Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Meet Mike Miracle

Today on the blog, I’d like to introduce you to Mike Miracle. Lucky husband, fortunate father of two great kids and the caretaker of many different monsters.

Originally from the east coast, Mike and his family now reside on a farm in the Midwest. Mike was able to use his programming skills to start his own small business from home, where every day is casual Friday. Mike has always searched for ways to express creativity and imagination. Through music, art and now the printed word. Mike’s childhood love of science fiction has never been stronger. There are plenty of crime dramas in the office library, but science fiction still dominates.

Mike wanted to create a plausible dimension outside of anything anyone has read before. To grab the reader by the hand and walk them through the bright light and show them what happens in the realm known as The Next.

So, first up. I guess Mike Miracle is a pen name?

I get asked that all the time. Is that a stage name? But Mike Miracle is my real name.

When did you first discover your passion for writing?

I think everyone has a story to tell. I used to do mine back in the day through music. Several garage bands, I’d write original songs that were just mini stories. Mostly about painful stuff. I think most music came from something bad that happened. But writing this book was not like that at all. It was exciting and difficult and stressful all at the same time. It was like letting a creative monster loose on the world.

What genre are your books?

It’s Sci Fi in the middle with drama/thriller wrapped around it like a chalupa. Maybe a little Sci Fi comes out in the end? That’s a strange analogy, but entirely accurate.

What draws you to this genre?

The ability to create. There also have to be some checks and balances of what you write. But it’s also good to leave somethings up to the imagination of the reader.

Have you ever considered writing stories for other genres?

Yes. Young adult. My 13 year old son is a voracious reader, and I’ve tried to encourage him to write a little bit. So we’ve collaborated a little bit on a story featuring a former US President as a stand-up comedian. It might go nowhere, but I enjoy him laughing at the nonsense I come up with.

What is the best part about being a writer?

The ability to be creative. To come up with an idea and let it run.

And what is the worst?

Keeping your day job. I’d rather just write, but the lights must be kept on. Writing usually gets put on hold until after work, late in the evening after everyone else is in bed.

Do you have a favorite author?

That’s tough. If you forced me I’d have to say my favorite is Michael Connelly. I also look forward to Jim Butcher and Lisa Gardner. There are probably 10 authors I could put into a hat and the one I drew out would be just fine as my favorite.

Tell us about the book you’re currently working on?

One character lies in wait to seek revenge for his wife’s accidental death. I have a book trailer at the top of my twitter feed @_mikemiracle or you can see it via youtube - https://youtu.be/AvYfuGuHIyA

The Sci Fi part is an alternate version of the afterlife called The Next. Where the newly arrived clients find out that they have a choice of what happens to them. They can move on, go back to their previous life or let chance decide.

I’m working on getting my first book out of the hands of the publisher so it can get into the hands of readers. But I’m also writing the second book in the series The Next. I don’t really know how many books there will be, I guess until the story plays itself out like so many others.

Do you dislike any of your character(s)?

Out of the six or so earthly characters, I’d say there’s only one that’s a decent person. The others all have their issues that would make me not like them.

And last of all, where can readers go to learn more about you and your work?

Website, Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Instagram!

Thanks very much for joining us today, Mike. I hope you pop back when your book is available and we’ll keep our eyes peeled 🙂

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Nesting Instinct

Earlier this year, my darling organised the removal of two large trees from our backyard. On the day he came home to find them gone, he was ecstatic.

The birds were less impressed. Although they’ve now got more ground to poke their beaks in and around in search of a feed, there’s only the clothesline left for them to perch and have a gossip about their day.

Fast forward to spring, and there are far fewer prime real estate locations on our property for birds to pitch their nests in an attempt to attract a mate and raise another crop of little flying dinosaurs. So, it makes sense that one day we opened our letter box to find a half-constructed nest inside.

Feeling confident we could cope with this problem, we pulled the foundations out and threw them away, then swept the inside of the box with a short-handled broom until all traces of the building site were gone. Problem solved.

The next time we checked the letterbox, we discovered that far from solving the problem, we’d made the area into some sort of “highly desirable” neighbourhood with exclusivity appeal. Another nest thrown into the compost and another sweep out of the letterbox.

Now, my darling is a fastidious checker of the letterbox at the best of times. Whenever he’s at home, junk mail can count its lifespan in minutes if not seconds.

But there’s something soul-eroding about opening a door every half-hour and throwing something’s house away. Each time he lifted the flap thinking, “Surely, they got the message last time?” Nope, they didn’t.

Reading online for the best way to deal with the problem, we encountered a mix of quitters and sadists. The quitters urged us to purchase a second letterbox so the birds would be left undisturbed to raise their offspring alongside our post. The sadists suggested we find the lead bird and kill him in the most horrific way possible before mounting his severed head on the top of the letterbox as a warning to others.

Hmm. Tempting. But no.

Instead, we pulled the letterbox out of the ground and placed it face-down next to the garage. Since NZ post reduced its service to only three days a week, we felt comfortable that we could leave it there for the majority of the week, only replacing it when the post was actually due.

As a bonus, this cut down on the number of junk mail trips my darling made down the driveway every afternoon.

And then came the saddest sight we’ve ever seen.

A sparrow, mouth stuffed full of nest-building twigs and dry grass, flapped up to where the letterbox opening used to be and tried to build a nest in midair.

Not just once. This bird had spirit. This bird had vigour. This bird had used up its entire brain with other matters and couldn’t fit in the ability to learn one more new fact.

Sure, it looked like the box it was constructing its nest inside had disappeared, but no way would it give up that easy!

After a half-dozen attempts to insert new nesting materials into a nest that no longer existed, we saw its little shoulders slump in defeat before it flew away. Off to tell the wife they were now officially homeless.

Monday, 26 September 2016

The missed pick-up

When I was a child, my parents paid for me to have a piano lesson every week. This wasn’t because of my breathtaking musical ability, or because I foresaw a future in which I’d be using those lessons every day. Much like algebra, as soon as I stopped learning piano I never really used it again.

I paid the piano teacher the grand total of 50c per lesson for four years until she unjustly jacked up the price to $1 per lesson, and I paid that instead. When I say paid, I do actually mean Mum or Dad would give me a 50c piece or a dollar note and I would hand it over at the end of the lesson.

My brain did occasionally wander to thoughts about what would happen if I didn’t hand over the money. After all, what could she do? Take back the lesson? On the other hand, it was nice to have somewhere special to go on Wednesday nights. A feeling that stayed on board long after any genuine interest in playing piano had gone.

At the end of each lesson, having parted with the equivalent of a week’s worth of pocket money, I’d walk out to the front of the house and down to the corner, then wait for Dad to stop by and pick me up on his way home.

Although having a young child waiting alone at night seems strange now, it felt perfectly normal at the time. So what if my lesson ended at 5.30pm and the sun sets in winter at 4.45pm? Waiting alone by the side of a busy street on a dark night never hurt any… oh wait. Never mind.

So this particular night I was waiting there, a bit cold and a bit bored, and I saw Dad’s car driving along the road. I stepped right up to the edge of the street to make it easier for him to see me, and watched him drive straight past.

Now, as an adult I understand that grownups have other things on their minds. Almost constantly on their minds, sometimes even to the exclusion of really good TV.

Back then though, I just made the natural assumption that my family no longer wanted me and I was going to die out on the street in the dark. Maybe, if I was fortunate, my piano teacher would let me into her warm house for another piano lesson, but that was a minimum of a week away.

There was a police station across the road where my introverted self definitely didn’t want to bother anybody, and my house was only a half-hours walk away if I’d known enough about routes and directions to work out where to go. (Warning: I still hold up my hands to work out left from right and still think of this as a giant step forward in my navigation skills)

Of course, it all worked out okay. When my mother called out for me to set the table it soon became apparent I wasn’t there, and a simple chain of logic led my father back into the car to pick me up from outside my piano lesson.

Mum later complained that if SHE’D forgotten to collect me she wouldn’t have heard the end of it, whereas Dad just received a cautious hug when he eventually arrived. What I didn’t say was that I was on my best behavior in case my first instinct was correct and the whole family wanted shot of me (except for table-setting duties, obviously).

My father died on Thursday and I don’t know why, but this memory has been stuck in my brain ever since. I lived in the same house with Dad for twenty-one years, worked beside him day-in and day-out for another twelve, yet the only anecdote I have rattling around in my brain is this one.

Maybe it’s because Dad has once again gone whizzing off into the night and this time I'll be missing him for a lot longer than the hour it’ll take until tea is served.

Goodbye, Dad. I love you.