An interview with Myke Cole

Myke Cole

As a secu­rity con­tractor, gov­ern­ment civilian and mil­i­tary officer, Myke Cole's career has run the gamut from Coun­tert­er­rorism to Cyber War­fare to Fed­eral Law Enforce­ment. He's done three tours in Iraq and was recalled to serve during the Deep­water Horizon oil spill. Cole's work of military fantasy, Shadow Ops: Control Point, is due to be released in the UK on the 31st of January 2012 so Ryan Lawler caught up with author to chat about his new book and much more…

Ryan Lawler: Hi Myke, welcome to FBR. Can you start by telling us a little about yourself and what lead you to become a writer.

Myke Cole: I guess if I had to stick a label on myself, it'd be "warrior-nerd." I'm a military officer and I've done three tours in Iraq and have also worked as a responder on domestic disasters like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and Hurricane Irene. I'm also a geek in the classic mode. I grew up on Dungeons & Dragons, comic books and mass market fantasy novels. I never grew out of that love and dreamed of pursuing it professionally all my life. It's kind of ironic that it was the blending of the two (military life and fantasy dorkdom) that lead to me being able to land the book deal and go pro in the field. Last thing I would ever have expected coming out of my years working in/around the military.

Ryan Lawler: Your bio says you have toured the Middle East as a contractor and a military officer. How closely does your writing reflect your active service experiences?

Myke Cole: Fairly close. Readers of CONTROL POINT who are COIN (Counterinsurgency) vets or have ever been on a FOB or a COP (Forward Operating Base/Combat Outpost) should recognize a lot of what they see. But hopefully the blending in of the fantastic will be seamless and believable enough to keep the story resonant and transporting. We come to fantasy to be set adrift in wonderment, and even believable stories have to do that. Otherwise, you can just read nonfiction war stories.

Ryan Lawler: As an Australian military officer, I found Control Point to be a very accurate portrayal of military life, easily evoking those repressed memories of basic training. What has the reception been like from your colleagues and other U.S. military personnel?

Myke Cole: So far, so good. Very few of my military colleagues have read it yet (the book isn't yet out, so only reviewers have copies). But it's actually really comforting to hear that *you* found it believable. It's actually readers like you who I am most concerned about. I have a close friend who is a former Navy SEAL. He got an ARC when he came up to see me at New York Comic Con, and said he liked it, but we haven't had a chance to discuss it in detail. I'll admit that I'm a little worried about that conversation.

Ryan Lawler: What is the hardest part about trying to survive as a new full time author?

Myke Cole: Maintaining an optimistic outlook and confidence in the future. The publishing industry is going through some changes, to put it mildly, and nobody knows what the future looks like for anyone. Add that to a living that's *already* uncertain and you're in for some stress. It's ironic that you ask this question, I just TODAY did a blog post on this very topic. http://mykecole.com/blog/2012/01/how-i-make-it-work

Ryan Lawler: 2011 was a great year for debut fantasy authors and 2012 looks like continuing the trend. Do you think there is any reason in particular why you guys are all doing so well? Is there still room for the traditional fantasy writers like Brooks and Goodkind?

Myke Cole: Absolutely. I would argue that Joe Abercrombie, Sam Sykes and Scott Lynch *are* working in those traditional modes. So is Peter V. Brett. All they are doing is spinning the swords/magic/quest angle to filter in a lot more realism and the kinds of tough questions our more cynical generation has grown accustomed to. With so many AMAZING fantasists at work now, it wouldn't surprise me if later readers look back at this decade as a golden age.

Ryan Lawler: You have been attending all of the conventions, sitting on many panels, and slowly building a solid fan base. It's a geeky kid's / adult's dream. What is it like earning all this geek cred and amassing a legion of followers?

Myke Cole: I would strongly debate all of that except for the fact that I'm going to a lot of conventions :) The truth of it is that chatting about fantasy, playing RPGs, reading, writing and going to cons is pretty much all I've ever wanted to do for my entire life. The fact that I'm getting to do it now for a living makes me far beyond happy. It is well worth the uncertainty and stress inherent in a full time writer's life.

Ryan Lawler: You are on contract to write two more Shadow Ops books. Do you plan on writing more books in the Shadow Ops universe or would you like to write something different?

Myke Cole: I honestly just want to keep on writing fantasy. I have another original series fully plotted with 75 pages of prose written in the first book. I have an elevator pitch ready for a stand-alone novel. I have a media tie-in short story that I hope will be accepted by the franchise and turn into an offer to write novels. But if SHADOW OPS is successful enough that people want me to keep going and Penguin wants to put me under contract for more books? Heck yeah, I'd keep going in that universe. It's a huge world and there's all kinds of cool things I could do in it.

Ryan Lawler: When can we expect to see Fortress Frontier?

Myke Cole: Exactly one year after CONTROL POINT. January 31st, 2013. The manuscript is done, approved by my agent and in the hands of my editor at Penguin.

Ryan Lawler: Finally, can you name three of your favourite or most influential fantasy works?

Myke Cole: Schizophrenic, I know. At least all the titles have "the" in them :)

  1. Peter V. Brett's The Warded Man
  2. China Mieville's The Scar
  3. Lloyd Alexander's The Book of Three

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Ryan Lawler: Thanks for chatting Myke, I wish you all the best for the release of Control Point.

Myke Cole: Thank you for having me!

Myke Cole books reviewed