Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Publishing Tips & More: 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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Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?
Russ: 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.
Genius de Milo is the second book in the trilogy, where our bumbling backpacking heroes Jason
Medley and Theo Barnes are once again tasked with retrieving a radioactive jar filled with the Universe’s DNA … before it wipes out the galaxy.
And whereas Finders Keepers was set predominantly in Europe and New Zealand, the action in Genius de Milo has shifted mostly to the U.S. And, of course, there's lots going on in Eternity, the 'cosmic' realm where the Universe is created. I fabricated all of the backpacking scenes, but the scifi shenanigans are totally real and based on my personal intergalactic experiences.
Genius de Milo is 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.

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

Russ: Genius de Milo was the first time I’d written a sequel, which poses 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 thoroughly enjoy even if they haven’t read Finders Keepers; 2) as the second novel in the Finders Keepers trilogy that not only continues but enhances the overall narrative and individual story arcs, and; 3) structurally as a launch pad for the final, upcoming novel that will conclude the trilogy.

My suggestion — for authors looking to author a trilogy — is that before you start writing, plot out the basic structure of the overall narrative and have a good idea of the big moments that need to happen along the way. You want to leave enough room for the story to grow and change organically along the way, but since there needs to be connective tissue from book to book, you’ll want to think the overall plot through a bit. Otherwise you risk going down a narrative path in one book you can’t recover from in the next.

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?
Russ: 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. By publishing through Crazy 8 Press we have more control of our fates — for better or worse!
As for how we met … a few years ago Aaron Rosenberg, one of the Crazy 8 founders, stopped by my table at a scifi convention outside of Philadelphia, and asked me about Finders Keepers. It turns out that Aaron is also a scifi comedy author — there just aren’t that many of us — and so we became fast friends. Not long after that the gang at Crazy 8 Press formally invited me to join them. I’ve now published all of my novels through Crazy 8 Press.
Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

Russ: Indeed. 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. Talk about bizarre timing! I originally published (print and e-book) though 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 digest novels, and for authors it’s been an entirely new and ever-changing world since then. 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, which is nice.

Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

Russ: The third and final book in the Finders Keepers trilogy, which I’m working on now, is targeted for a fall 2016 release. I'll also being contributing a short story to Pangea, an alternate reality collection from Crazy 8 Press which we're funding through Kickstarter, and should be out later this year. Beyond that I'm planning a Finders Keepers spin-off series, a baseball-themed scifi mystery novel, and another project which needs to be totally hush-hush for now. So ssshhhh. Don’t tell anyone.

Q: What’s your favorite place to hang out online?

Russ: Twitter.

Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

Russ: Just like with Finders Keepers, Genius de Milo falls into the category that I like to call Cosmic Lunacy — comedic scifi. It’s meant to be fun and funny — a great time you’ll never forget — but also give you something to think about. It’s a popcorn book on the outside, yet there’s more to it than meets the eye. Our heroes are worried about paying rent … and also saving the galaxy!

Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

Russ: If the Milky Way galaxy does in fact vanish from the Universe, I can neither confirm nor deny my involvement.


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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