Friday, March 15, 2013

Author Interviews: Justin Macumber

By Jacob Donley

Justin Macumber is one of the three hosts and one of the original founders of the DEAD ROBOTS’ SOCIETY and a host on a film podcast THE HOLLYWOOD OUTSIDER. Justin is an author that I was fortunate enough to learn of his works while listening to the Dead Robots’ Society. He is a resident of the Dallas/Fort worth area of Texas where he lives with his wife and their loveable pack of dogs. Let’s get to know about him and his writing a little better.

[FFM] I know that you just moved, and that you live in Texas, but can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

[JM] I'm an Army brat, which means that while I'll always call Texas my home state, I actually grew up across a variety of different places, from here to Germany, and my wide-ranging nerddom is a direct result of all the different people I met and things I experienced. I've always felt a need to tell stories, but it wasn't until I was in my early twenties that I actually applied myself to writing, and even then it wasn’t until I hit my thirties that I took it seriously. Now, at 39 (40 in December), I have one novel published, another soon to come out, two more on my plate, and several short stories that have won awards and been published. Aside from writing, I'm also the creator and co-host of the Dead Robots' Society podcast, which is a podcast made by writers, for writers. We've been at it for a bit over five years, and so far people seem to like what we do.

[FFM] Can you share with us a little about your work that is already published and anything that you are currently working on?

[JM] My first novel, HAYWIRE, was published in March of this year by Gryphonwood Press. It is a science fiction story about nanotechnology, super soldiers, space pirates, and covert operatives. I'm pretty proud of it. I tried to make it feel epic and dazzling while also keeping the characters real and their world understandable. From the reviews it's gotten, I believe I achieved that. Soon my second book will be published. This one is titled A MINOR MAGIC, and it's coming from Crescent Moon Press. It's a post-apocalyptic urban fantasy about a girl who discovers she has magical powers. The short pitch is "It's Harry Potter meets The Road." Right now I have two books I'm working on. The first is STILL WATER, a horror novel about a West Virginia coal mining town and the evil they unleash. I've completed the first draft of it, but before I go back to it I need to finish the first draft of A BROKEN MAGIC, which is a sequel to AMM. I hadn't planned on putting STILL WATER off for so long, but Crescent Moon said they were interested in a sequel to AMM, so I knew I had to put my efforts there first. A bird in the hand and all that.

[FFM] Can you tell us about your upcoming book, A BROKEN MAGIC?

[JM] I wish I could, but revealing much on it would spoil A MINOR MAGIC. As I said earlier, AMM is post-apocalyptic, which means that it takes place in a world that has been ruined. Ten years before the book begins a magical fire is unleashed on Earth that burns most of our civilization to the ground and kills billions of people. Those that survive eek out what life they can. As the book opens, our protaganist Skylar discovers that she has magical powers. This isn't seen as a good thing by the family that has adopted her, so in the book she has to make her way across a burned America while she tries to discover who she really is and why the world burned. A BROKEN MAGIC picks up several months later. Skylar has learned a great deal, but there are still forces in the world that she must contend with, and if she wants to come out on top it's going to take all she has and more. I hope that makes you want to read both books. I wrote AMM for my niece, Aleena, who's thirteen years old. I wanted her to have a heroine who wasn't defined by the men in her life, and who was capable of saving herself. I really hope she likes it.

[FFM] Lots of authors have trouble when it comes to getting published. Can you tell us about any challenges that you may have faced in getting your first book published?

[JM] My biggest challenge was trusting the woman who was my agent for a time. I believed she had my best interests at heart, and that what she said represented the truth. After nearly a year of difficulty I learned that none of it was so. When the full truth came to light, I knew that if I was going to have a career in writing, I would have to take control of my destiny and make it happen. So I did. Within a couple of months I not only had a contract for HAYWIRE, but in that same weekend I also had a contract for A MINOR MAGIC. I went from nothing to two deals in almost no time, and all of it was because I took advantage of the contacts I'd made through my podcast and worked my butt off to get my work in front of the people who could help me achieve my dreams. Do I wish I could go back and undo the whole agent mess? No. It was a learning experience, and those are invaluable. Others can learn from it too. Trust, but verify. Also, the person who wants you to succeed the most is YOU, and in today's publishing world there are more roads than ever to success. Go make your dreams happen.

[FFM] In the works that you have had published, who has designed the covers for them?

[JM] HAYWIRE's cover was designed by my brother, Scott. One of the great things about a smaller press is that the author can have more control over the book, or at least more input. The publisher informed me that they could get a cover made, or if I had someone in mind they would let that happen, though with final approval. Scott had done covers for me previously (I still think his cover to my short story series THE TIES THAT BIND is his best work), and we work well together, so I knew he could make a great HAYWIRE cover. And he did. Starla Hutchton did the cover art for my short story PIRATES OF THE CRIMSON SAND, and I love the old space opera feel of it. As for A MINOR MAGIC, Crescent Moon is in charge of that one, and I haven't seen anything yet. My fingers are crossed.

[FFM] Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

[JM] If you read a story and enjoy it, please reach out to the author and let them know. Trust me, they enjoy hearing that, especially those of us who are more recently published. Writing can all too often be a lonely, solitary activity, but knowing that what we made brought some happiness to another makes it all worth it. So tell them. Send them an email, or post a Facebook message, or even send a tweet. It never goes unappreciated. And, if you're really feeling giving, go to Amazon and post a review. People often by books based on the opinions of others, and the more people say kind things about a book, the more likely someone else is to pick it up and perhaps love it too. I've had 50 people post reviews for HAYWIRE, which is quite a bit for a smaller press book, but I'd love 50 more. When I'm feeling down or alone, reading those positive reviews rejuvenates my spirit. So reach out, let that author know how you feel, and then let the world. And, thank you for reading. There are a lot of other things you could be doing, and reading seems to be falling out of fashion. Thanks for keeping up the tradition. We writers need you out there. Thank you so so much.
If you would like to contact Justin or just keep tabs on him about his podcasts or his writing, please use the links below. Checkout HAYWIRE and his other works while your at it:

Justin Macumber - Facebook
Justin Macumber - Amazon Author Page