Good morning, bloggers! Welcome to my second author interview.
Today’s author is Michael Hammor. He is quite the talented writer, having published two works thus far. These two shorts are the first two installments of a series titled Bedtime Tales from the Apocalypse. Currently they are sold as e-books, but Michael plans for them to be in print soon. I have had the pleasure of reading both of these and they are worth looking into. He opens a new world to Post-Apocalyptic Paranormal. He has a way of pulling the reader in, with an unique ability to make the story come to life. This interview, learning about this awesome author, is an inspirational one. And not just for those aspiring to write. Enjoy………
1) You have been writing for a long time now, since you were a child. What were some of your first ideas?
Good question, Marlena! My earliest memories are of my mother telling me stories. We were very poor. We were living over a meat locker with no heat or electricity. I love candle and oil lamp light to this day. It was like I grew up in the 1890s. We didn’t have many childrens books. My mother would make up stories about Butch and Billy. The “good boy”, Billy, and the “bad boy” Butch. There was always a lesson; always something to be learned from Butch and Billy. Someday, I’m going to sit down with her, and we will write some of the better ones she remembers. They were great! My earliest writings were always horror. Even at 8 years old I was writing about fighting monsters and Satanists in the Graveyard behind my house. There would be night ceremonies, memorial candle walks there sometimes. Now, imagine you are 8 years old, seeing a line of lights moving and snaking throughout the cemetery. What would you think is going on? When we were better off my mother made it a point to read to us almost every night. We were a blended family, born from economic necessity. So there was my sister and I, my now late buddy Jeff, his sisters Cheri, and Amy, and an assortment of other vagabonds all piled around my mother’s recliner for story time. My mother would set the lights low. Maybe light a candle or potpourri and settle into her chair, and begin to read. She read us the Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Watershipdown, and Tailchasers’s Song, among others. Parent’s, select your titles carefully, reading Stephen King’s IT to a nine-year old may not be the best decision. I still can’t stand clowns.
2) When did you know you wanted to pursue a writing career?
Deep inside I have always wanted to be a writer, as you may have guessed. When I was younger I could never get off the ground. The ideas were grand, but I would get bogged down in the details, like grammar and spelling. I didn’t know how to write a story.
Most recently, it was about a year ago when I picked up the pen for recreation. I received a lot of encouragement from coworkers. I would use our down time to write satirical shorts about our bosses and other interesting employees. One that was a real hit was titled, ‘My lunch, not yours!’. It was about a cubicle farm IT worker and his lunch getting stolen every day and the adventures it involved. He tried all sorts of things to figure out who it was. Finally, at the end, it was the UPS guy! That was taken from real life! I was working in the mail room of a major credit card company and the UPS driver was stealing our lunches!
What really drove me this time was getting laid off. I was a civilian instructor for the DoD, training military personnel. Want to know where, read my books. We got notice on July 19th. I was then ‘Sequestered’ in a cubicle away from students for two months. So, when I wasn’t looking for work, I wrote.
3) What part of writing do you find most exhilarating?
I find that actually giving my books away for FREE is awesome! It’s an outrageously high feeling. I’m a manly man, I stink when I sweat and I eat beans from the can, but when I offer a free e-book promotion I want to do a little happy dance every time my counter for free sales goes up by one. Its way more exciting than selling for some reason. The second most exhilarating thing is when a scene is developing and it takes me by surprise. Its like I have no control! I’m thinking, Don’t eat his face, don’t eat his face… and she does… and I’m like, ew. I write it anyway, you do not want to make The Girl With No Name angry. I have read about authors saying similar things, but to experience it, is a very unique sensation. These two books ended very different from where I intended them to, and to their credit, I believe they are much better reads than they would have been.
4) You are working on a 6-book series about a post-apocalyptic world. What has inspired you to take on this major feat?
First off, they are shorts, calling them books might be giving them too much credit. Our society is troubling when you really look at it for what it is. In dystopian horror, I believe the Zombie is a metaphor. Authors and readers are too afraid to really look at what will happen in its face. There are no zombies. For me, and I believe most people even if they won’t admit it, a Zombie is really a metaphor for someone you don’t know, that wants what you have, and will kill you to get it. They are perhaps starving, or drug addicted, but they are mindless selfish consumption machines. Look at the LA Riots and hurricane Katrina. I’m not immune, and neither are you. What lengths would you go to to feed your child or yourself? Imagine its cold. Snowing a little. You and your son are cold and so hungry you have eaten your belts. Your walking and you see a light and a smoke trail coming from the mountains a few miles away. You go there and watch the cabin from a hidden spot nearby. They have LIGHT! And a fire! And you can smell the food cooking. You see them through the windows, they aren’t skinny and sick like you. You knock on the door but they run you off. How would you feel? Would you feel entitled to some of their stuff? How dare they! You deserve to eat! Or do you? People need to dehumanize the Enemy to fight them. My books don’t have zombies, they have people who will kill you for clothes and the meat on your bones.
5) How did you create such amazing visuals, pulling the readers right in & making us feel like we’re there? Did you do any research?
Marlena, I guess it comes from being a story teller, trying to convey information to people who may know nothing about the subject. Information is valuable. I have been writing professionally for ten years in the US Army. I was that guy the infantry hated. I worked in air-conditioned offices with refrigerators full of ice-cold water and coke. However, it wasn’t all AC and ice water. I did sustain injuries from training and while I was overseas, non-combat related, but lets just say I feel my age. My style is a direct result of having my butt chewed my NCOs and Officers every time I made a mistake. Sometimes you want to sensationalize, sometimes you want to downplay, and you need to know when to use those styles. I have very little English background, nearly failed it in high school, and I am sure if an English professor were to review my work he would have a stroke.
As far as research, mostly I just go out and experience life. In fact, the other night I had to run a friend to the emergency room in Bisbee, one of the towns I feature in my books. It was midnight. Cool. I dropped her off and parked near the Inn at Castlerock. I literally walked in the footsteps of my own characters. I looked at the same things they would be seeing! It was surreal to look at it like that. I stood outside the Boss’ lair and looked up and down the street, imagining my followers moving here and there. I reviewed why, I, as the Boss, selected the location. I walked and decided what buildings would have been burned when society collapsed and why. I memorized the way the air felt, the slight breeze. I cataloged the smells and the sounds, the way my footsteps echoed down the street and then back up to meet me. By, 4 am when she was released, I had a lot of material floating in my head for Book 3. I rarely have to look anything up. I have a mind like a steel trap, unless my wife sends me out to get stuff.
6) You’ve had two books published, and we’ll soon see the remaining four of the series. What else can we expect to see from you in the future?
Well, if the response is there, I will write books 7-13. I plan to bundle the first 6 together into a novel size anthology named Daughter of the Apocalypse. If readers want, that means if people buy my books, I have plans for 12 more shorts, in two more volumes entitled Bride of the Apocalypse, and Queen of the Apocalypse. In the next four books, we will see our main characters emerge from the shadows and defy their own natures, make mistakes, and struggle to survive in a world that favors ruthlessness. What you won’t see is a werewolf-Vampire-human love triangle, teen angst style. No note passing, or haunted looks. Post Apocalyptic America in 2033 is brutal and savage. The end of book 6 is going to hurt. I feel it. I hope the readers feel it, too. It’s already written. Love will save the day, but not in the way you would expect. That’s all I will say.
7) Do you see yourself writing anything outside the genre of Paranormal Dystopian?
As I mentioned before, you may see some childrens stories, and I would like to get into Sci-fi. I have a lot of ideas involving long journeys in small ships. I am getting a ton of inspiration from living in a small RV. I can’t imagine spacecraft actually being huge and luxurious like the USS Enterprise. Mass requires more fuel. Fuel is already expensive. I think they will be more like the Millennium Falcon and the Nostromo. Small, cramped, stinky, dirty, and always on the verge of breaking down. Like my RV. I even named it the Aluminum Falcon; it’s funny because she’s made out of fiberglass. It’s not funny cause she keeps breaking down. I want to do things we don’t usually see in modern entertainment literature. I’m not afraid to admit that if society collapses, I will be shooting people that are trying to take my stuff. I’m sorry you didn’t prepare, I hope you enjoyed eating your iPod. I may also explore comedy, like the shorts I would write for my coworkers amusement. I can be very funny.
8) Being a true writer, meaning you write with passion and hope money follows, what has been the most difficult obstacle?
The most difficult obstacle would be obstacles! Writing Book 1: The Girl With No Name was a breeze. I had eight hours a day, paid, because my company felt guilty, I guess. That story had been clawing its way out of my head for about a year. What the Girl does to Roberts, the parts I could not bear to write, were absolutely horrific.
Now Book 2: Aluminum Butterflies has an undercurrent of deep sadness. I can’t bear to re-read it now that its done because I remember what I was feeling and doing when I was writing it. Book 2 was written after I lost my job, after we bought the RV with the last of our cash, after we accepted losing the house in Phoenix, consulting a bankruptcy lawyer, and after we started moving out of the rental house in the mountains. That was such a pretty, inspirational place. We spent four years there. Our happy little shack in the woods. We were losing everything we had worked for. I wondered what ‘Happy” memories my daughter would have of this time in her life. That lead me to the scene that named the book. It’s a memory of the Girl’s father.
9) What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?
Write. Right now. If you have a good idea now, use it now, because the good idea fairy is always trumped by the forgetfulness fairy! Write the beginning, write the end. The rest is just details you can write later. That’s from my military training. Marketing is the most difficult part. Everyone that has read my work has been floored. My wife was pissed off after reading an early draft of book 1. She wanted to know what lead up to book 1, and what happened after. It was that engaging. A buddy of mine wants permission to write the prequel series about what lead up to the end, which won’t be discussed in my books because it doesn’t really matter what ended the world. Getting people to read my work, outside of my circle of friends has been difficult. I have the book priced at $.99 because that is as low as I can price it. I want everyone to be able to buy it and enjoy it. It’s not enough to have a good book at a low price. I’m trying to market my book using free resources. I may eventually have to pay. I don’t know how I will get the money. Things I have done to publicize my book have been to hand out cards at the local fairs and festivals. I joined local facebook groups and asked if I could peddle my wares. That really perked up the free promotion downloads. You have to get out there. Play up the local Author angle. Dress nice; a t-shirt, jeans, and flip-flops don’t look successful. Someone said, Fake it till you make it! Look like a real author, act like a real author, write like a real author, because you are!
I use twitter. I retweet other authors’ works, comment on books I read, and conversate with my favorite authors. It’s really awesome when you tweet a plug for your book and your favorite author retweets it! Social Media is the key. There is a great book I read about marketing on Kindle, $42,000 is in the title. I think it’s still free. I even made 4 t-shirts for my wife with the cover of Book 1. She loves unique t-shirts. We both wore one to the last fair. We must have been so cute.
10) Where do you see yourself in five years?
I honestly don’t know. Five years ago I was sweating in the dust and scorching sun of Iraq using all of my skill to track and eliminate the enemy. We have faced many struggles since then, each one a little worse than the last. In five years, I want to have a modest but steady income from my writing work. The first three anthologies are done, and there is talk of a movie deal staring Emma Watson as the lead. I may be helping other aspiring authors. I would like to be more involved in my local community. I would like to have more hair and less belly. In five years my little girl will just be entering womanhood so I may start practicing my Prison Stare and pimp walk. I may also need some land and a backhoe.
11) Aside from writing, what are your passions? What do you hold close to your heart?
My family is very close to my heart. I love spending time with them and its been the one bright spot about being laid off. As far as recreation, I love to shoot. I’m the best shot with any weapon of all my friends. However, ammo is scarce for whatever reason, so I don’t shoot much anymore. I just got into hunting rabbits. They are very tasty and a challenge. Plus they don’t weigh 300lbs. Nothing like being on a stalk and a rabbit breaks cover. You sight up, and pull the trigger, and down he goes. I do always feel a little sad for the rabbit, but my kid has to eat. I don’t like to kill, oddly. I will go out of my way to catch and save a bug.
I absolutely love to read. I can lose my hearing, my smelling, my touching, but please don’t take my sight! I actually like living in an RV. Its nice not having a lot of stuff. I love music and playing guitar. I just found out today that my storage got broken into and my guitar was stolen along with all of my little girl’s toys. My mother gave me that guitar when I turned 21. She taught me how to play. It’s a huge loss right now because I can’t replace it. I spent today scouring town and hitting pawn shops looking for my stuff. I did play a few guitars. There is one distressed, overplayed, beat up old girl I do want to take home, but they want way too much for her.
12) Anything else you would like to add for the viewers?
Life sucks. It really does. It’s what you do to overcome the suckage that makes you who you are. I could just quit, sit down in defeat. I could suck up the unemployment and welfare and do nothing. I just can’t do that. Something inside me won’t let that happen. I will never quit. I will never accept defeat. I have people who depend on me. I don’t have time for luxuries like self-pity and whining. Book 3 isn’t going to write itself. Do your part, buy my books. I’ll do my part and keep writing them. Thank you, Marlena, and thank you, Dear Reader.
Feeling inspired now? If you enjoyed the interview, let him know it. Here is where you can find Michael Hammor:
For his Blog: http://michaelhammor.com
For Twitter: @michaelhammor
For Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to join in on the fun of interviews, don’t hesitate to let me know! And you don’t have to be an author! Everyone has a story. Let me help you tell yours. Feel free to send me an email direct to email@example.com.
Until next time……………………