Thursday, May 22, 2014

Author Interview - Mike Robinson

So, here comes another interview. This time I interview 'Mike Robinson' who has released 'Too Much Dark Matter, Too Little Gray' recently. Thanks to the author for making time for us and also to the wonderful people at "Curiosity Quills" who made this possible.

So here is the Q & A -
1) Hi and welcome to the blog. Would you start by telling us a bit about yourself and why you decided to become a writer?
I don't remember deciding to write. At some point when I was around 6 or 7, stories just began falling out of me. It was my brain's way of going to the bathroom, I always say. I first wrote about sports -- adventures in baseball, antics in football, insanity on the links. Then, with the 8-page pencil scrawl known as "Aliens in my Backyard!", I transitioned into the realm of sci-fi/fantasy/horror, and haven't really looked back. Through a contest, I had my first publication when I was 12, then began selling "professionally" when I was about 19 or 20 (I put up quotes around 'professionally' because, although I technically made money, without supplement the amount I made probably would have allowed me a meal every 8 or 9 months). For a while there in my later adolescence I'd detoured into an ultimately stillborn career in videogames, which drew most of my creative energy, but I soon devoted myself wholly to writing fiction. I've been super-fortunate to have a network of stimulating and very supportive family members and life-long friends, who, by the way, won't mince words when they read something of mine they don't like.

2) Do tell us a bit about this book of yours called 'Too Much Dark Matter, Too Little Gray'?

As the subtitle, "A Collection of Weird Fiction", implies, it's a compilation of 19 stories, of varying length, that cover wide swaths of the supernatural, metaphysical, and fantastical, with some classical science fiction thrown in. They were written over a ten-year period, from the first one I sold in 2004 to one I completed in 2013. A chunk of them have been published elsewhere, in print magazines (some of which have sadly joined the Dodo), e-zines, anthologies and podcasts. Stylistically, I'd say they're an eclectic mash-up of The Twilight Zone, Douglas Adams, H.P. Lovecraft and Clive Barker. So if any or all of those names appeal to you, you'd probably find something to like in there.

3) What made you want to write weird fiction may I ask?

That was another organic progression, an outgrowth of my writing spurred by my increasing immersion in ghost stories, Stephen King, Bruce Coville (My Teacher is an Alien series), Lynn Reid Banks (The Indian in the Cupboard series), R.L. Stine and others. I've always loved plopping a monster or a dollop of the weird into our contemporary world. As a kid, of course, my interest was more surface titillation. I just thought it was cool. That still holds, of course, but as an adult I think the genre of weird, or speculative, fiction has so much philosophical validity, not to mention thematic and conceptual flexibility, because it faces head-on the sheer unknown strangeness of reality. It reminds us how little we know, that we occupy at best a candlelit raft on an immense and darkened sea. I think that this kind of perspective is humbling, exciting and nourishing.

4) So what are some your favorite stories in this collection and why?

Whipping off the obligatory preface that I love them all, if I had to choose it'd probably be "Forces" -- I like the style, theme, and, as a resident of Southern California, the story deals with long-held historical fascinations of mine. There's also "Skeptic", which I like because it addresses a very polemical topic in a spiritually and politically detached way. "High Stakes", for its eerie build, and "The Mystery Manager", because it says a lot in so little (a flash piece, it's the shortest in the bunch). But I must reiterate that I stand 200% behind them all!

5) Tell us about your favorite writers and some of your favorite books if you will?

I'll try to keep this short. I stray from hierarchy, but I'll begin by mentioning three books that did signify a change in either my writing career or personal life: IT by Stephen King,  Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsch, and Ulysses by James Joyce -- quite a crazy gamut there, right? Other favorite titles include: Demian by Hermann Hesse, Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut, Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury, Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy, Calculating God by Robert J. Swayer and the more recent Mr. g by Alan Lightman, to name a few. Other personally adored names include Yann Martel, John Steinbeck, John Steinbeck, Clive Barker, Mark Twain, H.P. Lovecraft, Jack London, Anton Chekhov, Harlan Ellison, Joseph Campbell, Paul Davies, Miguel Cervantes (though I've only read Don Quixote, I feel that's a library in of itself, same with Melville's Moby-Dick), Haruki Murakami, Doris Lessing, Sinclair Lewis. I'll cork this off now. A newly-discovered appreciation is Tobias Wolff.
6) What more can we expect from you this year? Will you tell us a bit about your future projects?

Muse Harbor Publishing will be releasing my more literary novel The Atheist. Like my other books, though, it does have a thread of the fantastic. It concerns the public and personal life of a celebrity "atheist" author and pundit, one in the tradition of Richard Dawkins or the late Christopher Hitchens. When the man undergoes a near-death experience, he must reconcile new questions with his established persona and philosophy. There's no religious conversion or anything of that sort -- I try to avoid ideology. Rather, the book addresses more nuanced issues I generally don't hear in debates between organized secularists and organized religion.

7) Care to say something for the aspiring authors out there?

While overrun and trite, the mantras of "writing every day", of giving yourself permission to just barf out a first draft and persisting and persisting no matter what really hold true, and will always hold true. It's also relatively easy to write every day if you feel it's your calling, your passion, because it's not just you that's deciding to write. The stories and ideas will come to you, and won't let you alone until you release them onto the page. That's how you know you're meant to write. Faulkner said: "I only write when I'm inspired, but I'm inspired every day." There will be lulls, of course, depressive moments or stretches of time where you'll feel burned out, unappreciated, resentful, outmoded, demoralized. But the energy will return. Also, don't be afraid of the work getting harder. Usually, that means you're getting better, becoming more discriminating in craft and vision. You're more aware of what works and what doesn't.

About the author -  

An official armchair Fortean since receiving Karl Shuker's The Unexplained at thirteen, though fascinated with the material since penning Aliens In My Backyard! at age seven, Mike has spent much of his literary career in the murky overlap between reality and....whatever else we may want to call that curious realm the presence of which we sense but seldom touch. Dreams? Dimension X? Whichever. Mike's short fiction has been featured in Storyteller, Aoife's Kiss, Northwoods Anthology, Wondrous Web Worlds, All Possible Worlds,, Wash: The Journal of Otis College of Art & Design, and more. He is on the advisory board of The Greater Los Angeles Writers Society and is managing editor of Literary Landscapes, the society's publication.
Here is his website

About ' Too Much Dark Matter, Too Little Gray' -

Award-winning speculative fiction author Mike Robinson offers up 19 of his creepily provocative short stories in his new book, Too Much Dark Matter, Too Little Gray: A Collection of Weird Fiction.
A beer run becomes an interdimensional excursion. Two men settle their differences after discovering an extraordinary secret in the wilderness. A woman faces the bureaucratic logistics of a digital afterlife. A grieving man seeks to know where his wife was reincarnated. Strange lights in the sky begin to transform the lives of a small town. God and the Devil play billiards for people's souls. A teenage deity's science fair project sprouts a startling discovery.
These and more dream-like detours into the surreal, interstitial and inexplicable await within the pages of Too Much Dark Matter, Too Little Gray: A Collection of Weird Fiction.

PS: Look out for the review of the book in a few days.

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