July Spotlight on Author Michael Hanson

Wednesday, July 01, 2009 0 Comments A+ a-

This month we have a new author spotlight and this is a hot one to enter the month of July and welcome some great summer reads.

A Writer's Dream would like to welcome author Michael H. Hanson. recently published his first volume of poetry, "Autumn Blush" (under the imprint "YaYe Books"). During the past eight years he has written and published over fifty short stories in the fantasy, horror and science fiction genres.

A transplanted New Yorker, he recently acquired dual-citizenship with his name being entered into Ireland's Foreign Births Entry Book. A haunted Sagittarian, he presently reside sin New Jersey where he edits engineering society journals for a living, and occasionally dabbles in genealogy research and collection impressionist oil paintings.

Sha'Daa: Tales of the Apocalypse is his first foray into novel-length fiction and he's stopped by to share info about his release and his entry as a speculative author.


Q: How would you describe the genre in which you do most of your writing?

Saving my Poetry (both rhyming and free verse) for another interview, my Fictional work tends to fall within the categories of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror writing. Sha’Daa: Tales of the Apocalypse might best be described as modern fantasy, and depending on the particular chapter within, urban fantasy with strong horror elements.



Q: What motivated you to start writing in this genre?

I’ve always had a fascination with the world of the fantastic. As an army brat growing up on military bases around the world (and being one of five kids in my family) I was raised in a rough and tumble environment where the familiar TV sets and TV shows in your average American house were not available to us. The local movie theatres became a second home for me and afterwards reenacting said adventures in nearby playgrounds and parks seemed like the most natural thing in the world. I’d say this encouraged me to develop a healthy imagination, one which I’ve been able to put to good use over the past couple of decades.



Q: How many books have you written so far? (Please include titles, publisher, date of publication and a brief description of the book/books.)

My first collection of poetry “Autumn Blush” was published in 2008 by YaYe Books. It contains 60 poems altogether (1 free verse and 59 rhyming poems).

I created and co-wrote “Sha’Daa: Tales of the Apocalypse,” a shared-world anthology published by Altered Dimensions Press on May 1, 2009.


My second collection of poetry “Jubilant Whispers” was just picked up by Diminuendo Press for publication in October 2009. It contains 66 poems (both free verse and rhyming) and 4 short essays.


I created and co-wrote “Sha’Daa: Last Call,” a sister book to “Sha’Daa: Tales of the Apocalypse.” Last Call will go on sale some time in 2010.



Q: What would you say has been your most significant achievement as a writer?

Right now, I would have to say it is the publication of “Sha’Daa: Tales of the Apocalypse.” This is the first of two books in a massive project where I had to coordinate the work of 15 authors, overseeing the implementation of a complex outline I had created for an epic tale that takes place over a forty-eight hour period of time in the near future. This book took five years to travel from conception to actual publication. It was a long, difficult journey that often left me depressed and apathetic at days end, however, with perseverance and hard work of many people, we were finally able to see Sha’Daa get into print. Sometimes, dreams really do come true.



Q: When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?

I suppose I fantasized about being a writer in my mid teens, as I became a big fan of science-fiction and fantasy paperbacks. I would say I started taking the prospect seriously my sophomore year of college, during a scriptwriting class I was taking at Syracuse University (I graduated in 1989). I was a film production major in the Newhouse School of Public Communications and I found a real thrill in the creation of fictional characters and make believe scenarios. At this same time I also started a long, slow parallel road to my scriptwriting (which I mostly gave up by 2000) turning out short stories as the muse hit me over the years. I’d say I took the big plunge around 1999 when my output of short fiction increased dramatically as I embraced the world of Webzines and E-Zines that had started spreading like wildfire across the world-wide web. And the rest, as they say, is history.



Q: Who would you say has influenced you the most?

Though there are many writers who entertained me greatly as a teenager, and later a young man in my twenties (Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Anne McCaffrey, A.E. van Vogt, Poul Anderson, Samuel R. Delaney, Andre Norton, Philip Jose Farmer, Keith Laumer, Robert E. Howard, Richard Matheson, Arthur C. Clarke, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Ursula Le Guin) I would have to say that it was hands down the late great ROGER ZELAZNY whose work inspired me on a regular basis. His mixing of genres, fantasy, sci-fi, and mythology, his clean prose, his lean plots and stripped down characterizations. The man’s writing sang to me. If ever I felt a moment of depression or writer’s block, I found reading one of Zelazny’s books was the jolt I needed to kick my muse back into gear. There’s nothing original about this confession, as so very many professional writers in their 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s have admitted in interviews the profound effect Zelazny’s excellent prose had on their writing careers. When Mr. Zelazny passed away unexpectedly in 1995, it was not only a shock to his family and friends, but to millions of his devoted readers and fans around the world. Roger Zelazny’s work inspired me to become a better writer.



Q: How have your personal experiences influenced the direction of your writing?

In ways both subtle and obvious. Though I never battled monsters, flew through outer space, traveled through time, field stripped a blaster in an alien army, moved between dimensions, cast curses on elves, and teleported myself over light years of distance, I have lived enough of life to appreciate and embrace the basic nature of humanity that is the backbone of any good story or book. I was married for 12 years, and then divorced. I was a cross country and track runner in high school. I served in the U.S. Air Force. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in film production. As a U.S. Army Brat (from birth to the age of ten) I lived in both Germany and Taiwan. I’ve lived long enough to witness and grieve the death of my parents, both taken much too early in life, in their 60’s (heart attack and pancreatic cancer). I spent my summers during my college years as a lifeguard and swimming instructor at summer camps. I dug the graves for two long-lived, beloved family pets (purebred dachshunds) when I was 18 and 20. My experiences are admittedly commonplace, and shared by millions, but my point is that it is the commonality of life, death, love, heartbreak, fear, pleasure, and journeying that drive the direction a story takes.


I write both poetry and fictional prose. Often, my poetry is a direct extension of what I experience and feel on a daily basis. My fiction, as outrageous as it can get in various genres, is always infused with characters that share many of the experiences, whether painful or pleasurable, that I have had throughout my life.


In one manner or another, I am my writing.



Q: Which aspects of the work that you put into the book did you find most difficult?

As creator of this shared-world anthology, probably the most strenuous act of creativity for me was conceiving and fleshing out the basic background mythology of the once every ten thousand year event known as The Sha’Daa. Certainly influenced by the works of H.P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, and many others, I found it a real challenge to step into the ring and start punching out a new and hopefully compelling take on the ancient, time-worn concept of the apocalypse.


I cannot speak for my 10 fellow authors of “Sha’Daa: Tales of the Apocalypse,” but for myself, I found the research needed to guarantee a decent level of realism to be time-consuming and tedious (but absolutely necessary). I know, you’re thinking, just how much realism does one need in a book about the end of days? Quite a bit if you want every aspect of your story and characters to be set in the real world, in well-known locales, and subject to all the rules and laws of nature and physics that we all experience on a day to day basis. The worlds of the fantastic may appear to have no boundaries or rules, however, in the end, structure, storyline, plot, and characterization demand the foundations of logic and reason. Writing good genre fiction is a challenge, one demanding exacting attention to detail.



Q: What will your next book be about?

It is a collection of 70 poems (both rhyming and free verse) titled “Jubilant Whispers.” Published by Diminuendo Press (an imprint of Cyberwizard productions) it is tentatively scheduled to go on sale in October 2009. This is my second book of poetry (the first being a limited print run hardcover titled “Autumn Blush” which contains 60 poems).


Unlike Blush, which contains poems written over a 3-4 year span of time, at least 45 of the poems in “Jubilant Whispers” where written during a six month stretch of time in 2008. In fact, many of them were work-shopped on the poetry board at Zoetrope.com, a locale where I found my verse and prose subject to intense scrutiny and critique, a grueling process that had me rewriting and polishing my work extensively. I am very proud of this collection.


You can win a copy of "Sha'Daa Tales of the Apocalypse by joining in the scavenger hunt going on now until July 4th! Click here to begin.


Check out a special half-hour live program of The Dark Fiction Show tonight (Wednesday, July 1, 2009) from 6:00 pm to 6:30 pm for a special broadcast about the "SHA'DAA Scavenger Hunt at BlogTalkRadio.com!!!


“Sha’Daa” Tales of the Apocalypse” is now available at:

CyberWizardProductions.com (Within the Altered Dimensions line)



Borders.com

BarnesAndNoble.com

And it can also be ordered from any and all bookstores.


To learn more about Michael Hanson and The Sha’Daa, visit:

http://www.shadaa.com