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An Interview with Mike Speegle: Author of Something Greater Than Artifice
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Mike Speegle about the writing of his newest book, Something Greater Than Artifice, which has already been turned into a graphic novel, a stage play and has been musically inspirational as well.
I "met" this witty and talented writer by way of one of his blog posts, 20 Popular Book Genres in 140 Characters or Fewer. If you're a writer, definitely check it out. It's hilarious.
If you're a reader, I think you'll like that post too and you'll definitely want to know more about his two books. The following Q & A should provide you with all of the information you need. Enjoy!
Interview with Mike Speegle
by Robin Svedi
Describe your newest book Something Greater Than Artifice using only 6 words.
Cyberpunk indie web polemic with warhammers! (I might have cheated a little there)
How did the idea for this Dystopian cyberpunk story come to you? In a dream? Nightmare? Some other way?
Ha! Actually, some very real life, nightmarish stuff inspired Something Greater than Artifice. The web used to be way more free and open but has been falling victim to siloization, which basically just means that big entities have been snapping up innovation and forcing you to do things their way. SGtA explores those issues on both an interpersonal and informational level, addressing the current state of societal disconnectedness that allows silos to spring up in the first place.
Plus, you know, I wanted to include an ass-kicking cellist and a warhammer-wielding farmer.
The story behind this book is fascinating. Your novel has been turned into a stage play, a graphic novel and even inspired songs. Would you mind talking about how all of this came about?
Last year, a buddy of mine named Adam Brault approached me and asked me if I could write a play for a tech conference he was throwing in October. Nothing crazy, just something to keep the audience engaged between speeches. I acquiesced, but only after he agreed to give me enough leeway to write a novel to introduce the play.
Skip forward a couple months, and we found ourselves sending a serialized version of the novel to all the registered RealtimeConf participants. It introduced them to the SGtA universe, the characters, the setting (a place called The Greater Tech Republic located where Portland used to be hundreds of years previous) and left off on a serious cliffhanger. Then, when the participants arrived, they lived out the denouement off the novel in real time.
Somehow I ended up starring in the damned thing as Chairman Mikhail, a kind of overly verbose Greek chorus type. Lucky for me I was offset by folks like Alana Henderson (an Irish cellist/soap opera star who herself was on David Letterman just this week) who not only starred in the play but also wrote a haunting song based upon the text. Which is never minding the fact that every time we came up with another idea to make the story more accessible, no one shot us down. So we added an audio book narrated by the very Irish Paul Campbell and a graphic novel illustrated by the super-talented Jaime Robles.
But beyond the singularity of the experience, I actually managed to finish the book as a whole, thus allowing it to live as a separate entity from the con. And as it turned out, Jaime did the same thing with the comic. The next edition of it is set to come out this month, with another year’s worth of material in the offing.
You released the first half of the novel online in sections. Was the story complete before you began posting it or was it written in sections as well? If you were to start all over, would you write it in the same way?
I wrote it all at once, but I had no idea how the novel was really going to end when I serialized the first half. There was the play, which took place at the con and wrapped the story up, but I never intended have the two sync wholly with one another. There are things that work on the stage and in real life, and then there are things that work on the page. And since they’re not always the same, I let the story take me where it wanted. There aren’t a lot of huge differences, but enough to keep the novel interesting for folks who were there and saw how things panned out.
Overall, though, I would do it the same way, given my druthers. It’s not every day you get to turn the artistic process on its head. May as well enjoy it.
I understand you write all of your first drafts using a typewriter and a fountain pen. After reading the story at your site, I get the typewriter but the fountain pen remains a mystery to me. Why not just use a regular ball point?
I am cursed with these big, meaty hands. Football player hands. Coal miner hands. I destroy pencils and notebooks with all the aplomb of Lenny patting a bunny. So a few years ago a professor of mine (who was probably sick of the page-denting scrawl that I tried to pawn off as handwriting) actually gave me a Pilot Varsity (a disposable fountain pen) and told me to use it for the remainder of the semester, warning me that if I pressed too hard I would break the damn thing and be forever without a writing implement. She was determined to teach me the value of deliberate action, I think. That, or she was sick of how many times I walked over to the pencil sharpener.
Years later, my handwriting hasn’t improved, but I have learned the value of having a light(er) touch.
How are you spending your writing time now that Something Greater Than Artifice is published? Can we look forward to another book anytime soon?
Oh, you can definitely expect more. I am currently shopping my postmodern heist novel, Chet Masters is Alarming, and am about halfway through a sequel to my short story collection, Pen and Platen (which incidentally includes a couple of stories from within the SGtA universe). I also have a beat of a horror tome I hope to start shopping around later this year.
Mike Speegle Online
More from Mike Speegle
Mike has also written a collection of short stories, Pen and Platen: Short Stories Written the Long Way.
The book has been described as "all killer, no filler." Intrigued? Go check it out.
So what did you think?
Will you be reading Mike Speegle's new novel? Share your thoughts and comments about this interview or the book Something Greater Than Artifice here in the comments below.