10 Follow-Up Questions with Writer Michael Gunter (@Michael_Gunter)

This Author Spotlight
features an exciting follow-up
interview with

Michael Gunter

author of

At the age of ten, Michael saw his first episode of The Twilight Zone and got hooked on mystery. At eighteen, he had an encounter with Jesus Christ that changed the course of his life.

In 2001, he discovered his passion for writing. Today, he writes about the mysteries of life from a biblical Christian perspective; sometimes in straight up nonfiction and sometimes in the garb of fiction. His aim is to write great books that entertain and provoke meaningful contemplation and conversation. When Michael is not writing, he enjoys spending time with his wife and kids, playing guitar, and refilling his favorite coffee cup.

I spoke with Michael in September 2012 after the release of his debut novel Blackwell. (You can read that interview HERE.)

Now I'm excited to help him spread the word for the release of his newest novel Defying Gravity, the follow-up novel to Blackwell.

This is a follow-up interview, but for people who are not already familiar with your work, tell us what kind of books you write and what readers should expect from your stories, and what is your latest novel, Defying Gravity, about?
I like to think of my stories as realistic science-fiction. They contain elements of the mysterious, like time-travel and extraterrestrials, but they are believable. I do a lot of research about places and technologies and theories. I even look up weather conditions and moon phases to make sure the setting of my story reflects the conditions of real time and space. I want my readers, at some point in the story, to become aware of the thought forming in their own minds that this could actually happen. Whether they admit that is completely up to them. As for my latest novel, Defying Gravity is set in the near future of 2016. It’s about two extraterrestrials who became stranded on Earth when their ship narrowly escaped capture back in 2001. Aldi, the father, longs for his wife, and his daughter, Sara, dreams of the mother she has never known. When their ship returns, it triggers a chain of events that threaten the happy family reunion. The United States military reacts to what it believes is an alien invasion. An otherworldly being with an ancient score to settle sees it as an opportunity to turn the tide in a cosmic battle. And a young man learns that the girl of his dreams isn’t exactly what she seems. There’s a lot of action in this one, and even some human/extraterrestrial attraction.

What was the duration of the writing process for Defying Gravity?
It took me about fourteen months to write the manuscript. Then it took another six months to get it ready for publication.

When Defying Gravity is adapted to film, and the producers ask for your dream cast, what will you say?
Once I start breathing again, I’ll probably say something like, “Hey, you guys are the experts. I’m just honored to be here.” Then I will pull from my pocket the cast list I’ve been thinking about for years.

Rick Blackwell…..Eric Bana
Jane Blackwell…..Rachel McAdams
Aldi (male extraterrestrial)…..Jim Caviezel
Elsa-Eska (female extraterrestrial)…..Monica Bellucci
Sara (young female extraterrestrial)….. Somebody who looks like the girl on the cover of the book.

Stephen King often makes a cameo in films adapted from his work. Stan Lee is also enjoying doing so these days. What supporting role would you like to play in the film adaptation of Defying Gravity?
Well, I’d have to be made up to look much older, but I’d love to play a character by the name of Erik Jameson. He’s an old man who comes in toward the end of the story. I don’t want to give too much away. He’s just a cool old guy who gets to do something heroic and completely out of character from the “normal” life he’s lead. That’s pretty much me. I’m a normal guy who hopes to have just one shot at doing something really amazing.

For a writer, word of mouth is everything. What was the last book you read that you enjoyed so much that you wanted to share it with everyone you know?
Actually, the book I am reading right now is one I’ve read twice before. It’s Time and Again by Jack Finney (Simon & Schuster, 1970). It is simply the coolest novel I’ve ever read. Time-travel, of course. It just pulls me right in every time I pick it up to read.

As of this writing, the trend in publishing is toward series novels as opposed to stand-alone books. Is Defying Gravity part of a series? If so, where do you see the story going (i.e. how many books in the series)?
Yes, Defying Gravity is the second in a series called The Books of Klyv. The last time we had this conversation, we talked about the first in the series, called Blackwell | The Encounter Begins. I’m working on the final book now, but I’m seriously considering at least one more (maybe two) that will be related to the overall story, but not part of the trilogy. The first would be a prequel and the second would focus on a minor character who became much more important than I first imagined. That’s the thing, once you get into a story like this, it tends to grow. After I close the book on the whole Klyvian universe, I’d like to try my hand at time-travel…not actually traveling through time, although I would if I could, but a time-travel novel. I suspect time-travel is more difficult to write than extraterrestrial, so maybe I will be ready for it by then.

Saul Bellow said, “You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.” Where do ideas for your books come from, and where are you and what are you typically doing when inspiration strikes?
Oh, gosh. Ideas are everywhere. We live in an ocean of ideas. I saw a guy sitting in his car at a traffic light folding and unfolding a piece of paper over and over, you know, like a nervous habit. I thought, “Wow, that’s so interesting. Why does he do that? What’s the story behind it?” And there’s a great idea for a character. I pull things from my past – experiences, people I’ve met, places I’ve been – and put them into my stories. I’m sure every writer does that. I also get my inspiration from music. Sometimes songs show up in my stories like a title or a lyric, but if you didn’t know the song, you wouldn’t catch it. I’m also big into Christian spirituality. There’s a definite spiritual message running through my stories, but it’s not always obvious. People who are familiar with the Bible will see it, but those who are not probably won’t. I don’t like preachy books, so I tend to avoid that sort of thing. Yet I am very serious about truth, although I like to come at it through the backdoor, so to speak; you know… let it sneak up on you, linger for a moment, and then go on its way. Jesus, the greatest story teller of all time, often delivered truth like that. You could say I get a lot of my inspiration from Him.

Brett Easton Ellis once said, “Do not write a novel for praise. Write for yourself; work out between you and your pen the things that intrigue you.” Indie publishing phenom Amanda Hocking has said that it messed with her head a bit when she realized so many people were going to read the books she’s now writing. Now that Michael Gunter is rapidly gaining recognition in the publishing world, has an established fan base anticipating his next novel, and is being talked about in the highly-reverent third person, will reader expectation influence how and/or what he writes? Or will he hold to Ellis’s suggestion?
Great question. Let me ask him. (Pause) Michael Gunter totally gets Ellis. Praise from the public is like a drug. It can get you pretty high, but it can also kill you. Michael’s heart really wants to remain true to his initial reasons for writing—to gain clarity, produce a smile, and promote meaningful contemplation and conversation. On the other hand, Michael’s head has been messed with as well. For him, the fan base anticipating the next novel has created a tension. He wants to get the next installment of the story out for those who want to know what happens next, but he also wants to produce a great story, and that takes time. As for the content, there have been moments when Michael has wondered how his readers will respond to something and whether or not to include something some of them will not like. But when those moments come, he goes back to the beginning when he pondered this question: “If you knew no one would ever read a single word you write, would you still do it?” The answer is still “Yes.”

The world of Indie authors is the new slush pile. What are you going to say/do when a traditional New York publisher and/or agent contacts you and asks for a meeting?
I will buy a new shirt and a ticket on the next flight to New York. Truth is, I love Indie artists. Writers, musicians, painters, whatever—I love that spirit that says, “I’m going to practice my craft no matter how many rejection letters I get, no matter how many doors close in my face. I’ve got something to say, and I’m going to say it even if only a few listen.” At the same time, I love artists who have “made it.” I’m a bit disappointed by the whole Indie vs. Industry thing. Every big name out there was Indie at some time in their life. And I think every Indie would love to have the audience that the Industry can provide. When it gets down to it, I just love a good story no matter who wrote it. I am unapologetically an Indie author, and will be content to be one for the rest of my life. But if a big-time publisher or agent calls, I’ll go down that road…and then I’ll pull as many Indies with me who want to come along for the ride.

Someone once said, and it may have been my dad, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Where do you want your writing career to be in five years’ time?
Yeah, I think I met your dad. Great guy. Five years, huh? Seriously, I’d love to have completed the Books of Klyv series and moved on to another story. But that’s for me. I’ve got two other irons in the fire that I would love to see burning white hot by then. First, my publishing coach and I are creating an online writing/publishing/promotion coaching tool that we hope will help a lot of Indie authors get their work out of the drawer and into the hands of readers. I really hope that is flourishing by then. Second, I’m in the dreaming stage with some friends about building a platform for Indie artists (mostly musicians and writers) to launch their art out to the world. Yeah, they are related and probably will cross paths at some point, but they are aiming at the same goal from two different directions. That’s what I’d like to see happen in five years.

Finally, because no artist endeavor is a solo flight, would you care to share the names and contact info for your supporting players, namely your cover designer, editor, proofreader(s), research assistant, hairdresser, dog groomer, chauffer, maid, butler, etc?
Most definitely. Alane Pearce is my publishing coach and long-time friend. We’ve known each other since high school. She can be found at AlanePearce.com or email her at Alane@AlanePearce.com. Janine Krokus of J Krokus Illustrated Design is the amazing artist who created my cover. Her email address is Janine.Krokus@yahoo.com. Other members of Team Blackwell are Alyse Mosca, Tyra Wagner, John Voige, and Isaiah Brown (My book critique group), Barbara Bush (my copy editor and mother-in-law), and of course my wife, Tammi. She’s the one who has to endure the messy side of creativity that readers of the final polished product never see. If it were not for her, my books would still be in a file cabinet or kindling box.

Thank you, Michael. The new book looks great. A perfect follow-up to Blackwell

Be sure to grab a copy of Blackwell and Defying Gravity via the links below.



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