Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Marvelous Michael Offutt

Do you guys ever get nervous asking people to do interviews on your blog? Cause I totally do! Luckily, Michael was an awesome sport about this and I'm excited to share this interview starring him. Michael has a book coming out this spring - probably May (YAY!) And it sounds like it's going to be awesome! And one of the things I can't forget about Michael is that he always says what he thinks and doesn't sugar coat. I've come to appreciate this in people. So please welcome Michael!

Michael Offutt Blog
Michaels Book on Goodreads!


Q: Thanks for joining us today, Mike! Tell us about yourself in 40 words or less....
A: I think people have birdfeeders so that cats have something to do all day.

Q: Now you've got a book, SLIPSTREAM, coming out this spring, correct? Can you tell us a little about your book?
A:  One day, I thought to myself, “Why are the laws of physics so concrete?” The universe breaks down quite nicely to mathematical equations, you know? Scientists can describe gravity, the speed of light, and even the tidal surges of the oceans in mathematical terms. So I created a story envisioning God as an engineer. He created a computer program that defined all of the laws of physics for the entire universe.  When finished, like any good engineer would, he started the program up.  Then he looked into the universe to see how it was running. But just like in Schrodinger’s Cat, when he took an observation, it split the universe in two.  The idea of Schrodinger’s Cat is that at the time you take a measurement of the system, you create two possibilities.  One in which the cat is alive. The other in which the cat is dead.  And one is never aware of the other because these possibilities exist in separate universes.

So God now had two of these to deal with.  The other universe was essentially a mirror image of the first one.  In order to keep from causing another split, God created angels, gave them the power to move between universes, and sent them to Earth and its twin world in the other universe and had them build enormous towers to contain the boxes that ran the amazing computer program mentioned above.  The one on earth is hidden under two miles of ice in Antarctica and looks like one of the many peaks of the Gamburtsev Mountain range recently discovered.  The other once rose above White Sands, New Mexico (it's all cracked and ruined now--explanation below).

My story begins when something catastrophic happens. Earthlings detonated an atomic device in 1945 and the electromagnetic pulse crossed dimensions and turned the box off on the mirror world for a few seconds. So for an instant, all physics in that mirror universe failed.  The tower blew up and billions of people died.  But God was a clever engineer. He had a failsafe program that would launch in the event of something terrible happening to one of the two boxes.  Called Zero, it took the form of a man only with glass skin.  Zero saved the world but people didn’t trust him. So a woman named Eve volunteered to join with Zero so that he could understand human desires and needs. The only problem is that he assimilated the human fear of death. Because Zero was an immortal being, this irrational fear drove him insane. His mind fractured into Light and Shadow and they fought a civil war in his body. The Shadow won and imprisoned the Light’s consciousness.  Then, the Shadow became a mad despot over the humans on this mirror world who live in cloistered mega-cities with populations in the hundreds of millions.

“Slipstream” is about Jordan, a 17-year-old boy on Earth who loves ice hockey and who in many ways, is a genius.  He finds out many incredible things about himself, not the least of which involves bringing Order to Chaos in a world that he didn’t even know existed.

Q:  I've already got your book on my TBR list on Goodreads! Can't wait to read it. How would you describe the publishing process thus far?
A:  Publishing is glacially slow. Plus it gives you lots of time to think on whether you suck or not as you’re waiting. There are times when I want to write my publisher and say, “Let’s hold off on putting my book out there” mostly because I wonder if there’s an error in the manuscript that I didn’t catch. I know there are.  I just cannot find them and neither can the editor I’ve worked with. But a small publisher doesn’t have an infinite budget for editing and at some point you have to let go and say “it’s good enough.” The other thing about publishing is that with the exception of very few people, no one makes any money at this. All of us writers just sit around dreaming up stories for people and we make like a hundred bucks (I think) and then it’s time for a new story.  Maybe some of the Big Six authors make money.  But I’ve noticed that Nathan Bransford hasn’t quit his job at CNET. That kinda tells me something…like maybe he made enough money to pay off a car.

Q: Any tidbits of advice you want to share for aspiring authors? 
A:  Read books. I’ve read 27 books just this year. Be active in the community. Review the books that you’ve read.  The reason I say to read books is because for the most part, the world gives back to you what you put into it.  If you are networking online through your blog, you have got to realize by now that there are thousands of aspiring writers out there. When I realized this, I decided to start buying their books and reading them. Someone has to, right? All of these people are out there spending time alone in front of their computers typing away and the time means a lot to them.  How would you feel as a writer, if people just pushed your book to the side and said, “I don’t have time for your book right now but could you please read mine?” That’s just rude.

Q: You've got a great blog! Do you feel like blogging and social media is important for a writer or do you just do it for fun?
A: It’s very important. If you don’t connect with other writers out there, you think somehow that you’re special and get this inflated idea that you might be a genius.  This couldn’t be further from the truth. I think nearly 8 out of 10 people in the U.S. are writers (don’t fact check that but I heard it from someone).  I think it’s accurate. I’ve gone around my workplace and asked people if they write and found that they do. All these people sitting in closets writing. Who knew? Everyone wants to have a voice and to be heard.  Blogging allows us an easy way to connect with each other and to share ideas and to support one another.

Q: And now for a few "chocolate chip" questions.... (That's what I call them anyway... they make for a funny sort of treat.)
So... if you were a crayon, what color would you be?
A: I would be blue because I think blue eyes are pretty. Although Elizabeth Taylor pretty much takes the cake for the best looking natural peepers I’ve ever seen. Professionals claim they are violet though (a rare genetic mutation).

Q: If you could make 1 trip in a time machine, would you travel to the past or the future, and why?
A: I would want to see the dinosaurs. I’d go to the past to see that. I’d make sure I had the proper equipment to be comfortable though and to protect me from being eaten.

Q: If you could be one literary character, who would you be?
A: I think I’d pick Garion from David Eddings’ Belgariad. I loved the Belgariad as a kid, and the stories stuck with me as an adult. Garion was just really cool and the world was incredibly detailed. Plus he had blue eyes J.

Q: And finally... share a favorite thought or quote with us!
A: “They say when a parent dies, the child feels his own mortality. But when a child dies, it’s immortality that a parent loses.”  --spoken by Constance from the FX television show, American Horror Story

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29 comments:

Judy said...

What a fun interview! And the book sounds like intriguing. Good luck, Mike!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Alternate universes are always fun! Always dug the Star Trek episodes that featured them. And blogging is the best thing in the world for an author or writer.
Great interview!

Deborah Walker said...

But Michael, I am special. I wouldn't go as far as to say I'm a genius, but . . .

*laughs* Great interview. And your book sounds great. Now stem those nerves and prepare to reap the glory.

Kelley said...

Great interview Leigh! Love it!

Angela Cothran said...

Michael's book sounds so cool, I need to check it out. I'm a Belgariad fan too--though Aunt Pol is my favorite. Great interview :)

After thought: I think God is an engineer :)

Michael Offutt, Expert Critic said...

@Judy: Thank you.

@Alex: You use wormholes sir to place yourself everywhere in the blogosphere at the same time. Do not deny it.

@Deb: "Special" has so many negative connotations.

@Kelley: Thanks. I thought I was too wordy.

@Angela: My thoughts exactly.

Amber said...

Wow, that is some seriously hefty backstory, which is normally a meh thing, but it was really interesting! I love - LOVE! - how you applied scientific principles to religion. Looking forward to it.

Brinda said...

Glacially slow? I think that may be an understatement. Ha! I liked the interview a lot since Leigh chose original questions. Why can't I come up with these? Nice to meet you Leigh and Michael is a hoot. And I don't even think he's trying. I'm excited about the release date of Slipstream.

Stacy Henrie said...

Great interview! Love your questions, Leigh.

Michael Offutt, Expert Critic said...

@Amber: You know, that kind of back story makes writing a query letter super difficult (almost impossible) because how do you relate all that in just a few sentences so that an agent doesn't just shake their head and say, this story lacks focus?

Caledonia Lass said...

Great interview! Loved it. Michael, I think we need to talk about promoting our books in May. (If my due date remains the same, that is.) :)

Matthew MacNish said...

Dang. That final quote is hard core.

M Pax said...

That's exactly why we have a bird feeder. :)

Great premise. I'll have to make sure your book is on my tbr list.

Leigh Covington said...

This is awesome Michael! Thanks again for coming to share today!

Joanne said...

Thanks Leigh and Michael for the great interview. It's always nice to get an inside glimpse at a writer's life ...

J.L. Campbell said...

Interesting interview. I'm with Micheal on supporting writers through reading books, reviewing and just being buddies. We need as much support as we can get.

Peaches Ledwidge said...

I like the look of your page and I like Michael's interview.

The Golden Eagle said...

Great interview!

It sounds like a really interesting book, based on the back story--Jordan must have a lot on his shoulders. :P

Seeing dinosaurs would be cool.

J. A. Bennett said...

Great interview! So fun! I LOVE your new header BTW ;)

Andrew Leon said...

You know, for a non-religious dude, that's a pretty interesting story you have there. I'm looking forward to it.

I'm with you on Garion, too. The Belgariad is awesome.

E.R. King said...

Excellent interview. I feel I know your book a lot better now, Michael. I also adore your advice about reading. I've read three dozen books this year, and I want to add another six before the year is through.

Rusty Webb said...

Great backstory. Almost wish you kept it mum though. It feels like that should be a big reveal at the end of the novel. Really looking forward to reading it.

Michael Offutt, Expert Critic said...

@Rusty: It's not really that big of a reveal. My short story that I hope to find a home in a sci-fi magazine explains everything above.

@Andrew: I write fiction Andrew. How is any of the above affected in any way by my personal beliefs if it is all fiction? I think you are confused.

Patricia T. said...

Enjoyed the interview. I like alternate universes. I followed Star Trek for years! Great questions Leigh.

Nicki Elson said...

How did you ever scale down a story so complex into four paragraphs---that I understood? Well done! And now I'm even more excited to have Slipstream on my TBR list. I love that you're not going into this whole publishing thing w/ dollar signs in your eyes.

Great interview, Leigh!

Kate Coursey said...

Nice interview! I've seen Michael around the blogosphere, so I'll have to check out his book when it comes out. Publishing is glacially slow.....I hate waiting, but I'm sure it will be worth it in the end!

Anyways, I stumbled across your blog today and I've had fun reading through the recent archives. I'm Kate, and I'm an agented YA writer from Utah....I'm looking forward to more of your posts!

Theresa Milstein said...

And here I thought bird feeders gave something for the squirrels to do.

The more I hear about this book, the more I want to read it.

Andrew Leon said...

Hmm... no, not confused. Experience has told me that most non-religious people will not write a story dealing heavily with religion unless it is specifically to bash religion (as with Philip Pullman).
Don't get me wrong, I think it's great. Just unexpected.
And it's a very interesting concept... the way the universe splinters. My mind is already going on that.

eva fhadilah said...


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