Multi-genre authors. What’s that, you say? Well, some authors write only one kind of novel, (mysteries, maybe,) but others write books that fall into different genres. My friend and fellow indie author Michael Gardner is a great example of a multi-genre author. And he’s gotta be the wittiest guy I know! That cleverness shines through in his wide-ranging fiction – short stories, as well as novels – whether it’s romantic stories, humorous sci-fi, historical action/adventure or fantasy.
I’m sharing a recent conversation we had about his writing – me in Atlanta, Georgia and Mike shouting his answers very loudly from New Zealand! (Trying to be witty like Mike.)
Connie: So, Mike, just wondering – what was the first work of fiction you ever wrote?
Mike: Does that include things like tax returns and job applications? It’s a funny old thing to be honest. I’ve been writing all my life. I used to make comics when I was very young, writing the stories and illustrating them. I had a play published that I co-wrote at university. I’ve always been writing one thing or another. But I never considered myself to be a writer, even when I started working on novels.
I literally had a moment on an aeroplane. I was filling out the arrivals card and stopped cold at the ‘occupation’ box. I think my higher self took control of the pen at that point because I put ‘writer’ in it. I guess I worked out that being a writer was something I had to do, otherwise it would remain fiction.
I haven’t answered the question though (laughs). Lemme see, my first novel was the third book I wrote. My second novel is the first book I wrote. My third novel is a complete re-imagination of the second book I wrote. I’d like to thank George Lucas for teaching me to count.
Connie: (laughs a little too long, then clears throat) Joking aside, do you have certain themes you like to focus on in your fiction?
Mike: Undoubtedly. Looking back over my short stories and novels there’s an ongoing theme about understanding the human condition... love, self-realisation, the higher self, the depths of despair and so on. I’m not sure it’s entirely a conscious decision. For me, the inspiration for stories feels partly magical. What do you think, Connie? Do you feel like you’re entirely in control of a story when it comes to you?
Connie: No. You’re right – sometimes an idea, or a scene or a character pops into my head and leads me into a story. You and I both write in different genres. Do you have a favorite?
Mike: Not really. I’ve always been a story writer rather than a genre writer. When a story comes to me it usually fits a certain genre, so I write it in that genre. I’ve never felt right trying to force stories into one genre so I’m ‘easier to follow’ – as the marketing experts tell us to do – I’d rather let them live as they are.
Connie: You've written some romantic stories that I quite enjoyed. Do you have a good number of women readers?
Mike: Judging by the feedback we get on Goodreads with ratings and reviews, I’d say I do. But much like your question about genres, I’m not trying to appeal to specific genders. I’m just writing stories I hope any reader will enjoy.
Connie: Do you set most of your fiction in New Zealand where you live?
Mike: I’ve tended to avoid putting stories in specific locations unless they belong in one. Most of my contemporary and romantic fiction is set in imaginary places that could be found almost anywhere in the western world. Reading, like writing, is a magical experience. Readers fill in the details of stories in their mind as they read. I guess I hope certain stories feel like they’re just down the road by putting them in imaginary settings.
Connie: What are you working on now?
Mike: Right now I am writing a story set in New Zealand. Well, it begins in New Zealand. As I was writing the first draft, I realised it needed to be grounded in a real location and New Zealand was the right place to set it – not because it’s my home – but because it works for the story. It’s called Gone Wonder Land and I hope to have it out soon.
Connie: Do you use family or friends as models for characters? If so, do you get feedback from them?
Mike: The last time I told a friend of mine that I’d based a character in a story on her, she looked at me like I’d just soiled myself. I decided to keep quiet about it after that.
Connie: (laughs again, louder this time) Before we wrap it up, tell us where readers can find you.
Mike: I’m most active on Goodreads, Amazon and Patreon. All follows much appreciated.
Connie: Huge thanks to author Michael Gardner for chatting with me about his fiction.
If you’re looking for a new author to read, I highly recommend Mike. He’s a master short story teller and his longer fiction gets excellent reviews. Some of my own favorites: Romance in Four Seasons, Space Plumber and Alexander Rollins Must Die - all available in ebook on Amazon.