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.
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 :)
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!
Ryan: As a military officer myself, I feel like I can really relate with Cole and the book he has written. It is a book that accurately portrays military life on a military base, while enhancing it using the fantasy elements I love to read about. Whether you are a military buff or not, this is an entertaining book packed full of intense action sequences - a modern interpretation of the fantasy genre that you should have no hesitations in reading.
Okay, I'm almost done gushing. Fortress Frontier is an excellent book, one that hits all the right notes for me. There might be a few people this type of book doesn't work for, the military jargon might be a little off-putting to others, but for those who like action packed military fantasy, you are in for a treat.
The Great Reawakening has left Latent people with a stark choice: either use their newfound magical powers in the service of the government, or choose the path of the Selfer, and be hunted down and killed by the Supernatural Operations Corps. For Lieutenant Colonel Jan Thorsson ' call sign Harlequin ' the SOC is the closest thing to family he's ever known. But when his efforts to save thousands of soldiers leads to the impeachment of the President, he's suddenly cut off from the military and in the same position as his rival Oscar Britton, an outcast criminal who is leading the fight for Latent equality. This latest schism is perfect for the walking weapon known as Scylla, who is slowly but surely building a vast and terrible army. The Selfers and the SOC will have to learn to work together if they are to have any chance of preventing a massacre. Because this time they won't be facing her on a dusty battlefield far from home. This time, Scylla is bringing the fight to the streets of New York.
"From the small beginnings in Control Point where a young man suddenly manifests a weird (and prohibited) magic, to the Earth-shattering events of Breach Zone where a powerful witch instigates a full-scale invasion of New York from a parallel dimension, Cole has shown he has the guts to go big or go home. He went big with Breach Zone, and from my point of view he knocked it out of the park."
US Navy SEAL Jim Schweitzer is a fierce warrior and consummate professional. When he sees something he shouldn't on a covert mission gone wrong, he finds himself - and his family - in the crosshairs. The enemy bring the battle straight to Jim's front door, taking him down together with his wife and son. It should be the end for Jim, but his story is just beginning... Raised from the dead and left to wrestle with new powers he doesn't understand, Jim is called to duty as the ultimate warrior for top-secret unit known as the Gemini Cell. But he will soon realise his new superiors are determined to keep him in the dark on everything - including about the true fate of his wife and son...
"Gemini Cell is a disappointment for me because I loved the Shadow Ops series so much. I wanted to like this book, I really wanted to like this book, but it just wouldn't work for me. There is a disconnect somewhere here, and maybe I'm just missing something. All around the internet people are falling over themselves to see who can gush about this book the most, and I expected to be one of them. I'm still going to read whatever Cole puts out next, he has more than earned that from me, but I think I will wade a little more cautiously into the next book."