Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Michael J Sanford-The IAN Interview

Michael J Sanford

I'm 28, married, father to two precocious felines, and live in New York. I am a newly self-published author. I have a degree in Child and Family Studies with a Minor in Criminal Justice, but all I want to do in life is to write! And I am totally OK with that. I work to pay the bills, but write to live.

IAN: Please tell us about your latest book.

MJS: My most recent release is titled "The Mighty" and is the first in a series of yet to be determined length. In it, the main character Wyatt is sent to a facility for troubled youth, but finds that his amulet can quite literally take him to a different world. There he vows to save the realm from the oppressive Regents and protect the Draygan warrior, Rozen. But he has no control over his magic and continually bounces between worlds at random. He also meets a fellow resident and vows to help her escape. It's a story of balancing two worlds all while trying to avoid painful memories that whisper from the shadows.

IAN: Is The Mighty published in print, e-book or both?

MJS: Both.

IAN: Where can we go to buy a copy of The Mighty?

MJS: The Mighty is available at Amazon at this link

IAN: What inspired you to write The Mighty?

MJS: Right after college I worked for two years in a residential treatment center for "behaviorally disturbed" youth. All of the kids/teens had a different way of dealing with the inhuman trauma they had each suffered. One in particular impacted me as I saw a lot of myself in how he handled things. He retreated into his imagination and spent an inordinate amount of time role-playing as a wizard, warrior, and the like. I often wondered, "what's it like in his head?" "The Mighty" is the answer to that question.

IAN: Did you use an outline or do you just wing the first draft?

MJS: Before I sit down and actually write, I take a few weeks and just think the whole thing over. So while I don't outline in the traditional sense, nothing gets written down, I've done a large portion of the writing in my head. Then I open up a word processor and just write, stream of consciousness style.

IAN: How long did it take to write the book?

MJS: From conception to final project, about three or four months. I can typically get a full first draft done in about 6-8 weeks, then its all about polishing.

IAN: What do you hope your readers come away with after reading The Mighty?

MJS: Well, I hope they come away having gone on a fun and fantastical adventure. More than that, however, I hope they are able to catch a glimpse at what a kid like "Wyatt" or "Athena" have to live with on a daily basis. And I hope my readers get a sense of how adult problems and decisions can impact the children around them.

IAN: How much of the book is realistic?

MJS: Well, the fantasy portion, where the character is in Hagion, is complete fantasy. But the parts where he is in the youth facility is entirely accurate to the unit I worked on. The layout, rules, atmosphere. Everything. And the residents there truly have gone through some horrific things that they try awfully hard to forget.

IAN: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

MJS: Brian Jacques, no question. The man could tell a story and create characters like no one else. I was obsessed with the Redwall series all throughout middle and high school. I dream of being half the storyteller he was. Because it's not about writing, it's about telling a good story. And Brian Jacques is a master storyteller.

IAN: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

MJS: Podcasts. I have a job where I can listen to podcasts the whole shift. And while I have a wide ranging taste in audio, several writing focused podcasts gave me the kick in the pants I needed to put my work out there and become an "author."

IAN: Do you see writing as a career?

MJS: No. I see it as a passion, as a love, and as necessary as breathing. If I make money from my writing then all the better, but that's not why I do it. I do it because I have to.

IAN: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

MJS: I've always loved reading, and writing goes hand in hand with that. Even as a child I dreamed of being a writer. I wrote numerous short stories and fan fiction of whatever I was into. I began on my mother's typewriter, writing for hours. I can even remember beginning a Thriller novel before I was a teenager, on an outdated PC. But, it wasn't until recently that I made a pact with myself to get over my insecurities and anxiety, and take the plunge into publishing. Best decision I've ever made.

IAN: Tell us about your next book or a work in progress. Is it a sequel or a stand-alone?

MJS: I have two different series on tap right now, and the next book I release will be the first of what I am calling "The Last War Saga." It's a character driven high fantasy series, and was inspired by a Dungeons and Dragons campaign I create(d) and run on Friday nights with a great group of friends. I am expecting to release the first in the series, "The Girl With Red Hair," in June 2016. Then I'll bounce back to publishing the sequel to "The Mighty," which is in first draft form now.

IAN: Do you have any advice for other writers?

MJS: Write. It's the only way to become a writer. If you write, you are. If you don't, you're not. It's truly that simple. All the rest is just dressing.

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