Michael Cummings

Since I actually know this author, he was quite aware of the traps I would set to lure him into the isolation tank.  Instead of the usual subterfuge, I sent an engraved invitation.  He seemed thrilled until I neglected to mention the fire pit he had to cross. Silly me.

Why writing?  What drew you to it? Why do you continue?portrait2-1

As an only child and an Army brat, I often only had myself for company. Stories were the medium of my life, the narrative of my solo adventures. As I grew older, it only made sense to start recording them. Like my childhood adventures, I try to tell the stories I want to live or read. Often that means over the top, operatic tales where everything is epic and everyone is someone of significance.

I continue because the little boy that couldn’t just be himself when he went out to play still has stories to share. And writing is a lot cheaper than therapy.

If you were freezing to death and the only thing left to burn were the books in your library, what 5 books would you burn last?  (And yes, everything else burnable has been burnt.)

Les Miserables. Never saw the movie, but this was one of those books we read in high school that really stuck.

The Count of Monte Cristo. Swashbuckling adventure, revenge, and hope all wrapped in one.

The Shining. Because despite badly written prose at times, I read it every year and it still gives me the Willies.

My last two books – well, I’m not sure. I’d love to say an Asimov, or maybe Dickson’s Dorsai, but I have so many stories in my head already it’s hard to say what would be most appropriate for that final honor.

What’s the most challenging thing you’ve done (in life or in writing (your choice))?

Most of my challenges have come from no planning and on the whim decision making. I’m not sure I could pinpoint one that rises above the others though. I’m a father of three girls, work full time at about 60 hours a week, and still manage to occasionally write and be an ok husband. Life is a challenge. Anything less would be dull.

What’s one word or phrase that drives you nuts?  Why?

My kids have taught me the phrase “but I did it last time” is one of the worst phrases in the English language.

Do you have a favorite character you’ve created?  If so, who is it and why?

First, I should point out I’ve created no characters. They have all come to me fully formed and anxious to be properly documented. Of the lot, right now I’d say Niki Hunter, the protagonist of my current WIP (and of a few other trunked novels). Niki is a kick ass woman, thrust into a role she didn’t even know existed, with the fate of worlds resting on her shoulders. But for all her spunk and strength, she’s damaged and hurting. She’s my Buffy, if Buffy had had a few rough knocks and no Scooby gang to fall back on.

Creepiest place you’ve ever been?  Has it appeared in your fiction?  Why or Why  not?

Most of the creepy places I’ve been to, I didn’t realize were creepy at the time. I’ve visited former concentration camps in Germany, played as a kid in stadiums Hitler used for rallys, even lived for a month in the hotel where the war crimes were tried. At the time, they were places, and only now do I realize how creepy all of that sounds. None of this has appeared in my fiction – yet?

What’s the best rejection you’ve ever received?

Cat Rambo (current SFWA president) was working for a fantasy magazine years ago, when I was first trying to publish. She rejected an awful story of mine with a form letter – then wrote me a note in the post script suggesting other markets, and a few other pointers. The story never sold, but that personal note really solidifed my drive.

How did you get that scar?

Sharp words and biting remarks.

What song would precede your entrance into a room if we all had personal soundtracks?

Believe it or not, a question I’ve pondered. I’m a big fan of orchestral scores, modern and not, and on any other day I’d point to one of them. But right this second I’d probably point at Pat Metheny Groups “Forward March” from their 1984 album Full Circle. I heard it live in concert when I was kid, and they walked to the stage from different corners of the theater, bring the different chords together to a cohesive and explosive melding. Seems to fit me perfectly.

Promote yourself and/or your writing

You can catch me in issue 34 of NewMyths.com with my science fiction story, “Io Asunder,” and you can find me on twitter (@kodermike) and facebook

Final thoughts before you run screaming for your life?

This was fun! Bring your masses, that I may share with them a story or three.

As always, I had a great time harassing….um….chatting with you.  I hope you have fun traversing the exit maze. Don’t get too lost on your way out.  I forgot to feed the tunnel worms this week.