Today I am so pleased to welcome Mike Karpa to Joyfully Jay. Mike has come to talk to us about his latest release, Red Dot. He has also brought along a great giveaway. Please join me in giving him a big welcome!

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Mike has written some questions and answers to share with us today!


How do you choose a topic for this book?

It came about in stages. Red Dot began a long time ago as a short story set in a very dystopian world. It was further into the future, had a female lead, and the tone was angsty and gray. The lead character had the same job (delivery person), there was a best friend Cat, and romantic interest Wes was a character, but little else was the same. When I started turning that short into a novel, I realized I didn’t want to spend a whole novel’s worth of time fighting angst. I wanted something more upbeat. I changed the lead character to a guy, which made it a gay romance, which is what I like to read, being a gay man.

And as time passed, global warming became impossible to ignore (well, for some of us). So how could I write about the future without it? And yet I still wanted to keep the positive attitude. My desire to reconcile these two colliding aspects created the book.

Tell us something we don’t know about your heroes. What makes them tick?

By the end of the book, you know a lot about what makes Marty tick. But you don’t really know what he looks like. I describe other characters, but I went out of my way to not describe him physically, thinking that that would allow more people to project themselves into his life. So that’s one thing you don’t know about Mardy: he looks like you (or whatever you want him to). If you’ve seen the cover, there is a guy there. But is that Mardy? I’m not saying.

There’s also a ton you don’t know about Cat, but I can’t tell you that now, because I have started writing a sequel. The sequel focuses on Mardy’s ex, Devesh, and a third book will be all about Cat.

What was the hardest part of writing this book?

That would be when I took pages to a writing class and the leader (not the other writers) told me to stop writing it. I don’t know what his deal was. It’s my favorite book I’ve written so far. I know some readers really, really love it, and I do too, but having someone actively try to get you to stop writing a book you want to write really sucks.

What’s the core motivation in this book?

I wanted to create an upbeat, all-queer story that’s fun. These people face challenges, but I wanted the reader to always know they weren’t going to be, you know, cut into pieces or ostracized or any bad thing. I wanted the conflict to come instead from real-life issues, which may sound strange for a SciFi book, but I didn’t want it to be overtly formulaic. (Subtly formulaic is fine, heh heh.) In romances in particular, the lovers get together and then there’s some barrier to them being together. A lot of those barriers can seem forced, as when characters you’ve come to like go suddenly stupid. I didn’t want that. So, real life and happy: that was my goal. All within a world of flying cars, dancing robots and talking tech.

How would you describe your writing style/genre?

Indecisive? Note that I’m not even sure about that answer. My first novel is a comic noir set in Japan. Red Dot is sci-fi romance. I’ll be following that up with a comic novel of manners set in NYC. The one after that is YA novel about five puppies in search of their dad. Then there’s the gargantuan historical novel set in India. Then the pseudo-coming-of-age novel. I read tons of mysteries so shouldn’t I try writing one? The latest idea I had is about tribe of telepathic possums. It’s a marketing nightmare. Maybe we could say my writing style is comic and the genre nonexistent. If I can get started on sequels, though, I’ll have a clear path ahead. I have sequel ideas for all of them.

How do you deal with rejection letters?

Badly. Rejection is depressing. And when I send things out, I’m always so full of hope. I have incredibly naïve delusionary hopes that the piece I’m sending out will be the perfect match with the person who’s getting it. And of course, it generally isn’t, even when it sort of is. The magazine or agent might include a note saying how much they liked the piece—and it sounds genuine—and yet they are not taking it. “It doesn’t fit with our catalog,” is one I hear. “We all loved it but don’t know how to curate it,” is another. I don’t even know what that means. Or wait, no, I do: it means No. Then I’m devastated, and swear I’ll never submit again. Then I submit again.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

It used to spend years rewriting and perfecting things and sending them out, have them be rejected, rewrite, send that out again, lather-rinse-repeat. I finally realized that this was preventing me from writing the books I imagined writing. I’ll have to take issue with the dictum that “writing is rewriting.” Actually, writing is writing. So now I finish a draft in a month or so. Then I workshop the manuscript with my trusted writing group, and send it out to an additional person or two, tops. Yes, I rewrite based on the feedback, but then I’m done. It’s about a book a year, now, but I hope to get faster. I’d like to be doing two a year. I don’t think I’ll be able to write faster than that, but two a year could be doable for me.


red dot coverAfter the disaster of global warming, the world has gotten its act together. People are positive, sensible, and intent on creating a better future and a just present. And it’s working! So, in a world where everyone makes good decisions, what could possibly go wrong?

Well, other people. Mardy is a 26-year old gay man who dreams of being a full-time machine-tool artist. He brims with ideas, puts in the hours, and has a solid circle of friends—both fellow artists and the artificial intelligences he works with. But he’s always coming in second to another machine-tool artist at his makerspace. He’s dealing with that, thanks to the highly effective psychotherapy of the future, but then he meets his irritatingly successful rival’s twin—and falls for him hard. Consequences ensue, and fast, driving Mardy not just to pursue his artistic dreams, but to try to liberate his AI friends from servitude, and find love in the process.

Series Blurb:

Powered by art, the search for true love leads to freedom for enslaved AIs.

Buy Links:


mike karpa bio photoMike was once a woodworker in a makerspace and knows how semiconductors are made. His novels hop around between genres, dabbling in scifi (Red Dot), romance (Red Dot again), suspense (Criminals), and forthcoming in 2022, a snarky comedy of manners set in New York and Arkansas and a YA novel about five puppies in search of a dog rumored to be their dad. Eventually, a behemoth about love, war and espionage in India in the 1960s (Between Countries) will see the light of day as well.

His goal these days is to write novels for queer audiences that are entertaining rather than esoteric, upbeat rather than angsty. His more recent shorter fiction, memoir and nonfiction (some in the more angsty vein) can be found in Tin HouseFoglifterTahoma Literary ReviewOyster River Pages and other magazines.

Mike has roots in Texas and Estonia, and has lived in California, Michigan and Ohio, not to mention eight years in Asia in the early part of his life.  Now he lives in San Francisco with his husband and dog in a house soon to be celebrating its 130th birthday. Red Dot is Mike’s second book, after Criminals (2021), and is the first in a planned trilogy.


Mike is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card with this tour:

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