We’re back with another interview! This time, it’s with Michael J. Sullivan, author of The Riyria Revelations. I decided to have the authors introduce themselves, so from now on, it’s all his words.
My name is Michael J. Sullivan and I’ve been published in just about every way you can: small press, self, big-five, foreign sales (15 countries) and audio. I have sold over 300,000 books most of which are from my fantasy debut series: The Riyria Revelations which is six books but sold as a trilogy by Orbit. My second series, The Riyria Chronicles is two books and is just releasing now (also from Orbit). The Crown Tower (Aug 6) and The Rose and the Thorn (Sep 17). My science fiction novel, Hollow World, will be coming out from Tachyon Publications in April, 2014 (print), Recorded Bokoks (audio), and I’ll be self-releasing the ebook.
1. What’s your favourite colour?
I’m going to go with blue as my favorite color as it has a “u” in it and being in the states I’ve removed two u’s from the question.
2. What’s your favourite food? Do you like Marmite?
I don’t really have a favorite food, but I do have two favorite drinks. Coffee – consumed in the morning to help me write and Guinness which is my preferred social beverage. I’ve never tried Marmite but be willing to try it someday.
3. Which country would you most like to visit?
Ireland is number one because it is the home of my people. I still have a lot of relatives that live there. My daughter visited last year and absolutely loved it so I’m sure I would too. Following that my two big bucket list locations are Australia and New Zealand…and not just for the Marmite.
4. What genres do you like to read?
It would be easier to answer what I don’t read as I read and love just about all kinds of books. The only thing I don’t read is romance and erotica, but all else I say bring it on!. That means anything from memoirs to mystery ad thrillers, science fiction and fantasy, and a lot of historical fiction.
5. If you were going to write a book outside your genre(s), which genre would you choose?
I’ve really not considered myself a “genre writer.” People would classify myself as fantasy, but that’s just because it’s the first thing I got published. Prior to the books that made me famous I wrote 12 novels across a wide range of genres: coming of age, literary, mystery, thriller, science fiction, young adult…I may publish them (or stories based off of them one day). I’m excited by the possibility of releasing a book in every major genre at some point.
6. Describe your writing environment, including room, desk, sounds, etc.
We are a bit cramped for space at the moment so I used to have a writing office but now it takes up ½ of a very large bedroom. I have a huge desk, dual monitors, lighted keyboard. The desk is clear of clutter, the only real thing on it is a pad for notes, a pen holder, and a bladeless fan for when it gets hot. I have a leather office chair and a huge framed poster of the artwork that Marc Simonetti did for my Hollow World novel over the desk. I don’t write with music (usually) and I have to have coffee and complete isolation. If my wife steps into the room I’ll stop writing until she is gone. I won’t even let the dog in the room when I’m writing because even him just shifting position or yawning would distract me.
7. If you could have dinner with any character (person if non-fiction) from your books, who would it be?
Myron Lanaklin. He is a character that is 100% satisfied no matter what his situation. We could discuss history and philosophy and I wouldn’t have to be concerned about him crying in is beer or bemoaning this, that, or the other thing. He finds joy in the simplest of things and it would be a thoroughly enjoyable evening.
8. Do you draw maps when planning your books?
When writing fantasy I always do. In fact that is usually my first step as I need to get the lay of the land and the names of places so that I can keep things consistent as the story unfolds. For something like Hollow World, which is science fiction based on a far future earth I don’t as it really doesn’t come into play in any meaningful way. In that case it’s more about mapping a timeline of what has occurred from “our time” to the time period of the book.
9. Do you ever read self-published books?
Sure, all the time. Unlike some people who seem to differentiate between the two, I know that the real issue is the quality of the writing, not the mode of publication. There are many self-published authors whose books (like my own) were later picked up by big-five publishers which just reinforces that there is plenty of quality there. I’ve even written a guide for Ranting Dragon on 20 self-published authors worth reading.
10. I’m interested in fantasy, science fiction, history, and classics. Which author’s books would you recommend to me?
For fantasy I would recommend Patrick Rothfuss, Brandon Sanderson, and newcomer Anthony Ryan. For science fiction I would go with some of the classics like Asimov and Heinlein. For historical fiction I think Ken Follett has some amazing books out. When it comes to classics I really enjoy Steinbeck’s writing.