Last month, I interviewed Mike about his writing and art in general, and with particular emphasis on his new crime noir novel, Skidsville. Check out that interview here.
Mike has a lot of projects going, and today he answers a new set of questions, focusing on his satirical novella called Sex and the Circus. If you want to see samples of his work, you can also find him on Wattpad.
1. What inspired you to write Sex and the Circus?
Basically, it's my commentary on things I've observed in North American society. I wanted to tell a story of someone who must learn to assert and value themselves, while struggling with undeserved obligation. Patty is an amalgamation of several women I've known in my life, who I've often seen first hand, often struggling to help others without being appreciated for it. There are still a lot of women in modern society who go from home, to college or university, to marriage and may never assert themselves and create their own independent identity. In fact, the gender doesn't really matter that much. I think many men and women both struggle with some of these feelings and situations. I choose to write the story around the character of Patty, because I think that most people, male or female, will find it more relatable.
2. What are the challenges when it comes to writing a novella rather than a work with both writing and illustration?
I think the challenges mostly come from form and function. Some authors struggle with novella and short stories, whereas I am just the opposite. I don't believe in wasting the reader's time with unnecessary filler. I write a clear concise outline and then cut anything unnecessary or redundant. I don't believe every point I'm trying to make should be hammered into a reader's head 10 times. That's really the only reason that Sex and the Circus is a novella; it just didn't need to be larger than what it ended up being. When it comes to graphic novels, words and images together, the challenge is format learning how to write a properly formatted script and apply that knowledge. You must play film director in your head and not only tell the story, but describe gesture, body language, and facial expression in a way that is understood, especially if someone else is drawing it.
3.When you come up with an idea for a new book, how do you decide or know if it will use words or visual artwork or both?
My roots are in comics and graphic novels, and I'll always love them, but, for me at least, the process of producing a comic is more expensive and time consuming than a novel. Every idea I have, I get a feeling very early on as to whether the concept would be better suited to novel or graphic novel format. Many ideas would work for both, so I'll make a judgement call based on scheduling and time constraints. If I know my schedule doesn't have room to complete an illustrated graphic novel, I'll produce it as a novel first, and then revisit the concept when I have time in my schedule to illustrate it or gather a couple of people to help produce it. There are some projects I just see as comics, and those, I'm holding on to for now in the hopes that I'll get time to draw them, but they may end up seeing life as novels or novellas first.
4. In writing a satire, how do you strike a balance between being funny and possibly going too far?
I live by a rule used by many comedians. There is no too far. Just when you're at the edge where you're becoming apprehensive and uncomfortable, that's where you should be. If you're ever feeling uncomfortable while reading one of my stories, it's because I want you to. That scene was written to make the reader face something, or see something I'm trying to say. Often the message is that something isn't as scary as is commonly believed or that characters can make unexpected decisions that you could also make in your own life.
5. What have you been working on lately, and do you have any projects planned for the new year that you're especially looking forward to working on?
My next book is already in the bag. It's a story about abusive relationships and mental illness, and one of the characters happens to be a vampire. It's expected to release on Valentine's Day 2017. There will be more info about it released after the Christmas holidays. It's a full-length novel, and I'm really looking forward to releasing it and getting people's reactions. It's a close personal project, and I'm dying to tell people about it, but I can't yet. Of course, I love my characters in Sex and the Circus, too, and I believe the story carries a lot of important messages and life situations, humorous and dramatic, that readers will identify with. Also, I'm currently producing my next novel that will be coming out after that. It's going to be a statement about corruption in political and financial circles, told as a Western. I tend to gravitate mostly to genres of humor and horror, but I love all genres, so I make a concerted effort to switch things up with every book. I had had no shortage of horror concepts in the last couple years, but I don't want to perceived as a horror writer, but an author that can tackle anything. Because of that I purposely alternate between other genres, like drama, humor, true stories, western and sci-fi. I already have the concepts I'll be working on for the next couple years plotted out, so there will be a lot of fun and entertaining stories for me to share with readers over the next couple years, including a few horror stories. I'm really looking forward to the stories I will get to share in 2017.
Thanks again, Mike!