About the author: Michael C. Bland is a founding member and the secretary of BookPod, an online book support group. “Elizabeth”, one of his short stories, won Honorable Mention in Writer’s Digest 2015 Popular Fiction Awards contest, and two of the short stories he edited have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His debut novel, “The Price of Safety,” reached #7 in Amazon’s rankings for Dystopian novels and received Finalist awards three times: by the Indie Book Awards for both Science Fiction and Thriller, and by National Indie Excellence Awards for New Fiction. The second book in the planned trilogy, “The Price of Rebellion” was named “Best Science Fiction” in the 2022 Indies Today awards. He currently lives in Florida. Learn more about Michael via his website: https://www.mcbland.com/
Where are you from? Tell us a little about yourself!
I was born in Cincinnati, grew up in the Midwest, and currently live in Florida.
So far in my life, I’ve been fortunate to experience some amazing things—touring a Russian battleship, witnessing a sunset in Santorini, taking a helicopter ride through the Grand Canyon—yet also experienced heartbreak, including the sudden loss of my mother a few years ago. These events, and the people in my life, have shaped me as a writer. I enjoy the big adventures, the rush of something new, and also cherish those who have been beside me. This includes my beta readers, who have suffered through some rough (and I really mean rough) drafts of my novels, all of whom have helped me make my stories better.
Tell us about your book? How did it get started?
I was riding the “L” in Chicago one day and noticed that every single person had their nose buried in their phone. I thought I could’ve stripped naked if I wanted to, and no one would notice. Then I spotted cameras in the ceiling of the car and realized that someone is always watching. It was that dichotomy that inspired my trilogy. We are already under surveillance. How much more intrusive will it become in the next thirty years? How much more unavoidable? And if you were trying to protect someone you love in that world, would you be able to? In my trilogy, the main character Dray Quintero tries to protect his daughters from a world that has nowhere to hide.
How do you create your characters?
The main character, Dray Quintero, was inspired by my grandfathers. Both were engineers, one chemical and the other metallurgical, and both tried to sign up for WWII after Pearl Harbor but were rejected because of their engineering skills. Instead, one helped build ships for the war, and the other worked at a bomb making factory in Texas. I created Dray to honor them. The other characters stemmed from there—though there have been some surprises. Garly was originally just a minor character, but he leapt off the page, and was so much fun to write, that I brought him back in The Price of Rebellion, elevating him to a major character.
What inspires and what got your started in writing?
What inspires me is science fiction: the wonders that mankind could potentially create—as well as the failures in which everything (society, governments, families) could collapse. The possibilities of our future as a species, in terms of what we create, destroy, and don’t see coming, inspire my stories.
I started to write after I graduated college with a Finance degree and obtained my first full-time job…in the collections department of an auto finance company…which included repo’ing cars. That experience made me question my life choices, including what I wanted to do for a living. That led me to wanting to write. I’ve always been a storyteller, and once I started down the path, I knew I’d found my passion. Writing is one of the most difficult and frustrating things I’ve done, yet it’s also been the most rewarding.
Where do you write? Is there something you need in order to write (music, drinks?)
For the most part, I write at my desk, though I’ve written on airplanes, at horse shows, and other places. The biggest challenge for me is sound. The more dialogue I hear, the more challenging it is for me to write. So I use sound machines that create white noise or listen to music that doesn’t have lyrics. My current favorite is the Calm Before the Storm playlist from Spotify. It drowns out distracting background conversations while giving me the extra motivation to write a fast-paced story that I hope sticks with readers.
How do you get your ideas for writing?
I get ideas from random areas. It could be triggered by a comment someone makes, by a show I’ve seen, by a frustration I’ve had with a device or person, and so on. They come at the weirdest times, too, and many of them are fragments. I have stolen many of those ideas as I crafted The Price of Rebellion, as I continually search for the best possible story to write. A few of my ideas come fully formed, entire stories that my subconscious has been mulling over like an oyster creating a pearl, though even then, the story isn’t always the best. Whichever one I choose to work on means a two- to three-year commitment, as each book takes about that long for me to write, so I’m very selective in terms of the story I choose.
What do you like to read?
Mostly science fiction, though I also enjoy a good thriller. Stories that grab me, that have something unique about them. Those are the ones I lose myself in.
What would your advice to be for authors or aspiring in regards to writing?
Writing is like any other profession: it’s a craft. That means the more training and experience you get, the better. My writing didn’t elevate until I began to take classes at the University of Iowa’s summer writing program. Also, find a fellow writer who will edit your work—and won’t pull any punches. The more direct the feedback, the better you will become as a writer. I started working with the author Robert Kerbeck a few years ago, and he has pushed me to become a better writer. I wouldn’t be where I am today without his guidance and feedback.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I’ve found that one of the best places to meet science fiction readers is at Comic Cons (or Fan Expos). I will be at the Fan Expo in Denver June 30-July 2, will attend the Tampa Bay Comic Con July 28-30, the Chicago Fan Expo August 10-13, and I believe the GalaxyCon in Columbus Ohio December 1-3. For those attending any of these events, come by my table and say hi. It would be great to meet you.