I’m excited to welcome back Michael R. Fletcher to Bookwraiths for a short Q&A. (Yeah, he actually agreed to do this twice, dude.) Definitely, I could go on and on about what a cool guy he is, what an amazing writer, but since I know everyone would rather just read the interview already, I’m turning it over to the Master of Madness himself: Michael R. Fletcher.
Sum up Manifest Delusions in as few words as possible?
Crazy! Ha! One word! Dammit I just used more words bragging about my one word answer. No point in stopping now. The base idea is that reality is responsive to the beliefs of humanity, and crazy people can believe insane things and are thus powerful.
Why will readers (hopefully) love these insane shites?
My goal is to put the reader right inside the head of all kinds of crazy people. You might not like them all, but—if I did it right—you’ll at least understand them.
You’ve said you were surprised Beyond Redemption was ever published, so did it surprise you when so many reviewers and readers fell in love with this world of insane shites?
Yes! I mean, what the hells is wrong with you people!? This is a cast of irredeemable reprobates. The most likeable character is a sociopath and the rest are much worse. And quite possibly the worst, most violent character (Stehlen), is also the one people most like and relate to. That’s crazy! She’s a psychotic murderer!
After BR’s release, was there any one moment when you realized you’d really hit a cord among grimdark fans with your story?
When folks started referring to BEYOND REDEMPTION as the grimdarkest of the grimdark, and true grimdark, I realized I’d found my people. They understood the story for what it was, weren’t upset by the terrible cast of characters, and saw deeper than the surface violence. It was a slow burn rather than an over night thing.
Do you have any favorite music to write by?
Yeah, I’m a total metalhead. I can’t be too heavy.
Favorite musical acts: all-time and current?
The single most important band in all the world is Iron Maiden, and the Piece of Mind album is the pinnacle. That said, these days my tastes run a little heavier. My favourites change weekly. These days I’m listening to a lot of Sylosis, Fleshgod Apocalypse, and Rotting Christ.
Are Bedeckt, Stehlen, or Wichtig based on real life people? Are they still in prison?
Wichtig is very much based on someone I knew quite well. Much of his sociopathic self-serving dialogue was taken verbatim from conversations we had. The others are dreamed up and not at all based on my own issues.
I have to ask, what is up with all the German sounding names?
When I wrote the book I really didn’t think it would ever sell. I figured a half dozen of my closest friends would be the only folks to ever read it. Since none of them speak German, I used that language to hide little Easter eggs in the names. Also, I like the way the language sounds, and it helped distance the story from the typical Anglo-centric fantasy.
I have read that your next book is set in the same world but in a different local, so is there any chance of returning to this cast of characters in the future?
It’s definitely a possibility. I’d be awfully surprised if I wasn’t sucked back into that world of filth and chaos. Right now, however, I have to focus on my new project. It’s still dark fantasy, but taking place in a new world and with a new magic system. It’s pretty fucked up.
Are your delusions currently manifesting, or are you still taking your medications?
I’m self-medicating with whiskey. For the most part it works.
Favorite movie: all-time and current?
The original Star Wars was hugely influential for me. More recently…I’d have to say Fight Club. Once I decided I wanted to be a writer (total dumbass decision by the way) I gave up most of life’s distractions. The only movies I watch these days are the one I see with my six year old daughter. Megamind was pretty good.
Best advice you’ve received from other authors since Beyond Redemption was published?
Don’t write the sequel until there is demand for it.
Last book you actually had time to read, and did you enjoy it?
The last truly awesome book I read was The Mermaid’s Tale by Den Valdron. It was released by a Canadian micropress and is frankly stunning.
Is there a map of the world of Manifest Delusions? I mean, you know that is a requirement.
Yep! I’m pretty sure I included it in The Mirror’s Truth. It’s also available on the Manifest Delusions wiki: www.michaelrfletcher.com/beyondwiki
Having self-published The Mirror’s Truth, what did you learn about self-publishing world?
It’s a lot of work, and it’s really expensive! You have two options, release sloppy crap or release polished product that will probably never earn back what it cost to put out. Ok. I exaggerate. But not by much. If The Mirror’s Truth earns back what I spent on it, I’ll be stunned. Next time I’m doing the cover art and typography myself…with a crayon!
Musicians or authors: who has better fans?
While I played in a goth metal band for a little over a decade, I never really had fans. At least none that talked to me. As a writer I interact with folks every day through facebook and twitter and whatnot. It’s amazing. Since BR was released in June of 2015, I’ve only had two people where I thought, this person ain’t quite right. Fantasy fans are awesome. Their love of the genre and veiled death threats are all that keep me writing.
Obviously, you interact with lots of people in social media and elsewhere when promoting a book, so have you had any funny experiences that stick out in your mind?
Well there was all those naked pictures you were sending for a while. What happened? Why did you stop?
How does it make you feel when your books are mentioned right up with some of the best grimdarks in the field?
It’s funny, you have a book published by the likes of Harper Voyager and all of a sudden people think you’re this professional writer. I’m just some schlep. I’m a fan who somehow managed to get published. The best part of being published is getting to hobnob with real writers and pretend I’m one of them.
And it feels amazing! Getting mentioned alongside the likes of Mark Lawrence, Daniel Polansky, Django Wexler, and Anthony Ryan is a dream come true. These are my favourite writers!
What projects should your fans be eagerly awaiting?
There’s this new series coming out in 2017 called Empires of Dust by Anna Smith-Spark. The first book is The Court of Broken Knives. Seriously worth grabbing. Er…the book I mean. And then, if you have some money left over, get Swarm and Steel. It takes place in the World of Manifest Delusions but with a new cast of characters. Apparently hardcover preorders are already set up.
Michael R. Fletcher lives in the endless suburban sprawl north of Toronto with his wife and daughter. He dreams of trees and someday once again being able to see the stars at night. He used to do sound for bands in dark clubs where the air was blue with cigarette smoke. He used to record bands in dank basements where things crawled across your feet and swam in your coffee. For a while he was a Project Manager. Now he writes books. Next he wants to be a either race car driver or a ninja.
John Anthony Di Giovanni: http://www.jadillustrated.com/