a man at the heart of the spacecraft’s discovery. They must learn why. 

Meanwhile the vigilante Gideon, slain by Diomedes six months ago, has been seen alive in the city of Northgate. His baffling return will draw two women into dangers far beyond those that lurk in the city. 

Memories that haunt them all will entangle their fates as one in the blackness.

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Can you give us an interesting fact about your book that isn't in the blurb?
The primary protagonist—especially in A Shadow in the Flames—is named Michael Flynn. While you might think I named him after myself, he's actually named for an ancestor of mine who was on the U.S.S. Maine when it exploded just prior to the Spanish-American War. In hindsight, I wish I'd given him a different first name...

How did you choose your title?
I was looking for something that worked on both a literal and a thematic level. Much of the book involves Michael and Diomedes searching for the mysterious arsonist who set fire to their building—a shadow amid the flames. In addition, seeing past illusions (whether those illusions come from within or without) is a major theme of the book, and shadows dancing in flames and smoke felt fitting to me on that level as well.

Tell us about the cover and how it came to be.
Both of the covers for The New Aeneid Cycle were designed by Amalia Chitulescu. I'd self-published the original versions (prior to their being revised and re-published by Booktrope this winter), and I loved her work so much that I persuaded Booktrope to keep the designs. For A Shadow in the Flames, the flame and shadow is pretty self-explanatory, and of course the cityscape is meant to invoke the approach of night in the city of Northgate. Aside from the fonts and text layout, the moon is the key element that ties both books in the series together. You'll notice it's larger on the cover for A Memory in the Black, as the lunar-based elements grow to influence the rest of the story more directly in book two. As for the silhouette, there are a number of characters dealing with memories in assorted ways (some more artificially than others), so I like that it can be representative of multiple characters depending on how you choose to interpret it.

What do you consider the most important part of a good story?
It's hard to pick just one part that's the most important, because a good story is a combination of so many things: characters, events, the author's voice, etc. Yet I suppose that even if a story's premise is what hooks me the most, if the characters don't wind up engaging me, I'll stop reading. So for the purposes of this question, let's go with well-written characters who I enjoy being around in one way or another.

What is your writing process?
Heh. “Writing process.” Like it’s so organized. …Well, okay, so it kind of is. I tend to front-load the work in the sense that I prefer to plan things out ahead of time:

  1. I get my premise, which can often take a long while as I search for an idea that excites me enough to keep me interested the entire time it will take me to write a novel.
  2. Sketch the main characters, create a “step sheet”/outline that shows the flow of both character arcs and plot progression, and a general bunch of notes about the setting itself to help inform the writing.
  3. Actually write, using the step sheet and character sketches as a guide. This does NOT mean that I hold such things inviolate. On multiple occasions I might come up with new ideas as I go (and certain parts of my outline might simply say “whatever seems to make sense for the characters at this point”), change directions, or even discover that the characters themselves have tapped me on the shoulder (or punched me in the face) to say they’d do things differently.
  4. Edit, revise, agonize, improvise, and probably eat some pizza.

How did you get started writing?
I've been writing, in some form or another, for as long as I can remember. My first "book" was written in 3rd grade for a class project (it was 10 pages long, and we bound them ourselves in class), and I liked to write short stories and even the occasional radio play as a kid. In college I wrote and filmed four (exceedingly amateur) movies. But it wasn't until the summer after my freshman year of college that I really decided that I wanted to try to make a professional go of it.

I was staying at my parents’ place and feeling isolated and down. (I should mention that it wasn’t some sort of Harry Potter-esque forced-to-live-in-a-closet-all-summer sort of deal. My parents are great people, and even if I had been forced to live in a closet, I’m sure it would have been a very comfortable closet. I was just having trouble dealing with being away from all of my college friends.) Reading was an escape. I can very clearly remember lying on my bed eating popcorn, in the middle of enjoying Terry Brooks’s Elfstones of Shannara for the first time, when I realized how fulfilling it would be to give others the same enjoyment via my own writing the way Brooks’s writing was giving me. So I decided to go for it.

What part of the writing process is the hardest for you?
Usually it's the inception. It takes me a long while to carve out enough of an idea that a) I can turn into a novel-length story and b) I'll be interested in enough to be able to stick with it for as long as it will take me to write the entire book. I get a lot of idea kernels, but growing the full story out of such ideas is the challenge for me.

What tips can you give on how to get through writers block?
While writers block can sometimes be simply the result of being tired (in which case, go get some rest), I've found it's often just your brain telling you that you're not prepared enough. That's when you have to step back a little and fill in more background details of what you're writing about. Maybe that's just mapping out an area for an action scene. Maybe it's a bit of world-building so you can better understand how your characters might be affected by certain events, or how they might choose to react. Maybe it's just a matter of taking stock of where your characters are emotionally at a certain moment: How are they feeling right now? What's their immediate agenda? How much are past events or relationships weighing on them? Focus on building things and characters like a simulation in your mind (or on paper – outlining is helpful for me in these cases) so you can just hit "play" and write what happens next.

Read anything good lately?
Rationality Zero by JM Guillen. It's a novella of sci-fi, horror, and espionage all rolled into one. I blogged a review of it last month, in fact:

Have you had anything else published?
Last year my relationship with my publisher began when they chose to publish a comedic contemporary fantasy of mine called Zeus Is Dead: A Monstrously Inconvenient Adventure. (The other Greek gods find a way to assassinate Zeus, which allows them to return to the modern world after a 3,000-year absence. Hilarity ensues. Also venomous bat-winged kittens and a group known as the "Ninjas Templar.") It was a blast to write, and it's been very well-received.

What's your next project?

After that, I may write another book in the world of Zeus Is Dead, or write something completely new. And then there IS something I've had in the drawer that I might just polish up a little more to see what becomes of it…


An award-winning writer of speculative fiction, Michael G. Munz was born in Pennsylvania but moved to Washington State at the age of three. Unable to escape the state's gravity, he has spent most of his life there and studied writing at the University of Washington. 

Michael developed his creative bug in college, writing and filming four amateur films before setting his sights on becoming a novelist. Driving this goal is the desire to tell entertaining stories that give to others the same pleasure as other writers have given to him. Among his sci-fi influences are the writings of Dan Simmons, Frank Herbert, and Douglas Adams. 

Michael dwells in Seattle where he continues his quest to write the most entertaining novel known to humankind and find a really fantastic clam linguini.

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  1. Thanks so much for the opportunity to talk to you about my writing, Kyra!