Today I am so pleased to welcome Michael G. Williams to Joyfully Jay. Michael has come to talk to us about his latest release, New Life in Autumn. He has also brought along a great giveaway. Please join me in giving him a big welcome!
Michael has written some questions and answers to share with us today!
How would you describe your writing style/genre?
Mostly I tell people I write horror, science fiction, and urban fantasy, but when I do I mean I’m kind of writing all three at once! My sci fi always has elements of horror in it. My horror is always a little bit abstract and always about the monsters rather than people encountering monsters in their otherwise recognizably realistic lives. My urban fantasy has elements of both. I think any genre category might fit as long as it has room for distressing and creative ideas. Sadly, the bookstore never seems to have a section labeled “distressing and creative.”
I tried to get an agent many years ago using my first book, a suburban horror story about a vampire at a meeting of his HOA, and every response I got was some variation on, “This is great, but no store would know where to shelve it.” The pigeonholes of genre are obviously a great good for readers who want to be able to find books they’ll enjoy. They can also be constricting when it comes to creativity on the part of the writer.
What do you do when you get writer’s block?
My go-to solution is always to take two characters from my current work in progress and start a conversation between them. Maybe it’s about what’s happening at the moment in the book, maybe not. That doesn’t actually matter very much. Some of my favorite scenes I’ve written were two characters having a quiet conversation about something awful that’s happened to them. Those are the moments when the characters start opening up to me about what they really care about, and that tells me what needs to happen next. Readers also love those moments, because the characters are opening up to them as well.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
I do! I know we’re not supposed to–almost every writer friend I have claims they don’t–but I always do. I check periodically for new ratings and reviews on Amazon or on Goodreads. When someone didn’t like a book that doesn’t really bother me. Sometimes I do think maybe they missed the point, or maybe they misread the book itself (I’ve once or twice seen reviews where the reader clearly did in fact skip part of the book or didn’t absorb some element of the plot), but more often than not it indicates something was wrong with the marketing. I’ve heard from readers who, on the basis of a blurb or another review, for instance, expected more or less of a given element–romance, or suspense, or even comedy–and were (rightly) disappointed when those apparent promises weren’t kept. Good book reviews are validating as all hell, quite frankly, and are absolutely what keep me writing. In fact, in the Acknowledgements for New Life in Autumn I talk about the way winning the Manly Wade Wellman Award for its predecessor, A Fall in Autumn, kept me writing at a time when I was ready to give up. But critical reviews are also valuable, and I’m still flattered the person cared enough to say something about the book even. That person gave me the gift of their time and attention by reading it and then again by reviewing it, and I hope I’m always grateful for that.
Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?
I write in the genres I most enjoyed as a kid, and as a writer I’m basically a kid at play. Elements of one genre or another are kind of like different LEGO bricks, and I love to try to break down the kinds of stories I loved as a child, see how they were put together, and then have the fun of building my own. And in the same way you can use a given LEGO set to build the castle on the box, sure, but also you can use it to build a spaceship, I tend to see those elements of genre as something I can mix and match and enjoy even more.
In terms of balancing the genres I write, I tend to write books for each of them in a cycle: I write a horror novel, then I write an urban fantasy novel, then I write a sci fi novel, then I write a horror novel, and so on. It helps me break out of the old story to switch genres for the next one, and it keeps me from getting bored. I was diagnosed with ADHD as an adult and it explains a lot about my childhood and about my creative career. I get tremendously bored if I feel “trapped” in a genre.
Do you use a pseudonym? If so, why? If not, why not?
I do not, and I so wish I did! Gods, why did I use my real name when writing? My real name is so generic. I’m not even the only Michael G. Williams at my veterinarian’s office! Really! But at the time I published my first book I didn’t know if there were legal requirements or ramifications there. I was completely new to the idea of publishing, and my first book was self-published on a dare (literally, a friend dared me to publish it after years of hearing me talk about writing and doing nothing with what I wrote). I had no idea what I was doing, I couldn’t afford an hour with an attorney to ask how or why I should choose to use my real name or a pseudonym, and I was deeply worried that if I published under another name someone else could simply claim to be me. If I had it to do over again, I’d absolutely go back in time and make myself use a more distinctive name.
What are you working on now, and when can we expect it?
Next up is the fourth (and final?) book in my urban fantasy time travel series. That series features modern-day queer witches in San Francisco summoning up the very real historical figure of Emperor Norton, that city’s greatest eccentric, and sending him tripping through time as they fight a demon of real estate.
I’m also currently writing an Appalachian-set cosmic horror novel about a haunted house and family trauma and what to do when the life the main character has escaped tries to pull him back in with the lure of family tragedy. Despite that description, I also happen to think it’s a very funny book! The main character is a sharp-tongued old queen who’s very wounded inside. In a lot of ways he’s a very courageous character, which is good because he’s going to be facing down unimaginable horrors.
And after that, of course, is the third book in the Autumn series!
THE HARDEST PART OF DYING IS DECIDING HOW TO PASS THE TIME
Valerius Bakhoum died and kept no living. Now he can walk the streets of his city with a new face and a new name and finally feel a little bit respected. Too bad he’s still flat broke and behind on the rent. Unsure what to do with himself—and perhaps even of who he is—Valerius resumes his career as a detective by taking up the oldest case in his files: where do the children go?
Throughout his own youth on the streets of Autumn, last of the Great Flying Cities, Valerius knew his fellow runaways disappear from back alleys and other hiding places more than people realize. Street kids even have a myth to explain it: the Gotchas, who steal them away in the night. With nothing but time on his hands, Valerius dives in head-first to settle the question once and for all and runs smack into a more pressing mystery:
Who killed one of Valerius’ former lovers?
And do they know he’s still alive?
Return to the mean streets of Autumn by Valerius Bakhoum’s side as he shines a light into shadowy corners and finds secrets both sacred and profane with shockingly personal connections to who he was—and who he might become.
Warnings: This book does involve mild violence, capture and impending torture by antagonists, and discussion of the murder of children.
Universal Buy Link: https://www.limfic.com/book/35692/
Michael G. Williams writes queer-themed science fiction, urban fantasy, and horror celebrating monsters, macabre humor, and subverted expectations. He’s the author of three series for Falstaff Books: the award-winning vampire/urban fantasy series The Withrow Chronicles; the thrilling urban fantasy series SERVANT/SOVEREIGN featuring real estate, time travel, and San Francisco’s greatest historical figures; the science fiction noir A Fall in Autumn, winner of the 2020 Manly Wade Wellman Award; and a bunch of short stories. He strives to present the humor and humanity at the heart of horror and mystery with stories of outcasts and loners finding their people.
Michael will be the Guest of Honor at Ret-Con in 2023, co-hosts Arcane Carolinas, studies Appalachian history and folklore at Appalachian State University, and is a brother in St. Anthony Hall. He lives in Durham, NC, with his husband, a variety of animals, and more and better friends than he probably deserves.
- Author Website: https://michaelgwilliamsbooks.com
- Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/mcmanlypants
- Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/MichaelGWilliamsAuthor
- Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/mcmanlypants
- Author Instagram: https://instagram.com/mcmanlypants
- Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6429992.Michael_G_Williams
- Author Liminal Fiction (LimFic.com): https://www.limfic.com/mbm-book-author/michael-g-williams/
- Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Michael-G-Williams/e/B001KIYBBU/
Michael is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card with this tour:
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