A pharmacist by trade, he’s been a fantasy and science-fiction reader for most of his life. He has dabbled in software design, fantasy art, and is an avid tree climber. He lives in Texas with his wife and two kids.
BRIAN: I’m pleased to welcome back Michael G. Manning, author of the Mageborn
fantasy series, to the Underground. Michael, its great having you back. Wow, it’s been an incredible year for you, hasn’t it? When we “met”last year, you had just begun your journey with Mageborn: The Blacksmith’s Son. Now, with three novels and almost a quarter of a million books, you’ve met with amazing success. Did you expect all of this so soon?
MICHAEL: Hell no! But I am extremely pleased that things worked out the way they did.
BRIAN: In the past year you’ve published two more books in the Mageborn series, The Line of Illeniel and The Archmage Unbound. Publishing three quality books in one year is an impressive feat for any author. How did you manage to do it?
MICHAEL: Virgin sacrifices, I thought everyone knew already. Alright, that’s an exaggeration. I’m not entirely sure how I did it. Each book was different. The second book I felt compelled to finish and release quickly for two different reasons. One, I worried that the fans would forget me if I took too long, and two, it served as an outlet to channel my grief over losing my father.
The third book was done more slowly and I could feel the fans waiting
impatiently for me the entire time.
BRIAN: Many authors, including myself, find editing a daunting task. A year ago you told me friends helped you edit The Blacksmith’s Son and hoped you could hire a professional editor for your next books. How do you approach editing now?
MICHAEL: I approach it silently and with a large stick in hand. I still use friends but I have also taken several of my most nit-picky critics and turned them into ‘advance readers’. Essentially, they get an early read and I get free proofreading.
I have yet to hire a professional but I intend to do so with the fourth book… after letting my usual crew of friends and advance readers look it over.
BRIAN: In our first interview you said you planned five books in the Magebornseries. Is that still the plan?
MICHAEL: That is still unchanged. I would fear riots and an angry mob at my door if I tried to alter that.
BRIAN: You created great characters in Blacksmith’s Son and set them in motion through three novels. Is it easier to initially create a character or grow and mature one through subsequent novels?
MICHAEL: Both have their particular difficulties. Creating a character from whole-cloth can be a lot of work but in my case most of the characters were modeled on people I knew so a lot of the work was already done for me.
Keeping the character true to their individual vision is a challenge though, especially since the readers may have a different concept in mind than what I have been attempting to portray. The truly hard part is that many of these characters are following changes that match up with the changes of the people they were modeled after. What that means in practical terms is that they may surprise the reader by changing in ways that don’t necessarily have a direct connection to advancing my plot line. In other words, much like real people, they will surprise the reader sometimes by doing things that are entirely unexpected.
MICHAEL: Self-publishing is going to be the norm in the years to come. This doesn’t mean it will be a success for everyone that attempts it, the public will be the ultimate critic and arbiter of success, but there will be many more ‘degrees’ of success. There will be room for moderate success and even mediocre success. In the past the publishing industry filtered out most of what they thought would be mediocre books. Unfortunately they sometimes filtered out excellent works that they just didn’t think were ‘marketable’.
Now the public will have to take on that role. So we get more ‘so-so’ stuff and some real gems that never had a chance before. I have made friends with a number of self-published authors of the last year and while many of them are not making a living at this, some are. For myself, I’m leaving my regular job in December and my income has increased several fold over what it used to be.
MICHAEL: My secret is out. I have an agent now, with Trident Media Group, and she has been absolutely wonderful. I’ve been rather stubborn about avoiding publishing deals because I don’t want to lose the wonderful royalty rates I get as a self-published author.
What she has done for me, and amazingly thus far, is secure a contract for me with Piper Verlag to translate the novels and release them in German. The first one is titled, Dunkle Gotter das Ervachen, which translates as ‘Dark Gods: The Awakening’ and it is due out in May of 2013.
She’s also negotiated a contract for an audiobook to be published by Tantor (English). In the future I may try traditional publishing, but I’m not ready to jump at it yet.
BRIAN: A quick glance at any of your Amazon reviews and your Facebook page shows you’ve amassed a healthy fan base. For example, searches for anything Mageborn-related continue to be one of the biggest draws for Underground Book Reviews. How much do your fans influence your writing?
MICHAEL: I pay attention to what they say. I have adjusted a few things based upon that, but by and large the audience I have collected are people that seem to be drawn to the same sort of books I want to write.
BRIAN: What lies beyond Mageborn, or have you given any thought to that yet?
MICHAEL: Once this series is finished I have a half-finished stand-alone novel I’d like to flesh out and polish up. I also intend to do at least one Magebornprequel series, possibly two, and a follow-on series featuring different characters.
BRIAN: Are you still climbing trees?
MICHAEL: I haven’t lately, but I am going on a camping trip next week so I’ll probably brush up on my skills then.
BRIAN: Is there anything you want to pass on to your fans?
MICHAEL: Again, my first words would be: Thank you! Aside from that
I can only say be kind to one another. Show people your best and they’ll usually live up to your example and give you theirs. I wouldn’t have
gotten anywhere without the kindness of others, but it all begins with showing kindness ourselves.
BRIAN: Michael, thank you for joining us again here in the Underground. It’s been an absolute pleasure. Readers can check out my review of Michael’s second novel, Mageborn: The Line of Illeniel here on Underground Book Reviews.
99 Cents of Michael G. Manning links:
Michael G. Manning on Facebook
Mageborn, The Line of Illeniel on Amazon.
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