Today I am excited to introduce science fiction writer Michael J. Brooks.
What book are you promoting right now? What is it about?
Right now, I am promoting what is, for now, a two-book series. They are the Exodus Conflict novels, Exodus Conflict and Exodus Conflict: New Genesis. They are about two races, the human race and the Zull, fighting over a planet both need to survive and a pacifistic journalist named Alex Mercer trying to figure out why they can’t simply share the planet, which they both discovered. And while trying to figure out this conundrum, he starts to fall for a pro-war soldier named Andrea Blair, his exact opposite. So in short, the Exodus Conflict novels are sci-fi books about love, war, animosity, and coexistence.
What’s the best part of being a writer?
I’d say the best part of being a writer is creating awesome fictional worlds and characters and being able to share those worlds and characters with other people, to inform or entertain them.
What is your favourite scene in your book?
I’d say that my favorite scene of the Exodus Conflict novels takes place in the first book, Exodus Conflict. The scene is of Alex Mercer (main male protagonist) covering a conflict in South Korea. He finds himself in the midst of a war zone for the first time in his journalistic career. During this scene he witnesses and experiences much tragedy. This scene offers a glimpse into why Alex is so pacifistic. It helps you to understand him and why he believes what he believes. Therefore, you see that Alex isn’t just someone who woke up one morning and said all war is bad. There is a reason for why he is the way he is. This scene starts chapter one.
Tell us about your main characters? What makes them so special?
I have two main characters. They are Alex Mercer and Andrea Blair. And what makes them special is that they are polar opposites of each other. Alex is a pacifistic journalist who, because of the hell he has witnessed, believes that most wars are a meaningless solution to global dissensions. Andrea Blair is a pro-war soldier who views most wars, especially the one with the Zull, as necessary. But despite their differences, they begin to form a close relationship. And that relationship symbolizes what the Exodus Conflict novels are all about, coexistence. So, in short, what makes my main protagonists special is that they have dissimilar, unique backgrounds and experiences, yet they are able to eventually open their hearts to each other and see past their differences.
What would you like readers to take away from your book?
I would like readers to take away the message that, despite people’s differences—whether those differences be economic, philosophical, religious, ideological, etc.—they can agree to disagree, not be hostile towards each other, and still associate on some level.
Is there one passage in your book that you feel gets to the heart of your book? If so, can you share it?
Sure. This passage is from Exodus Conflict. It takes place after Alex rescues a Zull prisoner from an unnecessary beating by two EUF soldiers:
The prisoner, sitting on the bed in his dark cell, spoke to Alex in English. “You are the one who stopped those barbarians from beating me, are you not?”
Alex nodded. “I am.”
Grateful for the rescue, the prisoner said, with the utmost sincerity, “I thank you for your intervention.” His voice was soothingly chilling, and he was very articulate.
“You can speak my language fluidly, in addition to your own. Every vowel is perfect. I heard you Zull were excellent linguists,” Alex remarked.
The tallish prisoner stood. The yellow sclera of his eyes glowed in the darkness. “Yes, many Zull have studied your language and learned to speak your tongue flawlessly. Are you humans not capable of the same?”
“Of course we are. I’ve learned to fluently speak two of the many different languages on my homeworld.”
“Interesting. By talking to you, I can tell you are a man of intellect and one who desires to gain knowledge. You are unlike many of the barbarians of your kind I have combated.”
“Barbarians?” Alex laughed. “Funny, that’s what humans call your kind. To the human race, the Zull are savages.”
The prisoner looked at Alex like he was crazy. “Us? What do you call detestable acts such as torture, committed by your soldiers of war on ours?”
“You’re referring to the incident that took place a year ago. What was supposed to be the interrogation of several Zull became brutal torture instead. I can assure you, the guys who took part in that cruel act of violence were properly dealt with, but I’ve heard of a similar occurrence of torture done to us by your people.”
“Then perhaps there are savages and intellectuals among both of our races.”
This is the scene where two people, who are not completely knowledgeable about each other’s species, begin to see that maybe they aren’t so different.
Where do you get your ideas for your writing?
My ideas come from books I’ve read, magazines, newspapers, current and past world events (such as wars), friends, the internet, etc. I get ideas from everywhere. The world is full of ideas!
Do you have any advice for someone starting out as a writer?
Yep. (1) Never skimp on getting a professional cover done. It is worth the money, and many cover designers online charge a fair price. I’ve gotten covers done for around seventy dollars. (2) Never skimp on finding beta readers to give you constructive criticism, whether they be friends or you find them online through such sites as World Literary Cafe. (3) Never skimp on reading. Read books in your genre and books that are of other genres. Read magazines. Read online news and informative articles. All of these things provide inspiration for story ideas and can introduce you to new vocabulary.
I would say never skimp on getting your work professionally edited. But the cost of editing can be pricey. And as an independent author, it may be difficult to make that money back in sales. So it is a good thing to hone your own editing skills and have friends who are very good at editing that may charge you a lesser price.
I did get the Exodus Conflict novels professionally edited, and working with those editors improved my writing skills, so in the end it was worth the cost. When I publish my next novel, though, I’m not sure if I’ll get it professionally edited. I may just use beta readers, to get constructive criticism.
What challenges have you faced in your writing and how did you overcome them?
One challenge I faced was making my writing exciting and page-gripping. The way I solved this was by writing down phrases, adjectives, or verbs from other novels as I read them. Once written down, I use them in my own way. For example, I might read in a novel, “The dark sky promised rain.” I’ll write down that phrase and then in my novel I might write, “The look on his face promised a scolding if she continued to run her defiant mouth.”
Compiling verbs, phrases, and adjectives into a list while reading definitely helps to give you a vaster arsenal of words to work with and use to make your writing more page-gripping. And you can find verbs, adjectives, and phrases not only in novels, but in other sources as well. Such as internet articles, magazines, and even the closed caption on your TV.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
Working, reading, practicing martial arts, and watching movies, television, and Netflix.
What new projects are you working on or are excited about right now?
I am currently writing an online serial on Jukepop Serials. It is a raunchy, action-packed urban fantasy for a mature audience. It is called Dark by Design. Here is the synopsis:
An exorcism has cursed Max Rafferty with strange powers and an inner bestiality he struggles to tame. But with his new demonic powers, he intends to find the Supernaturals who abducted his friend and love interest, Karen Summers, and make them pay. But it won’t be easy.
Max and his partner, a vampire named Nixie, must face hordes of Other-world killers and find out who is behind a recent slew of abductions to find Karen and keep a small neighborhood known as the Devil’s Corner from being plunged into hell.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Yes. I am someone who loves writing and takes his work very seriously. I strive to give readers good quality writing, and I hope anyone who reads this interview and decides to pick up an Exodus Conflict novel enjoys it. Also, I love feedback on my writing, and I love questions, which can all be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks Michael for being here. I’ve loved hearing about your books.
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