Interview with Author Michael C. Bland
Michael C. Bland
I am thrilled to have interviewed author Michael C. Bland, who shared with us details of his writing life, his book ‘The Price of Rebellion‘, which was released on 16th May 2023, and answered a few fun questions. This post contains affiliate links.
Michael’s debut novel The Price of Safety was published in 2020. Though released during a global pandemic, The Price of Safety reached #7 in Amazon’s rankings for Dystopian novels and won awards for both Science Fiction and Thriller (by Indie Book Awards) as well as New Fiction (by National Indie Excellence Awards). The second novel in the trilogy, The Price of Rebellion, was released in May 2023. It won Best Science Fiction Novel of 2022 by Indies Today and was awarded a Bronze Medal for Science Fiction by Readers Favorite.
Michael 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. He currently lives in Florida and is working on the third book in The Price of trilogy.
1) Where did the inspiration for your book come from?
I was inspired when I was living in Chicago. I was taking the “L” one day when I realized I was the only passenger in my car that didn’t have their nose buried in their phone. The thought struck me that I could strip naked and no one would notice. Yet there were cameras attached to the car’s ceiling, so someone actually could be watching. That led me to wonder how much we’re watched, recorded, and tracked without our knowledge. How much more intrusive and unavailable will that become over the next 25 years? If someone used that technology for criminal or immoral reasons, how could we stop them? How could we protect those we love?
That was the inspiration for my trilogy.
At the same time, I wanted to write about good intentions that went wrong. The main character, Dray Quintero, thought the surveillance system he created, which was designed to stop crime, was a good thing. But his system and the underlying software is actually used in to commit a crime bigger than he’d ever expected. He has to fight his own creation and those who yield it throughout the series.
2) How did you plan out the plot?
It’s a process. Not only is the story intricate with number of rules, I can’t write without a clear roadmap of the plot. So I write ideas about the plot points, details, characters, settings, and all kinds of other notes in Word. I also use my phone’s Notes app to capture ideas, which I then email to myself. I aggregate those ideas together (which will trigger more ideas that I add to the growing list), and then I try to create an outline, both main plot points and subpoints.
After I feel I’ve come up with every idea I can think of, I print up the huge mass of notes and try to make sense of everything. I’ve been known to cut up those pages so I can move the notes around on a table in order to make sense of them all (now that I write all this out, I realize how disorganized this sounds, but it somehow works for me). Over time, the story becomes clear, and I refine it over and over until it becomes the best version I can create.
After that, I start writing. Then I edit, and edit, and edit.
3) When did you choose the title for your book?
I chose the title after the story was completed. I initially was going to call it The Price of War, but that didn’t have the right focus. The story is more than the fight itself. It’s about the choices the characters make, the risks and their sacrifices. So I planned to call it The Price of Revolution, with connotations of the Revolutionary War. I wanted to have an echo of that struggle, yet that wasn’t the right title, either. The characters are actually rebelling against the world they’re being forced to live in, which is when I realized the correct title should be The Price of Rebellion.
4) How did you come up with the names for your characters?
A few names came quickly. Dray’s last name, Quintero, was inspired by him having a mixed heritage of Mexican and other nationalities. But for the most part, I didn’t have names predetermined I came up with a number of different suggestions for Dray’s name as well as the others, and then I discussed them with my wife. I would tell her who the character was and how he/she fit into the story, then would read the various names I wrote down. She would then pick a name, or sometimes would suggest a completely different one. There would be some back and forth as we worked together to come up with the right name for that particular character. She has a great ear when it comes to names, and I think she’s done a great job.
5) Can you give us a hint to any sections that you removed?
I’ve had a number of ideas that I ended up not pursuing. This mostly occurred in the planning stage. I would cull my ideas during this stage, leaving only the best parts to write (at least that’s always the hope). Surprisingly, the novel’s first scene never changed. When the idea struck me, I thought it was the perfect way to launch the book, and no other idea came close to replacing it.
However, after I wrote the rough draft, I gave the story to my first beta readers, which includes my father. He loved that first scene—then told me the next 40 pages were “boring”. I’d included a subplot that didn’t work. After the 40 pages, the rest of the book was “great” in his opinion, but the first part needed work. He was right. I went back, essentially threw away those 40 single-spaced pages, and rewrote the first section. The process was painful, but it made the story so much stronger in the end.
6) What made you choose this genre?
I love both science fiction and thriller. My father loved science fiction, and he would leave sci-fi books all over the house: Stranger in a Strange Land, Contact, I Robot, and others. I picked up those books as a kid, read them, and fell in love with the genre. I also loved fast-paced thrillers, the twists and turns as the protagonist desperately tried to stop the villain from whatever they were trying to accomplish. When I approach a story, I think in those terms, which is why my trilogy is written in that style. The Price Of trilogy reflects what I love.
7) How long did it take you to complete your book?
As I indicated, I plan out my story long before I start writing. I took a little over a year to plan out the novel. During this time, I went from a vague idea of the overall story to a detailed outline that extended over 100 pages and included every beat of the story, along with lines of dialogue, emotions that characters were experiencing but not described on the page, and themes I wanted to weave into the narrative. After that, I started writing—but by then, I was so familiar with the story that it only took about three months, writing on weekends, to complete the rough draft. It took another year to edit the story before sending it to my publisher. The story was polished by then, so my publisher didn’t have many edits before signing off on the manuscript.
8) Can you describe your book in three words?
Rebellion, gamble, sacrifice.
9) What’s the hardest part of being a writer?
The uncertainty of it all. You try to write the best novel you can, making choices with virtually every single word you use, hoping that what you write resonates with readers—and then you’re not sure if anyone will discover your book and read it. I’ve been fortunate to have generated strong sales for a new author, and have won multiple awards, but being a writer has been challenging.
10) Why should our readers pick your book up?
If a reader is just looking for a fun, fast-paced novel with a lot of twists and turns, they will enjoy the tale. But it’s also a deeper story: about a man protecting his family, about the risks that come from technology that isn’t contained, and about a future we might face if we’re not diligent. I created characters I hope the reader cares about. The story should resonate with both men and women, because at its core, it’s about a parent doing everything possible to protect their children.
The Price of Trilogy Book Two
Publisher – World Castle Publishing
Pages – 386
Release Date – 16th May 2023
ISBN 13 – 978-1960076748
Format – ebook, paperback, hardcover
It’s 2047. Secrets have been revealed. And Washington wants revenge.
Dray Quintero learned an ugly truth: the leaders in D.C. are fake. They’ve stolen the identities of those elected to Congress and are determined to stay in power, using his own technology against him and the rest of the population.
After revealing the dangers of their mandated implants to his fellow citizens, and calling on everyone to rise up, Dray joins the already-underway rebellion. But his joining is as much to free the U.S. as it is to avenge his daughter’s death. Before he can strike, The Agency attacks with devastating consequences. Dray and the other survivors are forced to run as Agents hunt them.
Then Dray makes a discovery that could change the nation.
As he and the rebels prepare a bold offensive, his wife Mina broadcasts a preposterous claim. He’s forced to choose between the rebellion and a desperate hope. Between family and country.
What he does will change everything.
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1) Do you have a writing buddy (i.e. a pet)?
No. Our dogs prefer to hang out with my wife more than me (which only stings a little)
2) Do you have any writing quirks?
I need music when I write—but I can’t have anything with words. When I’m not writing, I love to listen to all kinds of music, but when I’m writing, it can’t have vocals. So I will stream various Focus playlists on Spotify. My current favorite is Calm Before the Storm.
3) Where do you write?
I mostly write in my office. I have a number of Star Wars action figures by my monitor, and various Star Wars and superhero framed prints on the walls. But I also write when I fly. I’m forced to turn off my phone, which provides a quiet period where I can dive into writing or editing—and I get served airline snack packs!
4) Your book has been made into a movie, you’ve been offered a cameo role, what will you be doing?
I would be one of the rebel leaders. I would be dressed in rebel-leader gear, maybe with something on my head that glows (to give it the futuristic look). As this character, I would give Dray a ton of attitude before I go out in a blaze of glory (since this is a cameo role).
I could also play one of the silver-haired Agents hunting the good guys, but I’d rather be one of the rebel leaders.
5) A talking owl has just finished reading your book, what’s the first thing he says to you?
The owl would first check to see if I’ve been drinking too much caffeine, due to the fast-paced nature of my writing. Then he might check for psychological issues with my family (kidding!). He would then yell at me because the technology I envisioned with computer lenses in our eyes would be so cool—we could be able to steam movies, play games, and surf the internet in a completely immersive way—but I ruined it because I show how it could be manipulated and used against us. Having an angry owl would be bad. I’d probably have to run and hide somewhere. But that’s OK. It comes with the territory.
A big thank you to Michael C. Bland for sharing his writing life with us and for a wonderful interview.