Monday, April 20, 2015

I'm Shelf-ish: Interview with Russ Colchamiro, author of Genius de Milo

Russ Colchamiro is the author of the rollicking space adventure Crossline, the hilarious scifi backpacking comedy Finders Keepers, and the outrageous sequel, Genius de Milo, all with Crazy 8 Press.

Russ lives in West Orange, NJ, with his wife, two children, and crazy dog, Simon, who may in fact be an alien himself. Russ is now at work on the final book in the Finders Keepers trilogy.

As a matter of full disclosure, readers should not be surprised if Russ spontaneously teleports in a blast of white light followed by screaming fluorescent color and the feeling of being sucked through a tornado. It’s just how he gets around — windier than the bus, for sure, but much quicker.

His latest book is the science fiction novel, Genius De Milo.

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About the Book:

Title: Genius De Milo
Author: Russ Colchamiro
Publisher: Crazy 8 Press
Pages: 320
Genre: SciFi/Comedy
Format: Paperback/Kindle

Best pals Jason Medley and Theo Barnes barely survived a backpacking trip through Europe and New Zealand that — thanks to a jar of Cosmic Building Material they found — almost wiped out the galaxy. But just as they envision a future without any more cosmic lunacy:

The Earth has started fluxing in and out of existence, Theo's twin girls are teleporting, and Jason can't tell which version of his life is real.

All because of
Milo, the Universe's ultimate gremlin.

Joined by the mysterious Jamie — a down-and-out hotel clerk from Eternity — Jason and Theo reunite on a frantic, cross-country chase across
America, praying they can retrieve that jar, circumvent Milo, and save the Earth from irrevocable disaster.

In author Russ Colchamiro’s uproarious sequel to Finders Keepers, he finally confirms what we've long suspected — that there’s no galactic
Milo quite like a Genius de Milo.

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Q: I’d like to know more about you as a person first.  What do you do when you’re not writing?

A: Disguised as a mild-mannered scifi comedy writer, I'm actually a fugitive from another dimension, with the intergalactic agency in charge of such matters hot on my trail, looking to drag me back to where I’ll face my day of reckoning. So please … don’t tell anyone!

But if you’re referring to my more Earthbound activities … I am a former journalist turned PR guy working in the commercial real estate industry, mostly in New York City.

I’m also married with four-year-old twins, so those little ninjas of mine keep me on my toes. Plus I have a crazy dog. I’ve also shoveled about 19 gazillion pounds of snow this winter.

Oh. Occasionally I sleep.

Q: When did you start writing?

A: I started jotting down goofy ideas as far back as the 4th grade, and then spent a chunk of my high school years writing, including a trilogy of short stories, which wound up – almost 25 years later! – as a key element of my scifi adventure novel Crossline – think Flash Gordon meets Escape from New York.

My intent in high school was — surprise, surprise — to impress a girl with my writing. I didn’t get the girl then, but it led to a novel, so that’s something.

Q: As a published author, what would you say was the most pivotal point of your writing life?

A: My debut novel Finders Keepers is a scifi backpacking comedy ... think American Pie meets Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It's loosely based on a series of backpacking trips I took through Europe and New Zealand, set against a quest for a jar that contains the Universe's DNA.

It’s for fans of authors such as Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, and Christopher Moore, and movies and TV shows such as Harold and Kumar, Bill and Ted, Hot Tub Time Machine, Time Bandits, Quantum Leap, Groundhog Day, Northern Exposure, Third Rock from the Sun … and Midnight Run.

My newest book, Genius de Milo, is the second novel in this trilogy.

But when I published Finders Keepers in October 2010 … I didn’t know it then, but it was right before e-books took over the market … and also in the middle of what turned out to be the biggest economic downturn in a century. Not quite what I was expecting!

Three different publishers wanted Finders Keepers, but they were gun-shy at the time because of the economy. So I went with a small indie publisher, Three Finger Prints, with success right away.

I was able to land a national distribution contract (uncommon for a first-time author), with Finders Keepers carried by several Barnes & Noble stores throughout the country. Finders Keepers also received very supportive write-ups by Publishers Weekly, and I was one of only a half dozen authors globally to be invited by Wattpad to become one of their featured authors.

And then right after Finders Keepers debuted, e-books revolutionized the way readers consume novels, and since then, for authors it’s been a new and ever-changing world. I wound up reprinting Finders Keepers through Crazy 8 Press so that I now have my entire catalogue under one imprint, and control all of the rights.

Q: If you could go anywhere in the world to start writing your next book, where would that be and why?

A: I’d take 2-3 months each in San Francisco and Auckland, New Zealand. They are actually quite similar in many respects, yet utterly different, and two of my favorite places in the world. This world, anyway.

Q: If you had 4 hours of extra time today, what would you do?

A: Sleep. And then take a nap.

Q: Where would you like to set a story that you haven’t done yet?

A: That’s classified!

Q: Back to your present book, Genius de Milo, how did you publish it?

A: I’m a member of Crazy 8 Press, a collection of mostly award-winning, best-selling scifi and fantasy authors who banded together so that we can bring our wacky tales to the audience as we intend, and on our schedule. All of my novels are now published through Crazy 8 Press.

Q: In writing your book, did you travel anywhere for research?

A: Over the years I’ve spent quite a bit of time traveling both in the U.S. and overseas, including England, Whales, France, Spain, Germany, Austria, Belgium, The Netherlands, Hungary, The Czech Republic, Romania, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, the Caribbean, and a few places I best not mention.

I also drove cross country, twice, with my cat Alex riding shotgun, so I have in fact spent time in Baltimore, Terre Haute, Indiana, Albuquerque, and San Francisco.
Although, as a matter of full disclosure … even though my novels have that authentic you-are-there, on-the-ground feel to them, I pretty much made up all of the backpacking and Earth-bound travel scenes.
But all of the scifi wackiness is absolutely, 100 percent real and based on my own intergalactic, interdimensional experiences.
Q: Why was writing Genius de Mio so important to you?

A: Genius de Milo is the second book in the Finders Keepers trilogy. It’s also the first time I’ve written a sequel, which posed all sorts of structural challenges. To my mind it needs to work on three levels: 1) as a satisfying, self-contained novel that new readers can enjoy even if they haven’t read Finders Keepers; 2) as the second novel in the Finders Keepers trilogy that both continues and enhances the overall narrative and individual story arcs, and; 3) structurally as a lead-in to the final, upcoming novel that will conclude the trilogy.

Q: Where do you get your best ideas and why do you think that is?

A: The truth is … I have no idea. I often get that a-ha moment that gets the story rolling. But more often than not I write the ‘big’ novel, which in my case means telling an ‘epic’ tale but with grounded, relatable characters, who you and I can relate to in the world that we know, set against some sort of cosmic lunacy where the galaxy is in jeopardy. I’m both a serious guy and a world-class goofball. Both elements tend to make their way into my novels.

Q: Any final words?

A: Don’t be surprised if I spontaneously teleport in a blast of white light followed by screaming fluorescent color and the feeling of being sucked through a tornado. It’s just how I get around — windier than the bus, but much quicker.

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