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Friday, April 17, 2015

The Aeneid Cycle 1 & 2 by Michael G. Munz Blog Tour with Author Interview!!!!

Titles: A Shadow in the Flames / A Memory in the Black
Series: The Aeneid Cycle 1 & 2
Author: Michael G. Munz
Publication Dates: December 16, 2014 / March 17, 2015 
Genre: Science Fiction/Cyberpunk

Synopsis–A Shadow in the Flames
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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Synopsis–A Memory in the Black
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.

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.

Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads

***Author Interview***

Do you have a specific writing style?
In terms of "voice," it can vary from book to book depending on what's needed. For example, my sci-fi series has a much more serious voice, whereas the voice I used for my comedic fantasy (Zeus Is Dead: A Monstrously Inconvenient Adventure) is far more playful and pokes through the 4th wall on multiple occasions. So far, however, one element of my style that has been consistent across all books is writing from a third-person limited omniscient perspective. I generally write a story from the viewpoints of only certain characters, and I usually only change the point-of-view character each chapter or less.

How did you come up with the title?
A Shadow in the Flames? 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.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Don't be afraid to re-examine your beliefs. Understand that your perception of a concept, person, or thing may be influenced by what you feel you need to see. And while there is sometimes a time and a place where violence is necessary, it never comes without a cost.

Also, never look in the back of another man's fridge. (Okay, so that one might be one of the less vital messages in the book, but it's not without merit!)

How much of the book is realistic?
It's science fiction set in the year 2051, so obviously there are liberties taken with technology, but I'd like to think that I kept the characters themselves realistic, despite the extraordinary situations they find themselves in. The European Space Agency—a real organization—plays a part in things, though of course ESA doesn't have any lunar mining sites at the moment. But if cybernetic body parts, realistic holograms, neural links to virtual meeting spaces, and the occasional flying car will stretch your suspension of disbelief, this may not be the book for you.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

What books have most influenced your life most?
  • The Elfstones of Shannara (Terry Brooks) – which I was reading when I made the choice to become an author
  • Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion (Dan Simmons) – in which Simmons manages to weave plot and character on a level to which I hope to achieve myself some day
  • The entire Calvin & Hobbes collection (Bill Watterson) – it's influenced my humor and my outlook on both life and creativity
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (and subsequent books, by Douglas Adams) – because, come on. It's the frigging Hitchhiker's Guide!

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
I suppose that would be Terry Brooks, though he probably wouldn't recognize my name at this point. Years ago I attended a workshop that he ran at the Pacific Northwest Writers Association conference about polishing your manuscript. There were a dozen of us in a room with Brooks, and he spent time with each of us offering tips both general and specific. (We'd sent him the first five chapters and a synopsis before the conference, so he came in with a familiarity with everyone's writing.) His comments helped me get an early draft of A Shadow in the Flames in line with what it eventually became.

That said, I would like to give a special shout-out to fantasy writer Brian Rathbone, who WOULD recognize my name and who gave me invaulable help in getting a feel for the marketing side of things, especially during my self-publishing days.

What book are you reading now?
I'm in the middle of four, actually: Terry Pratchett's Guards! Guards!, Patton Oswalt's
Silver Screen Fiend: Learning About Life from an Addiction to Film, Larry Weiner's zombie-satire Paradise Rot, and Rick Riordan's The Titan's Curse. I'm reading the last as part of a blog series ("Michael Reads Percy Jackson") in relation to having written a book of my own that deals with Greek gods in the modern day, but for a slightly older audience.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Not necessarily new, but new to me: JM Guillen. He's been around a little while, but I only discovered his writing about a year ago, and everything of his I've read so far has been amazing.

What are your current projects?
I'm working on writing the third and final book in The New Aeneid Cycle, which I expect to have out at the extreme end of 2015. It's tentatively titled A Dragon at the Gate. While each book in the series has its own self-contained story arc, together they make up a larger story, and I'm excited to pull everything together for the final culmination. I post periodic updates on my blog when I can't keep things to myself any longer.

I'm also doing best to keep posting things of general geek interest on my blog as well, and pondering a sequel to my comedic fantasy Zeus Is Dead, or perhaps something else I've been keeping secret for a while…

Do you see writing as a career?
Being able to support myself entirely via my writing is a major life goal. I'm pleased to say that I'm inching my way there since finding a publisher for my work last year.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Though it's not my latest book, I would like to change the name of one of the main characters in the New Aeneid Cycle series: Michael Flynn is named after an ancestor of mine who was on the U.S.S. Maine when it exploded prior to the Spanish-American War. I enjoyed that connection with history, and I liked the name itself, so I appropriated it for the book. In hindsight, I wish I'd changed his first name, because any time an author and a character share the same first name, I think people suspect the character is meant to be autobiographical. That's not the case here. Michael Flynn and Michael G. Munz are very different people.

Though we do both have brown hair.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
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.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Getting into the head of any character who's particularly nasty. I tend to pick a single point of view character to stick with for each chapter, and there's at least one character who is so frustrated, angry, and violent that slipping into his mindset—which is of course necessary to write him well—would sour my mood for a few hours after until I could get the mental residue washed out of my own mind.

Who designed the covers?
The covers for both A Shadow in the Flames and A Memory in the Black were designed by the highly-talented Amalia Chitulescu. I'm looking forward to seeing what she creates for the cover of the third and final book in this series, A Dragon at the Gate, which I hope to have completed by the end of 2015.

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
A book is not written all at once. It's like building a castle, done brick by brick, sentence by sentence. Or, if I may quote the Giant from Twin Peaks, a path is formed by laying one stone at a time. "Writing a book" sounds like a daunting task, but writing a little every day, and sticking to it, all that it takes to get there eventually.

What genre do you consider your book(s)?
The New Aeneid Cycle books are both science fiction, and could be further classified as cyberpunk. People have told me that the books are "more hopeful" than the traditional cyberpunk, however. My other published novel is a comedic fantasy, which of course is an entirely different sort of beast! (Also, it contains assorted beasts.)

Do you ever experience writer's block?
I'm sure I can come up with an answer to this question, but...I just can't think of a good one at the moment. (I hate when this happens.)

Do you write an outline before every book you write?
I love outlines. They help me see how characters and plot fit together; they let me make sure that each chapter or scene develops at least one or the other, if not both; and they ensure that earlier scenes lead to and influence the ones that come after. I don't always stick to an outline—outlines are not straightjackets—but they're excellent scaffolding when constructing a novel.

Have you ever hated something you wrote?
Oh my, yes. I don't have anything that's been published, however. I kill what I hate before it sees the light of day. Er, writing-wise, I mean.

What is your favourite theme/genre to write about?
I seem to have a real thing for the concept of memory and how it affects us as human beings. There are minor elements of that in A Shadow in the Flames, obviously major ones in A Memory in the Black, and I've got a (currently unpublished) fantasy manuscript in the drawer that involves, among other things, otherworldly mages who specialize in memory-related magic.

On a broader note, the stories that interest me enough to write them all involve our modern world intersecting with some imaginative element, be those elements sci-fi, fantasy, or supernatural.

What are your expectations for the book?
Expectations? None. My hopes, however, include my books bringing enjoyment, entertainment, and/or a little more understanding of the human condition to readers. I love to tell a good story. That's really at the heart of my writing motivation.


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