Michael R. Underwood is the author of Geekomancy (which I loved) and the sequel, Celebromancy, is out in a couple of days! Michael was kind enough to answer a few questions about the new book, and more, and he’s also got an ecopy of Celebromancy to give away to one lucky winner, so be sure to check out the details at the bottom of the post!
Mike, it’s been just about a year since Geekomancy came out, and the 2nd book in the series, Celebromancy, is out next week! Will you tell us a bit about the book and what’s in store for Ree Reyes this time around?
It’s been six months since the end of GEEKOMANCY, and this time, Hollywood has come to town. Ree’s sold her first pilot to an independent production company, and they’re shooting in Pearson before going out to look for distribution.
But tragedy hits the set when Jane Konrad, the teen-star-turned-actress-producer-turned-hot-mess is targetted in the night by an invisible assailant. Turns out, Jane is a Celebromancer, and she’s cursed, her fame magic turned against her.
Ree takes up her lightsaber and her DVD collection to try to unravel the curse, before her one shot at writing fame crashes before it can even take off.
What do you enjoy most about writing this series?
The best thing about this series, process-wise, is the fun of taking a lifetime of fandom, geeky experiences and enthusiasm, and figuring out fun ways to weave them together into a secret magical world. Asking myself questions like “what thing that Ree loves would be the best way to get out of this situation?” or “how *would* cosplay be magic in this world?” is fun both as a writer, and as a geek.
How would you say Ree has grown since the last book?
The biggest change for Ree is that she’s leveled up from total magical newbie to initiate. More of her life is based in the world of magic, and more importantly, she’s taken a big first step in her career as a screenwriter, those dreams finally coming true. She’s also grown closer with Drake, though not in a smooching or ‘is this a date’ kind of way – and in CELEBROMANCY, that relationship gets even more complicated.
What’s your writing process like? Will you walk us through it?
My process has actually been evolving. I’ve previously been more of a pantser, writing toward a vaguely defined ending, with maybe a couple of waypoints along the path, then filling everything in as I go. With CELEBROMANCY and the books after it, I’ve been doing more and more outlining. I still leave myself room to decide how the major story beats happen, and the emotional arcs of the leads and their relationships are even more open, left to be discovered as I go.
In terms of daily process, I write during my lunch break, usually with the assistance of a soundtrack specifically selected for each story. Then I try to make time for more writing in the evening, shooting for 1000 words or more a day when I’m first-drafting.
When a draft is done, I set it aside for a while, then do the obvious revision work, incorporating ideas that I’d had during the initial draft (like when I come up with something that needs to have already been established, but I write a later scene in the book as if it has been – I’ll go back in and build the scaffolding to support that later scene). After the first round, I send the work to beta readers, then do more revisions before sending the submission draft to my editor.
I heard you’ve got a new gig with Angry Robot Books! Care to dish?
Sure thing! My title at Angry Robot is North American Sales & Marketing Manager. What it basically means is that for most things involving Angry Robot (including our imprints Strange Chemistry and Exhibit A) in North America, I’m the first point of contact. I coordinate with our sales & distribution partners at Random House, who sell the books into bookstores, libraries, etc, and make sure their sales team has everything they need to do right by our books.
I also coordinate with our authors, helping build marketing plans, flesh our tour/bookstore visit plans, and more. I have the awesome pleasure of reading in to acquisitions meetings, giving my opinion on books our editors want to acquire for the imprints. It’s very cool to spend time thinking about books both editorially but also asking questions like “How does this fit the North American market in this genre? How can we use this author’s platform? What’s the best way to position this title so that it finds its ideal readers?” and more.
The best thing about the job is that my colleagues are all smart, engaged, and fun people.
I also noticed that you’ve got some upcoming projects in 2014…can we have the scoop?
My second book deal was for a third Ree Reyes story (which will be shorter, kind of an interlude between CELEBROMANCY and a hypothetical third novel) and two novels in a new Urban Fantasy series called THE YOUNGER GODS.
THE YOUNGER GODS focuses on Jacob Greene, a scion of a family of demon-worshippers who are helping to bring about the eventual rise of unborn gods. Instead of the Older Gods of the H.P. Lovecraft Mythos, these gods are the unborn children of the current generation of gods, borrowing a bit from the idea of Succession Myths (the children will overthrow their parents).
Jake grew up isolated from other people, and didn’t learn that his family were monsters until they tricked him into bringing his outsider girlfriend home, where they sacrificed her to their gods. Her reaction peeled the scales from his eyes, and he fled the family.
Except now, his sister has found him. And according to her, it’s finally time for the gods to be born.
What’s one piece of advice that you would give to struggling writers?
There’s no magic ‘Get Published’ button. There are ways of making connections, of getting cool opportunities, but there’s no magic bullet that catapults you into success without hard work. I got lucky when my editor solicited GEEKOMANCY from Book Country, but he bought the book because it was ready, because I’d spent years honing my craft until I could produce a book that was worthy of being on the market. No matter how many people you meet, how good your query letter is, the work itself has to speak for itself. Whatever your intended path to publication, the work is the thing that really matters.
To make your writing the best you can, make sure to always be stretching your skills – take on projects that seem to be a little more ambitious than you’re comfortable with. By reaching beyond your grasp, you should be able to grow as a writer more quickly. It’ll mean you need to do more work come revision time, but with luck, it’ll be because you’re pulling something off you didn’t initially believe was possible.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
I’d love to give a few shout-outs to friends who also have books coming out:
On July 30th, THE DARWIN ELEVATOR, the first in a trilogy of action-tastic SF novels by agency-brother Jason M. Hough. Jim C. Hines’ second Magic Ex Libris book, CODEX BORN, is coming on August 6th, and should please any and all fans of the Ree Reyes series.
In Angry Robot land, iD (sequel to the Locus-nominated vN) by Madeline Ashby just recently came out, and CRUX, the sequel to the debut hit NEXUS, by Ramez Naam, is coming August 27th.
In closing, thanks for having me back to catch up with the My Bookish Ways family!
2.) Giveaway is for 1 e-copy of CELEBROMANCY by Michael R. Underwood to 1 winner (you’ll specify what format you’d like when I notify you that you’ve won)
3.) Giveaway is open to US residents
4.) You must enter on or before 7/21/13
5.) Giveaway book courtesy of the author
6.) Please see my Giveaway Policy.
Fame has a magic all its own in the no-gossip-barred follow-up to Geekomancy. Ree Reyes gets her big screenwriting break, only to discover just how broken Hollywood actually is.
Things are looking up for urban fantasista Ree Reyes. She’s using her love of pop culture to fight monsters and protect her hometown as a Geekomancer, and now a real-live production company is shooting her television pilot script.
But nothing is easy in show business. When an invisible figure attacks the leading lady of the show, former child-star-turned-current-hot-mess Jane Konrad, Ree begins a school-of-hard-knocks education in the power of Celebromancy.
Attempting to help Jane Geekomancy-style with Jedi mind tricks and X-Men infiltration techniques, Ree learns more about movie magic than she ever intended. She also learns that real life has the craziest plots: not only must she lift a Hollywood-strength curse, but she needs to save her pilot, negotiate a bizarre love rhombus, and fight monsters straight out of the silver screen. All this without anyone getting killed or, worse, banished to the D-List.