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Michael Tyler Intervewed By AllTheseBooks

BookHuntersBlog.com: Did you study the craft of writing or dive right into it?
Michael Tyler: I’m sad to say I barely escaped high school, so I learned to write by reading my favorite authors. I’ve been a voracious reader for as long as I can remember, with Mark Twain, Louis L’Amour, Baum, and Tolkien as some of my best and earliest friends. I’ll admit I envy those with the higher education, credentials, and experience to back their foray into the difficult world of writing. It must help in getting agents and publishing houses to give your work a look. But I don’t have those blessings, so I just stick to the basics and try to write a story my readers can enjoy and relate to.

BHB: How challenging was the transition from military to law enforcement?
MT: It was an easy transition for me. I enjoyed both immensely, and that mix of background helps me a lot with the types of stories I write.

BHB: Why did you pick North Carolina as the setting for The Vendetta?
MT: It seemed the most natural setting for the characters and story I wanted to tell. My family is from North Carolina and I consider it my home state. Also, most stories of the genre I write are set in major metropolitan areas, almost none are set in the South, so I wanted to do things a little different. I think my readers will enjoy the southern flavor.

BHB: The Vendetta is very similar to the acclaimed TV show The Shield. Was it an inspiration?
MT: No. Though I do enjoy The Shield very much, I actually wrote The Vendetta in 2000 and 2001, long before that show came out. I do wish I was the one who created that awesome show!

BHB: Many cops love The Shield, even if they can’t acknowledge it publicly. How do you like it, and if yes, what makes it so appealing?
MT: It’s a great show. While it’s true there are some exaggerations for the sake of entertainment, they’re no different from those created by fiction authors for the same purpose. Real police work is often tedious, which wouldn’t make for good television or reading. The Shield and NYPD Blue are the best police dramas I’ve seen, and I think people like them because of their gritty, harsh edges, the ugly realities they dance around–the same things I hope my readers will enjoy.

BHB: The Vendetta stands out from similar books with its authenticity in plot and dialog. Did it come naturally or did you fight not to fall into the same routine as these other books?
MT: The dialog does come naturally to me. In fact, though it is still more realistic - and harsh - I think, than most you’ll read, I admit I went back and softened it up quite a lot before it was published. I’m not sure the reading public is ready for the true level of profanity that is the common jargon of the street. After a foot-chase through some dark alley, it’s seldom, “Sir, please turn and put your hands on the wall…”, it’s “HANDS ON THE WALL, M*****F****R!” That’s just the way it is: If you don’t learn to walk the walk and talk the talk, you’re gonna have some mighty long days.

BHB: Did your extensive history in the military and law enforcement help you in the publishing process?
MT: My background helped me write realistically, but the publishing world is a whole new jungle for me, and it hasn’t been an easy jungle to navigate. Finding an agent or a publisher in these times of depressed economy, with an overabundance of aspiring authors and an under abundance of readers, is very difficult indeed.

BHB: How do you choose which real-life experience to draw inspiration from?
MT: I usually envision a scene from start to finish, and then get it on paper (laptop screen) as fast as I can. Sometimes I build upon things I’ve done or seen, or sometimes those same things I’ve done or seen allow me to build something entirely new and fictitious, while keeping the flavor of authenticity.

BHB: What do you think about the future of books with all the new technology coming out (like Kindle and foldable screens)?
MT: It’s a boring answer, but I really don’t know. I know people who love their e-books, and then there are folks like me, who need the whole dog-eared book to fall asleep with kind of thing. I love books, real books, always have, and always will, but maybe the new generations of readers will move away from my old-fashioned ideas. I hope not, but maybe.

BHB: How difficult was the publishing process for you?
MT: Writing a novel is so much easier than working your way through the publishing process. Finding an agent and/or a publisher is more difficult than I can even begin to explain. I still don’t have an agent—agents are extra hard to get, particularly if you don’t have the funds to attend writers’ conferences. And I must really suck at preparing query letters, because I’ve mailed hundreds, and still no luck. I wouldn’t be published if an editor from Archebooks hadn’t noticed something I’d written on a website and dropped me a note. If you want to be an author, my advice is to never quit. Write, write, write, and never quit. It’s that simple, and that hard.

BHB: How much of your own promotion do you do?
MT: Archebooks Publishing gives marketing advice and provides support, but is a small publishing company, so most of the work is on me. This is pretty much standard with smaller publishers, and even with larger publishing houses, the author must be heavily involved in promoting their work. I haven’t had much time or money to promote The Vendetta, I work six days a week, but thanks to BookHuntersBlog.com and AllTheseBooks.com, I’m finally getting some publicity.

BHB: Do you have any tips for aspiring authors?
MT: Persevere. Keep writing. Never quit. In fact, I believe that applies to anything and everything worth doing: never quit.

BHB: What are your future plans?
MT: I’m going to keep writing. My second rogue-cop Griffin novel should be published by Archebooks later this year, and I am working an at least three more as we speak. I’m also looking at doing some retro-crime fiction, stories from the days of prohibition, but I don’t want to give too much away just yet. And someday, when I get really brave, I might even write some nonfiction. Other than that, I’m gonna raise good kids, grow old with a good wife, read good books, write good stories, and enjoy the hell out of my life.

BHB: How do you juggle writing with the rest of your life?
MT: It’s hard, sometimes, but mostly I just don’t sleep! Hahaha. I mainly write late at night after everyone is asleep. Sometimes, I start writing and lose all track of time, only to realize I have to be up for work in a couple of hours. I usually get up at 5:30, and that’s tough when you go to bed at 3:00. And odd as it sounds, I have to have the television on when I’m writing—I need background noise. Is that strange?

BHB: Do you have any methods or rituals to your writing?
MT: Only the television thing. And the laptop. I write on my laptop while plopped in my favorite old recliner. And I try to put as much on paper as I can in one sitting, only to edit later. Otherwise, I nitpick it to death, and lose track of where I want to go with a scene or chapter.

BHB: How do you find inspiration?
MT: Oh, I think we’re all surrounded by inspiring things to write about, and I’ve had plenty of personal experiences to draw upon for fuel.

BHB: Was there one certain event or happening that made you want to write a book?
MT: Not so much one thing, but I would read great books and think about writing my own, or I’d read a not-so-great story and think, “I could do better than this.” So I gave it a shot.

BHB: What do you do against writer’s block?
MT: I haven’t had that problem yet, though I can sometimes get caught up in editing and find myself working and re-working a sentence or paragraph for days.

BHB: Do you use an outline when writing? Do you stay linear or do you skip in time?
MT: I do a very rough outline, but detailed character sketches, and though I usually stay linear, I have no problem skipping ahead or even backwards if I see where something needs to be and it’s fresh in my head.

BHB: How difficult was it to get an agent?
MT: Very, very difficult. More difficult than writing the book, by far. I must not be very good at representing my work, because no agent for me, just yet. I’ll admit I’m tired of looking. The book market is so soft and the costs and financial risks so high for the publishers that they tend to stay with proven writers, which is understandable. I envision the relationship between writer and agent as a marriage, of sorts, and sooner or later I’ll find the right agent, or the right agent will find me. I do think my unorthodox style of writing tends to put most agents off, but I’ll bet Stephen King and James Lee Burke had the same problems, so I’m in good company.

BHB: How important is a good website and do you utilize blogging?
MT: I only recently started both my website http://www.authormichaeltyler.com, http://www.myspace.com/MichaelTyler1234 and blogging, so I’ll have to get back to you on that. But I do hope folks will stop by the website, say hello, and talk books with me. I will respond to their questions and comments as promptly as I can.

BHB: What do you prefer and why: Mass-market paperback or hard cover for your debut novel?
MT: The Vendetta is still in hard cover, but I must admit that if I had my druthers, it would be a paperback. I don’t have a ton of money, few of us do, so the only hard covers I usually buy are those by my favorite authors. I feel like folks who spend twenty-five bucks on my book are making a real investment in a new author, and I appreciate that, but I’d be happier and I think I’d sell more books if they only had to spend five or six dollars for a paperback–less risk of buying a lemon for them, more exposure for me. I do think I will eventually have a solid group of readers who enjoy my offbeat way of telling a story, but only time will tell.

BHB: What are the most difficult and rewarding aspects of being a published writer?
MT: It is difficult not to be able to invest more time and money into promotions. I should schedule book signings, deliver complimentary copies of books to libraries and bookstores, and attend writers’ conferences, but it’s hard when I have one day off a week. I feel guilty if I don’t spend that one day with my family and/or catching up on the chores I miss all week–I live in Ohio, where mowing is a sport, and if you fall behind you’re off the home team! As far as rewarding, I’m sure I’ve spent more money than I’ve made, so the financial side is out, but for me, the fact that I followed through with what I started, that I finished my first book and saw it in print…that’s my reward, and it’s great.

Thank you very much for this opportunity, and best of luck with your career!

About AllTheseBooks

Marius Menzel is the webmaster of BookHuntersBlog.com and AllTheseBooks.com. His wife Mary is in charge of the reviews, since reading has been her life for 40 years.

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