Interview with Michael J Moore
Author of Highway Twenty
Michael J Moore lives in Seattle, Washington. His books include the bestselling post-apocalyptic novel, After the Change. His work has appeared in Blood Moon Rising Magazine, Horrorzine Magazine, Schlock Magazine, Minutes Before Six, Terror House Magazine, Siren's Call Magazine, Hellbound Books anthology Ghosts, Spirits and Specters, has been adapted for theater and produced in the Seattle area, is used as curriculum at the University of Washington and has received an Honorable Mention in the L.Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future contest. His short stories will also be released by Rainfall Books, Horror Tree – Trembling with Fear, Black Petals Horror/Science Fiction Magazine, Transmundane Press and Soteira Press.
Buy this book
What aspects of writing do you find most difficult?
- It's funny, because my favorite parts of the book, tend to be the most difficult to write. Dialogue has always come naturally to me. Description is simple enough. I never have to put much thought into pacing. It's the action scenes, particularly, the big climax, which I have to write very slowly and carefully. There's a certain degree of anxiety that comes with writing these scenes. I've put a lot of work into building the tension and the thought of disappointing anybody who's taken the time to make the journey with my characters and I, is terrifying.
Is there one subject you would never write about as an author?
How important are names? Do you choose names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning?
- Good fiction paints a picture of a believable world that readers can relate to. In the real world, names are usually given before we know anything about a person and who they will grow up to be. It's a cheap gimmick to give forgettable names to disposable characters, or sinister sounding names to antagonists. Of course there are exceptions to everything, one being nicknames. You still have to be careful, though, because even the bad guy is the protagonist in his own story. I could never in good conscience give my characters names that reveal their personalities and attempt to pass it off as realism.
Writing is not a static process. How have you developed as a writer over the years?
- Somehow, I've gotten much faster. It took me three months to write the first draft of my first novel, which came out to be roughly 225 pages. These days, I write about 300 plus pages a month, and as it should with everybody, the quality of writing continues to grow.
What tools are must-haves for writers?
- A sense of style. A clearly recognizable voice. Something that readers can connect with and become attached to. Good dialogue breathes life into characters. It makes them real. Too often, especially in literary fiction, we read long conversations that consist of short, one-to-two sentence exchanges between characters who all sound the same. This isn't how people talk. Listen to the people around you. Learn speaking patterns and use them.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received with regards to your writing?
- Revise, edit, proofread, and revise again.
Getting your work noticed is one of the hardest things for a writer to achieve. How have you tried to approach this subject?
- Publishing anywhere I can, whether it pays or not. Building a resume is the most important thing a writer can do in the beginning.
To many writers your characters are like children. Who is your favorite and least favorite and why?
- Jazmin Gutierrez, from my forthcoming Ninja Girl series, is my favorite. If I told you too much about her, it would ruin the story. Book One is set to be released this year. Jazmin doesn't show up until Book Two. I really enjoyed getting to know her through the writing process though. I think my least favorite was Carol Estes, the psychotic ex-preacher/cannibal in After the Change. She was a horrible character who I tried hard to like. She just wouldn't give me a reason to.
Are there any you would like to forget about?
- I have a binding agreement with my trash, not to discuss the many stories I've fed it.
Do you have a favorite line from one of your books?
- "The hanged man in the gallows keeps the entire world at balance."
An engineer from out of town disappears. Then Conor Mitchell's girlfriend. Then his parents. The townspeople of Sedrow Woolley, Washington are vanishing at a horrifying rate. But they come back. They all come back days later, and they're different. Hungry. Insectile. Creatures posing as humans.
Because Conor knows the truth, and because the entire police force has already been changed, and because there's nowhere to run from an evil that only wants to spread, his sole option is to fight. But they have no intention of letting him leave town.