This Author Spotlight
The Spirit Room
Chocoholic Michael Cairns is a writer and author of the real-world epic fantasy trilogy, The Assembly and science fiction adventure series, A Game of War. A musician, father and school teacher, when not writing he can be found behind his drum kit, tucking into his chocolate stash or trying, and usually failing, to outwit his young daughter.
1.How did you get into writing and why do you write?
The writing I do now began three years ago. I was on one of my wife’s retreats, ostensibly to help with the cooking and washing up. Fortunately for me, the cook we’d hired was super-efficient and I found myself with a long afternoon and an empty Word doc in front of me. Two days, ten thousand words and lots of ideas later, I was writing! I loved English in school, and wrote bad poetry for some of my twenties, but hadn’t ever thought seriously about writing, despite a voracious appetite for reading and stories and the escapism that accompanies them. There are few things I love more than cracking open a book and losing an hour (or six) in another world, someone else’s life. The thought of being able to give that to someone else is wonderful, if mind-boggling!
2.What do you like best (or least) about writing?
The writing bit! Putting one word after another is the most fun you can have on your own, except for eating chocolate brownies whilst writing. J I’m learning to love editing, much as a teenager learns to love hard liquor. It’s taking a while, but as the results get better and better, so it’s becoming easier.
3.What is your writing process? IE do you outline? Do you stick to a daily word or page count, write 7 days a week, etc?
My one rule is that I write every day. I aim for about twenty thousand words a week, but, as I work full time and have a young daughter and youngish wife, I don’t always quite make it.
In terms of process, it’s pretty simple. I start typing, usually with little more than a sentence in my head, and see where I go. There have been a couple of times when I’ve started with a ‘what if’ scenario, or a character, but even then I rarely have an end point in mind until I’m deep into things. So far, I haven’t needed to go back and do any serious re-writing, though I’m sure that’ll happen soon. For my novella series, A Game of War, I planned the most recent three parts in what, for me, amounts to quite serious detail (about a paragraph for each chapter). So, it does vary. When it’s planned, I write more quickly, but I love the more free-flowing approach as well.
4.Who are some other writers you read and admire, regardless of whether they are commercially “successful?”
I love Steven King, he’s the most readable author to me. Something in the way he constructs his sentences makes them jump off the page. I love Steven Erikson, for his scale and scope and imagination. I love Neil Gaiman for his atmosphere and work in comics. I love Sarah Waters for her descriptors and the emotion she wrings from every word. I love George R R Martin, both for A Game of Thrones, and also his fabulous work with the Wildcards series. In comics, I love Grant Morrison, for his sheer inventiveness, Warren Ellis for the cool, The Hernandez brothers for putting more humanity into a comic book than most literary authors ever manage, and Terry Moore, for writing about love better than anyone, ever. The list could go on and on!
5.Should the question mark in the above question be inside or outside the quotes?
Outside. Looks weird but does the right thing.
6.What’s your stance on the Oxford Comma?
I say yes, most of the time, more for the cadence of the sentence than concerns over ambiguity. If in doubt, or if it bugs you, switch the sentence around. Also worth mentioning, commas save lives. ‘She enjoyed cooking her family and her dog’. J
I’ve written a few, but the most recent release is called The Spirit Room and is the first in a Trilogy.
‘It’s supernatural conflict on a global scale. Action, adventure, aliens, magic, mayhem & modern day super-heroes…
An ancient cadre of magicians
A select team of extra-ordinary warriors
An unseen foe
As two ancient forces battle for control, reality as we know it is being torn apart. Caught somewhere in the middle, and tasked with ridding the world of the insidious alien intelligence are The Planets. Neptune hails from Rio, the gay daughter of strict catholic parents. Mars, from Ireland, still missing the sister he lost years ago. Uri grew up on the streets of New York, and Venus… well, no one knows and she isn’t telling. Imbued with extra-ordinary powers, these highly trained individuals take the fight across the globe. With startling and unnerving revelations at every turn, the depth of deception is only now becoming clear…’
8.What’s your current writing project?
I've always got a number of projects on the go in different phases of production/publication. There's usually a short story or two, editing of a novel or adding to my novella series, and my main WIP, which is a full length novel.
I’m currently writing a contemporary fantasy novel tentatively entitled The Missing. It is based on a what if? the premise being: What would happen if the government had a database of the DNA of every single person in Britain that told them how predisposed people were to doing magic?
9.What book(s) are you currently reading?
I’m reading I Shall Wear Midnight, by Terry Pratchett, another fave of mine. I read everything he writes, and this one is great so far. Fun, funny, emotionally involving. Comic wise, I’m reading Fairest, a spin off from Fables by Bill Willingham, and Rachel Rising by Terry Moore.
10.Who or what inspires your writing?
That’s a tricky one. Everything I’ve ever read, everyone I’ve ever met. Sorry, bit of a cop out, true though.
Finally, is there anything you’d care to add? Please also include where people can read your published stories, buy your book, etc.
If you'd like to get a free taste of my own particular brand of escapism, at http://cairnswrites.com you can download a free copy of my first novella Childhood Dreams (A Game of War, Part one), find podcasts, free short stories, info about me, and of course, links to where you can buy my books.
You can connect with me on twitter www.twitter.com/cairnswrites.
Feel free to ‘like’ www.facebook.com/cairnswrites (I talk about chocolate mostly, and a bit on writing as well).
Enjoy some of the comic art and inspiring images I repin on www.pinterest.com/michaelcairns.
Thank you, Michael. The covers look fantastic, and the accompanying plot sounds great as well. Let us know when the next book is ready!
Visit Michael at his website, follow him on Twitter, like him on Facebook, and grab a copy of The Spirit Room or Game of War books at the links below:
‘Childhood Dreams’ (A Game of War, Part One) is available for free download from cairnswrites.com.
A Game of War parts two and three are available on Amazon, Smashwords and all good e-retailers. (Amazon & Smashwords links below)
The Spirit Room is also available from all good e- retailers: