Interview with Michael Z Williamson aka MadMike.
TheCO: What can readers of the first book expect in this one?
MZW: It's more streamlined. Freehold had too many plot elements--it was my first. This has a better focus.
TheCO: Who is the main character of this novel?
MZW: Cpt Kenneth Chinran, who led the Freehold ground attack on Earth.
TheCO: What is the 'point' of this novel? Is it just good escapist brain candy, or is there some underlying ethical imperative?
MZW: I'd actually written a large part of it before Sept 11. The cautionary tale therein is even more important now. It's a comment on the fragility of large systems. To an extent, they are self-repairing around accidents, much like any organism. But a sufficiently large attack requires external medicine to prevent maiming or death.
TheCO: What were some of the differences you noticed writing structure wise between this and the first novel?
MZW: I switched to first person for this one, to capture the flavor of the character. There are lots of things that can't be covered from a
single, focused POV, but it also gets the single point emotions to hit
harder, I think. Some writers caution against it, and I even had one
tell me that nothing good had ever been written first person. I guess
Heinlein's Starship Troopers, Double Star and The Moon is a Harsh
Mistress are no good then, not to mention a large number of Ellison's
work, Niven's, Donald Kingsbury and Dean Ing...
TheCO: As you write more is it getting easier for you to drive the plot and keep things moving?
MZW: I've never had a problem with that, actually.
TheCO About how many words do you do per day?
MZW: I try for at least 1000. Some days I do 5-7K. More than that and I think any writer loses focus and is just filling space. Fine for roughing things on a deadline, not good for a self-consistent, polished final product.
TheCO: What if any book that you've read would you compare this to?
MZW: I hate doing that. I'm not trying to be anyone else. I'm trying to be
me. There are obvious Heinlein influences in all my stuff, and Pournelle. But I don't want to be compared to them as far as style.
TheCO: Can you describe your typical workday writing?
MZW: I either write very early or very late, when my brain isn't engaged in mundane matters like bills and such, so right after my daughter leaves for school and my son isn't awake, or after 11pm until whenever. Unless the bug bites me and I pick some other time.
TheCO: What does the future have in store for this world? And for this character?
MZW: This character? A very, very busy life. First as ultimate killer, then as ultimate target for the threat he is, then a frustrated attempt to be normal. Lots of stuff in the Freehold universe-development and basis of it, the war, eventual decline and stagnation, numerous side issues, human stories and economic and political matters.
TheCO: What authors do you admire most among the current crop of
writers? Among the "classic" writers?
MZW: Eric Flint is a very good writer, but I haven't read much of his. Lars Walker is grossly underrated and a fantastic writer for moral discussions. Steven Barnes. David Weber is vastly entertaining. Bujold can always tell a good story.
Not "classic," but David Drake not only defined a genre, but has a
spare yet vivid style everyone should take a look at. Niven, Pournelle, Poul Anderson, Ellison for human effect, Pierre Boulle, Edgar Pangborn, occasional John Brunner.
TheCO: You collaborated with John Ringo for a novel, how was that?
MZW: Interesting. I had to explore that universe, and I had limited ways to adapt it, but greatly enjoyed them. We started with the rule that the Darhel character couldn't kill, yet he's a soldier. "Well, dammit, how the hell is the Darhel going to kill?" That was entirely up to me. I had a lot of fun with it.
TheCO: How much did it affect your writing style to be working
TheCO: Not so much. John insisted on a couple of dialog style issues that I largely agree with now--I'd never seen them. I insisted a couple of parts were flat out unrealistic and he let me change them from the rough draft. I tried to sink into the feel of the outline I had, and as it was set in rough terrain with predators, I used a healthy dose of Peter Capstick for creating mental images. He wasn't SF, but he's still well worth reading.
TheCO: Is there anyone you'd like to work with in the future?
MZW: Several come to mind but I wouldn't want to jinx anything or create any rumors.
TheCO: Thus far you've written near future semi main stream mil-fiction, and slightly more traditional far future sf, what other branches of writing can we expect to see you explore?
MZW: I've also written political satire, technical non-fiction, erotica. I keep pushing to get more human interaction ("politics") and emotion into things. At the same time, a part of me keeps trying to up the physical struggle ("fighting") when I do. I'm working on a near future SF now with a collaborator--and hoping for it to be picked up soon--with what I call the "kitchen sink battle": An absolute desperate fight for survival with totally non-military hardware and improvised weapons galore. Just what are people capable of with good non-military resources and a threat of extinction? It's also far deeper into contemporary politics than I've gone before. There's an immoderate dose of sarcasm in it, too.
TheCO: What other works should people look for with your name on
MZW: Currently, Freehold, The Hero and The Weapon from Baen, The Scope of Justice and Targets of Opportunity from HarperCollins' Avon imprint,
with Confirmed Kill pending, a short story in the next Valdemar anthology, assorted comments and articles on my website and at www.keepandbeararms.com, a pending illustrated article about the US
Army Sniper School, and I've got 4-6 more in negotiation. Sooner would be better. I'm in the famine stage of Feast or Famine.
TheCO: What works are forth coming from you?
MZW: The Weapon and Confirmed Kill. Depending on when this interview us published, Targets of Opportunity will either be out or just about to hit stores.
TheCO: Is there anyplace your fans can find you on the web?
MZW: www.michaelzwilliamson.com www.sharppointythings.com
www.thehighroad.org (firearm forum, as madmike) www.bar.baen.com (Baen
Publishing's online forum, as madmike), www.keepandbeararms.com and
anywhere I'm quoted by others.
TheCO: You've been quite generous in discussing your forthcoming
sequel to Freehold, now lets switch gears and talk about
your other work. What makes Scope of Justice and Targets of
Opportunity different from Freehold and The Weapon?
MZW: There are the limits of the contemporary world, and the further limits of military operational policies and regulations to keep (mostly) in mind. This affects how the story is told.
TheCO: Can you introduce us to some of the people we'll meet
within the pages of Targets?
MZW: Kyle Monroe and Wade Curtis, experience and professional Army snipers. My goal was to keep the story exciting but try to be realistic as far as operations. There aren't firefights on every page, and their goal is to be discreet. They start out barely knowing each other, but by the end, Kyle with his professional pessimism and determination, and Wade with his sarcastic sense of humor are good friends and work well together.
TheCO: Do you find writing the sequels more or less fun than the
original books in a series?
MZW: There's usually another story behind everything. The trick is to tell THAT story and not rehash what's been done already.
TheCO: What three words best sum up Targets?
MZW: Sheesh, most editors ask for a 20 word description.
TheCO: How do the politics differ, or over lap between the
Scopes/Target world and the Freehold/Weapon world?
MZW: The Freehold universe is more libertarian. I can't make all my
characters that way, nor is it realistic for most contemporary
characters. Kyle and Wade have a strong streak of American
independence but are more on the traditionally conservative side.
TheCO: How many more installments can we look forward to in this
MZW: Just the three for now. If you all buy copies, the contract can be extended and I'll write more. Hint, hint.
The CO: And last, thank you for the interview, and is there
anything you'd like to say to your current and future fans?
MZW: Thanks for the trip so far. It's been a hell of a ride.
And that ladies and gents is MadMike Williamson. A man I’ve now met in the flesh twice, played with his kids, met his wife, and had the pleasure of buying both books and blades from. Mad Mike is “good people”. Until next time, stay casual, you know I will.
Targets of Opportunity
Mixed news from the Sudan
1) Read Studs Terkel's "The Good War", its a collection of oral histories from World War Two. An incredible document that gives you more insight into the mind of men and women who were there than you will ever gain without being there.
2) Watch, or rewatch "Dr. Strangelove. For those who have never seen it, its a 1964 indictment of the Cold War mentality by Stanley Kubrick and a cast that includes James Earl Jones in his first movie role. This is an incredible piece of satire that works even forty years later. There are parallels to today's world view in it.
Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks?
Real Life has decided to run me over again. I got involved in a little writing project elsewhere that was supposed to be done, but has taken on a life of its own and will now be taking up time I don't care to spend on it. I should get a piece or two up in the am, but no guarantees. Monday and Tuesday are already looking scarce but on the plus side I've discovered a few things worth blogging about.
Blogspectrum is about to grow again, and I'll be finishing off the first three weeks questions before I start us up again.
I have a charming lady working on a template for me, so my blog will be getting a face lift real soon. And of course my blogroll will get updated.. If you link to me, and I haven't gotten you listed yet please email me, or post a comment and I'll make sure you get put in as soon as the template is loaded.
Just a couple weeks
The Pope and the future
"... His (Peter's) current successor takes as his primary task that of working -- sparing no energies -- to reconstitute the full and visible unity of all Christ's followers. This is his ambition, this is his pressing duty. He is aware that showing good sentiments is not enough for this. Concrete acts that enter souls and move consciences are needed."
James Witman of Ecuador thinks Benedict XVI should do some investigating:
I think the next pope should find out why so many Latin American Catholics are leaving the church for other Christian groups. The Roman Catholic church does not serve the needs of an inquiring person searching for a life closer to Jesus. They find it in groups such as Jehovas Witnesses, Mormons, and evangelical Christian groups. The Roman Catholic church should ask why.
Several world leaders are on record with praising words, others have a slightly more eclectic view of where the Papacy and the world are going.
France did something right!
Some interesting links on how a Pope becomes one.
And yet more proof
Fortunately that's a good thing in some cases.
On Social Security
Stories sans commentary
This isn't your mothers Bolton.
Water is Wet.
MNF goes deep.
Gosh, maybe if they'd put there war industry to work and help us out in Iraq, Afghanistan, or I don't know any one of the half a dozen countries in Africa that need someone to kick the jackals out of power they could create a few jobs.
Is history repeating itself?
"When I say, get out of Lebanon, I mean out of Lebanon with all your troops and all your security services and all the people trying to influence that government"
The current interim Prime Minister is, while still viewed as Pro Syrian, apparently better liked by the international community, and has more broad based support right at home. Najib Miqati, a wealthy businessman, and former government official could become a large force with in Lebanon, and the region if he can hang onto support until elections come about.
Yet More Reasons
Tolo in Afghanistan
The debate over programming on the five private TV stations in Kabul highlights a major difficulty facing the new Afghanistan: trying to balance democratic freedoms and a largely conservative Islamic society. The constitution protects freedom of expression and prohibits anything that is against Islam. This inevitably leads to conflict, because what is against Islam often depends on who is watching.
That's pretty much what I expected. Anyone who thinks the rest of the world is going to just copy our constitution, change the names and dates and go from there is probably in need of a few good deep breaths to restore oxygen flow to the brain.
Tolo TV, which premiered in October, features women as VJs on "Hop" and as commentators on other programs. At some point, the women will take off their head scarves - shocking in a country where women still cover their hair with scarves or wear burqas, which cover everything, even a woman's eyes.
Again, not hugely shocking, but still very different.
But the clerics, also called mullahs, are demanding change of a different kind. They want the TV stations to stop showing cleavage, women singing and dancing, and anything resembling sex.
Yep, they have their version of the far right, unfortunately these people have their own government agency, oh wait, we have the FTC, nevermind.
"It has put a lot of pressure on us," he said. "But we have not censored or banned that program yet."
And that line is very important if they want to keep progressing and move forward enough to stop another Taliban from taking control, even in the face of the following controversial remark from one male host to a female.
"He says, `Your shoes are very good. Can you hold up your legs so everybody can see how good your shoes are?'" Sancharaky recalled. "`Hold up your legs' has a very bad meaning in our language."
I think, "hold up your legs" has about the same meaning in every language.
Interesting piece though.
Let's get this out of the way...
Fall out among the pews
The FBI's latest
Something funny as hell...
All Pope All The Time!
Videos and speeches
And who will be next?
Where in the World in the Next Pope from.
More Abstinence only news
You are going to be mine, or you are going to be dead,The odds of said $%!# getting back within one hundred yards of her for a very long time without me being there are miniscule. I suspect most people feel this way. Yet according to Luis Santiago, that's exactly what Alfred Bishop said to his daughter, and less than two days passed before the high school sophomore was killed by Bishop. Bishop was even playing with the gun that was probably used when he made these threats.
Strikes against the Stryker
Maj. Gen. Stephen Speakes, director of Army force development, said the Stryker has been "extremely reliable" since it went into action in October 2003.
"The Army should not put inadequately tested equipment in the field, as it creates a false impression that the troops are properly equipped to fight in combat," said Eric Miller, who investigates defense issues for the oversight group.
While I realize no system is perfect, and that Major General Speakes has to do his part to keep morale up in the military, I hope he is keeping an open mind and paying attention so that he can lend his weight to getting things up to speed.
Update on the Pope
His current condition is described as "grave" and several quotes from the articles indicate he is lucid but failing rapidly. One of them is:
"This evening or tonight, Christ will open the gates to the pope," Angelo Comastri, the vicar of Vatican City, told thousands of anxious worshipers gathered in St. Peter's Square.
Cardinal Theodore McCarrick said:
"We'll pray that the Lord -- who must love this man very much, because this man loves him very much -- that the Lord will take him peacefully to himself, if that's his will right now,"