I spoke to author Myke Cole ahead of the publication of his new novel, Gemini Cell.
I was first introduced to Cole at Fantasy Faction’s Grim Gathering last August, where his no-nonsense attitude both impressed and encouraged me. ‘The sea doesn’t care about you’, he said, and you should do what scares you. Lessons we can all take to heart.
After such a brilliant event, I picked up the first book in the Shadow Ops series, Control Point. Described by Peter V Brett as ‘Black Hawk Down meets the X-Men’, Cole’s books are packed with action from the very first page.
Across the country and in every nation, people are waking up with magical talents. Untrained and panicked, they summon storms, raise the dead, and set everything they touch ablaze.
Army officer Oscar Britton sees the worst of it. A lieutenant attached to the military’s Supernatural Operations Corps, his mission is to bring order to a world gone mad. Then he abruptly manifests a rare and prohibited magical power, transforming him overnight from government agent to public enemy number one.
The SOC knows how to handle this kind of situation: hunt him down–and take him out. Driven into an underground shadow world, Britton is about to learn that magic has changed all the rules he’s ever known, and that his life isn’t the only thing he’s fighting for.
As a security contractor, government civilian and military officer, Cole’s career has run the gamut from Counter-terrorism to Cyber Warfare to Federal Law Enforcement. He’s done three tours in Iraq and was recalled to serve during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. He turned his hand to writing, and published his first novel in 2012.
Cole was inspired to become a writer through reading the work of others.
My first exposure to fantasy was 1st edition D&D, which was my first experience in imaginative storytelling and my absolute earliest influence. Old pen and paper role-playing games are all text-based, so I learned to imagine through text. Reading was the natural outgrowth of that, and writing, as I matured and wanted to create as well as consume. By the time I was old enough to decide what I wanted to do with myself, writing was the thing I was already good at (well, better than other things). When you’re good at something, it’s more fun to do, so I kind of had a natural momentum going. That doesn’t mean that it wasn’t hard (damn near impossible) to go pro, though. No amount of momentum can get you over that hump. Only grit can do it.
His ideas come to him through hard work, not from a naturally occurring ideas-well that writers dip into.
It doesn’t work like that. Writers don’t get ideas. We *make* ideas. We sit down and work at them and come up with them. It’s a kind of enforced creativity. It’s disciplined. It’s hard work. When writers tell me that they don’t have any ideas, I don’t think that a well has run dry, I think that they’re not working hard enough.
Cole’s advice to aspiring writers is to focus on writing.
When I tried to get published, I didn’t. When I tried to write an amazing novel, I got published. Focus on your craft. Everything else is window dressing.
Your career is YOUR career, he says. You have to work hard at promoting your own work.
Anything your publisher does to promote you is a bonus, but you should expect nothing. YOU are your own publicist. YOU are your own social media marketer and con presenter. It’s YOUR ship and you are in charge of everything about it.
Cole’s latest military fantasy novel, Gemini Cell, was published on January 27th 2015.
This takes place in the same universe as my SHADOW OPS series (CONTROL POINT, FORTRESS FRONTIER, BREACH ZONE), but it takes place many years earlier and is a whole new storyline with new characters. The goal is to give new readers an entry-point into my universe, without making them read the trilogy first. Fans of the original series will have enough familiar touchstones to feel at home.
He’s also written a medieval dark-fantasy called The Fractured Girl, which is currently with his agent.
I’m hoping they’ll be willing to take it out to market soon.
Cole is currently reading Christopher Golden’s Snowblind.
It’s a fabulous survival/supernatural horror novel by an acknowledged master of the medium. Next up is Mark Lawrence’s THE LIAR’S KEY, book II in his RED QUEEN’S WAR series. Mark Lawrence is one of the best new voices in modern fantasy and his dark, gritty tone is a huge influence in my own work. Both writers are definitely worth checking out.