Interview with Mike Robinson, author of THE PRINCE OF EARTH

POE cover

Questions for Mike Robinson:

 

 

Devon Ellington:  What was the genesis of this book?

 

Mike Robinson:  Subconsciously, The Prince of Earth has been long in coming. I first read of the lore — or phenomenon — that inspired it when I was 13, and for years thereafter produced stillborn stories about this ‘Big Gray Man’ of the supposedly haunted peak Ben MacDui, located in the Scottish Highlands. The idea, whatever it might be, lay dormant throughout my early writing career, as I busied myself with other manuscripts. Then, not long after reading Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian, I had an urge to create a very atmospheric story, with a downright creepy antagonist, something I’d never really had in any prior book. Like eddying mist, the legends of the Big Gray Man came wafting back into my head, and so thematically and location-wise I was set. I still had to figure out where I was going, however — and I’d do that by diving in and writing the book.

DE:  How did you choose which places to include?

MR: Given the origin of the Big Gray Man legend, that portion of the book naturally had to be set in Scotland, whose lonely, misty highlands provide a fantastically eerie backdrop for surreal horror. Having been to similar areas in England and Wales, and having stood atop those wind-whipped peaks, I felt I could make it quite authentic, and visceral. The other featured locations, rural New York and Los Angeles, are also drawn from real-life familiarity. I’m actually from Los Angeles.

 

DE:  Where there any episodes you decided to delete?  How did you make those decisions?

MR:  In editing a manuscript, necessary deletions for me have always made themselves starkly visible, especially after some time has passed. Anything that makes you shake your head at yourself has obviously gotta go. “This runs on way too long”, or “Wow, I can say this in one sentence in lieu of four”, or, sometimes even, “What the hell was I talking about?” In The Prince of Earth, I didn’t cut any specific episode as much as I cut extraneous passages. In all, I probably slashed a good chapter’s worth of material from the whole manuscript. It’s very cathartic to highlight that textual lard and strike “Delete”. Ah…so much cleaner.

 

 

DE:  Do you enjoy moving between short fiction and long fiction?  Do you prefer one or the other?

MR: I enjoy both, though I like the emotional investment of novels, and the high sense of accomplishment on completing a tangible draft: suddenly, this massive world of yours exists. My short stories tend to be high concept, or idea-based, while my novels are more psychological, more character-oriented.  I’m grateful I don’t have Stephen King’s problem of wanting to turn every short story into a novel — with a single exception, when an idea hits me, I know whether it wants to be short or long.

 

DE:  What are you working on now?

MR: I just finished the first draft of Book One of an admittedly ambitious science-fantasy called Knights Immortal, whose two books altogether span humanity’s prehistoric past and technological future. I’m also just beginning the early stages of collaboration with bestselling author Aiden James, on the third installment of his Talisman Chronicles.

 

I have another novel, Negative Space, due out August 17th, also from Curiosity Quills Press. It’s probably one of the less-classifiable novels I’ve done. It’s a thriller, it’s philosophical, and it’s about modern art, among other things. But I love the interstitial stuff.

 

 

EXCERPT:

 

The wilderness began only feet beyond Ballater. As soon as she reached the other side of the bridge, Quincy felt as though she’d entered some kind of portal. Something thrived out here, something she hadn’t felt before even during recent travels: an unseen, extra dimension to everything, time itself having become snared and congealed in this tight wood-web. She could feel it everywhere far and immediate, felt it beneath her soles, could taste its ancient flavor on the wind that chilled her skin.

For several hundred yards, she followed the gray flow of the Dee until the flanking broadleaf and pine trees grew in numbers and gradually led her away from all sights and sounds of the river and Ballater. Soon, there were only the dark Caledonian branches scrawled against the wet sheet of clouds.

There doesn’t seem to be anyone else out here.

It’s reserved for you and for you only.

Lover-ly.

The mist was bunched-up, a ghostly-gray impression of the foliage. Quincy increased her pace but made an effort to notice all this around her, this ancient eerie beauty she, for a long time, might not see again in person. Somewhere in her memory the Child knocked elbow and fist to be released, to play Hobbit, to play Knight, to engage The Quest.

Almost an hour into the forest, the trail lost distinction though there was steady enough clearing to press on. To both sides the woods drew long and dense, cutting into slivers the pale light from the murky glaucoma sky.

She wanted to leave the forest well behind her in time for her first night out in the Cairngorms. This wouldn’t be difficult, though it did extend farther than she expected.

Quincy alighted on a large boulder, rested and took two gulps of water. Hunger squirmed deep within but she was still too keyed up, still too apprehensive, to eat.

In the silence of these woods, the motion of anything else was downright loud, and she turned instantly at the hasty crackling approach of a large creature that had taken off at full speed. She watched the graceful cursive of this thing as it bounded through the trees, its blurred shadow-form a connective ribbon across the trunks. She thought there might be more but there was only one, and the lone deer stopped on the other edge of the haggard trail not fifty yards from her, trying to compose itself though fear persisted in its sad jeweled eyes and jittering muscles.

What spooked it?

Quincy turned again in the direction from which it’d come but there was nothing. Or the appearance of nothing—the trees were apt conspirators. She understood the phenomenon of panicking in the woods—the arresting terror of an unknown source—because it twitched in her now, as it had in the deer.

And, of course, it wasn’t just the woods. Mountaineers, in open expanse, had known such a soul-deep paralysis. They were bad memories evolution had buried far but never thrown away, perhaps.

Perhaps.

Quincy slipped from the rock and the deer took off again, its sight lost long before its sounds. After the sounds died, Quincy’s loneliness grew, as did the stirrings of panic, but she kept focused as she pressed on. In time, the trees became fewer and fewer, giving way to larger quantities of mountain willow scrub and long whispering grass, the earth itself on marked ascent towards the further vast tundra of the naked highlands.

 

 *

 

Uphill for a stretch, the terrain eventually flattened some, and the valley extended before her in a great yawning bowl. The pass was a cold vast swath stretching into blue mists beyond which lay things ancient even to prehistory, and it was flanked by massive peaks sweeping up like a stone tide, an earthen wave parted to biblical proportions. Rocks dotted the ground between the yellow wind-slanted grass.

The solitude was thrilling and terrifying.

She walked until dusk.

 

 

BIO:

 

Mike Robinson has been writing since age 7, when his story Aliens In My Backyard! became a runaway bestseller, topping international charts (or maybe that was also just a product of his imagination).

He has since published fiction in a dozen magazines, literary anthologies and podcasts. His debut novel, Skunk Ape Semester, released by Solstice Publishing, was a Finalist in the 2012 Next Generation Indie Book Awards.

Currently he’s the managing editor of Literary Landscapes, the official magazine of the Greater Los Angeles Writers Society (glaws.org). His supernatural mystery novel The Green-Eyed Monster was published in 2012 by Curiosity Quills Press, followed up by the newly-released horror novel, The Prince of Earth.

 

BUY LINKS:

Mike Robinson’s Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/Mike-Robinson/e/B009RDLX7K/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

 

The Prince of Earth

Amazon

http://www.amazon.com/The-Prince-of-Earth-ebook/dp/B00BDG7E86/ref=la_B009RDLX7K_1_1_title_1_kin?ie=UTF8&qid=1361071017&sr=1-1

Barnes & Noble

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-prince-of-earth-mike-robinson/1114481113?ean=2940016280332

 

Skunk Ape Semester

Amazon

http://www.amazon.com/Skunk-Ape-Semester-ebook/dp/B0076S5TH8/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1361070977&sr=1-1&keywords=skunk+ape+semester

Barnes & Noble

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/skunk-ape-semester-mike-robinson/1110471884?ean=2940014718097

Audible

http://www.audible.com/pd/ref=sr_1_1?asin=B00B1DJQOQ&qid=1361071216&sr=1-1

 

 

The Green-Eyed Monster

Amazon

http://www.amazon.com/The-Green-Eyed-Monster-ebook/dp/B009VI6YFM?SubscriptionId=AKIAIBH5FS2SQX4DCCJQ&tag=curioquill-20&linkCode=xm2&camp=2025&creative=165953&creativeASIN=B009VI6YFM

Barnes & Noble

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-green-eyed-monster-tides-of-chaos-book-1-michael-robinson/1017479292?ean=9781620071052

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guest Colin Galbraith: Half Way to A Winner — How I Kept the Same Book Selling

Today’s guest is Colin Galbraith, who tells us how FRINGE FANTASTIC came about and how, years later, it still not only sells, but positively affects his writing career. Thanks, Colin!

Half Way To A Winner
How I Kept The Same Book Selling

by Colin Galbraith

I first came to live in Edinburgh way back in the misty and long forgotten year of 1998. It was a long but memorable year: Bill Clinton was impeached, the Good Friday Agreement was signed, Dana International became the first transsexual to win the Eurovision Song Contest, Google was officially formed, France won the World Cup, Germany won the most Gold medals at the Winter Olympics, Armageddon was the highest grossing movie, Frank Sinatra died and little known Scottish writer, Colin Galbraith, had an idea for a book of poetry.

The idea was a basic one but it was one that would end up having repercussions from the day it came to be published in December 2005, through the course of the following five years. The fact it all happened quite by accident is neither here nor there, but how it happened and what transpired as a result, is something that can be repeated over and over given the right set of circumstances. Let me explain.

Here’s the original premise for Fringe Fantastic: a collection of poetry that encapsulates the spirit and magic of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. It was as simple as that, and as the new boy in town with a bursting enthusiasm to write a book of poetry with a strong theme, it was the perfect choice to be my first chapbook.

Thoroughly inspired by a creative writing course and a couple of short story publications, I finally got to work in the summer of 2005. Much of the research involved getting out and about, which during Festival time in Edinburgh makes for a unique and often thrilling experience. The city becomes a massive cauldron of the odd, the funny, the artistic and the colourful. How then, could a poet possibly fail?

The writing of Fringe Fantastic also led to a few nights out and subsequent visits to several pubs around town. Who said writing was a solitary profession? I kept writing and within three weeks had more poems about the Fringe than I knew what to do with.

Over the next three months the book was assembled; poems selected, photographs inserted, layout decided, and a photographer picked to take the shots for the front and back covers. The book was produced and released to the world on 2nd December, 2005. Voila! I prepared to be bowled over by a mad rush of Scottish poetry readers eager to buy the book.

Except they never came and there was no selling spree. It was then I realised that mere press releases to online venues wouldn’t reach my target readership, and that getting attention in the local Press was harder than I ever imagined. There was only one thing for it: I had to get out onto the streets and sell the book myself.

Over the course of the following year I laid out more leaflets, fliers and posters around Edinburgh, Glasgow, Paisley and any other town or city I happened to be passing through, than trees were being grown in the surrounding fields of East Lothian. But other than sales to friends and family, the book just wasn’t taking off the way I’d hoped.

It wasn’t until the Fringe Festival came around again in 2006 did I realise the mistake I’d made: I didn’t actually know what my target readership was. I took to the streets again, handing out fliers whilst clutching a bag of books and selling them to anyone that showed any interest. The book started to sell. I began working the queues for Fringe shows to promote and sell the book, the queue for the Royal Military Tattoo at Edinburgh Castle in particular, I found to be particularly responsive.

I quickly realised that tourists formed the main readership of Fringe Fantastic. In Scotland, interest was hard to generate—I was just another wannabe poet with some self-published books to sell—but to the tourist I was offering something unique, something special and different that they could take back home when they left (signed, of course) to remember their holiday by.

Tourists come to Edinburgh every year and in August the population of the city doubles. In book terms this can be seen as half a million new potential readers of Fringe Fantastic every year arriving on my door step. Bingo!

As sales started to increase another strange thing happened. Suddenly I had credibility; suddenly I was a bit of a story. The Guardian and Sunday Herald newspapers both picked me up, as did The Leither and Scotland magazines. A circular effect on promotion had unwittingly been established; sales meant free advertising, which in turn meant more sales. Add a couple of follow-up chapbooks into the equation and all of a sudden I was a book seller.

Five years on and Fringe Fantastic still follows the same regular pattern of sales. Between September and June sales are slow, then in July and August when the tourists hit town, sales rocket. In 2010 I sold almost all of my books online, which I can only attribute to that circular effect of promotion, but the other side effect I’ve seen has been on my other books that have started to trend in line with Fringe Fantastic‘s ups and downs; all beneficiaries of the link between the worldwide phenomena that is the Edinburgh Festival and literature.

I never knew it at the time but it was a great marketing strategy. I’d stumbled into it but the secret is clear to me now: write a book you can connect to an event or place with which you are closely connected, and you are half way to a winner. Sell the book no matter what you have to do—embarrass yourself, don’t be afraid—because with sales comes credibility and with credibility comes attention.

Bio:
Colin Galbraith is the author of several works of fiction and collections of poetry. Based in Edinburgh, he is a lover of the alternative side of Scottish life, rabbits, cheese and quaffing. Galbraith is an accomplished fake faller. Read more about him here: www.colingalbraith.co.uk

Personal signed copies of Fringe Fantastic can be ordered here.

Fringe Fantastic can be purchased direct from the publisher here.