Marvin NeuThis month’s author interview is with paranormal and science fiction writer, M.D. Neu.

Living in the heart of Silicon Valley (San Jose, California), and growing up around technology, M.D. has always been fascinated with what could be.  He is inspired by the great Gene Roddenberry, George Lucas, Stephen King, and Kim Stanley Robinson—an odd combination, but one that has influenced his writing.

Growing up in an accepting family as a gay man, he always wondered why there were never stories reflecting who he was. Constantly surrounded by characters that only reflected heterosexual society, M.D. decided he wanted to change that. So, he took to writing, with a desire to tell good stories that reflected the diversity of our modern world.

When M.D. isn’t writing, he works for a non-profit and travels with his husband of eighteen years.

In October, as part of a special Halloween themed set of releases, NineStar Press published M.D.’s short story, The Reunion.

The Reunion by M.D. Neu

I had the pleasure of being given an advance review copy of the story prior to its publication. It’s a suitably spooky little tale; a ghost story with a twist and a cast of intimately drawn characters. I highly recommend it. Now, on with the interview.

Hi, M.D. Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions for me and my readers today. You must be thrilled with the publication of The Reunion. Can you tell us a little bit about how that came about and what it means to you?

Thank you for having me.  I appreciate the opportunity to chat with you today.  The Reunion, man there simply are no words with how lucky and blessed I’ve been these last few months.  How it got started is a bit of a long story, but I’ll try and be brief.  Back in May I sent my manuscript for The Calling (my full length novel) to NineStar Press. I figured, I would get the standard “thank you but no thank you” response.  Anyway, about a week later I heard from a buddy of mine who is signed with NineStar telling me to send them my work and to let him know when I did.  He said he would let his editor know so his editor could pull my manuscript and take a look.  I was floored.  So, I let him know I just sent something to NineStar, so he told his editor and wished me luck. That was that.

A few weeks went by and I still figured I would get the “thank you but no thank you” letter.  Instead I got an email telling me they wanted to publish my book.  I couldn’t believe it.

When it came to The Reunion I was going to use it as a giveaway piece, but I knew it needed some editing.  So I chatted with my editor, the same one who read The Calling.  I told him about the story.  He told me he wanted to evaluate it, so I sent it to him and the next day he sent me a note saying he loved the story and it needed to be published. He wanted to include it in their Halloween Series.  I was stunned and thrilled.  In the matter of a few weeks I needed to do a massive addition to the story (take it from 3,600 words to 22,000 words), have it edited, proof edited, and copy edited.  It was the quickest turn around I had ever seen but we did it. The folks at NineStar Press held my hand the whole way through and I couldn’t be happier with the final product.

Every time I think about how quickly this has all happened I have to pinch myself.  I really am very lucky and so honoured to have this opportunity.

Wow, that’s awesome. Congratulations. The main character in The Reunion, Teddy, is an interesting one. He’s a gay man who returns to his small home-town after having escaped it many years ago. In your bio, you give yourself the challenge of writing stories that reflect the diversity of our world. Can you tell us a bit more about Teddy and how he meets that challenge for you?

Teddy.  Oh man, I love him.  What people have to understand about Teddy is that he’s more than a random stereotype,  which is what they will first see and probably call me out on. Teddy is an occasional drag performer and a full-time hair stylist. He is over-the-top and overweight, and he’s not a handsome man. However, Teddy is warm, caring and a wonderful person. He can be your best friend and give you all he has to give. His heart is as big as his drag wigs. Teddy’s not your typical main character, but he’s real. You see, Teddy is based on two people from my life.  A wonderful friend of mine who did drag and was a hairstylist and my mother—she was a hairstylist as well. Both are no longer with us, but I love them and I think about them all the time.

When I say I want to write stories that reflect the diversity of our world,  I really mean it.  I want to show people who may not be the typical protagonist.  I want to show people who we may joke about and tease. These people have stories and these people deserve to be shown and not just as comic relief but as real people.  Just like Teddy; he’s a character in a book but his heart and soul are based on two wonderful people who deserve to be in the spotlight of a story.  I hope that answers your question.

Yeah, for sure. That’s a great answer. So, what else are you working on at the moment?

Oh, wow.  There is a lot happening.  On December 18th, NineStar Press are releasing my second short story, A Dragon for Christmas. It’s about a cursed little Latina girl called Carmen, who also happens to be a lesbian. She needs to get a dragon to help her fight off this curse she was born with. The fact that she is a lesbian isn’t the focus of the story. It’s her struggle to battle with this awful curse that can kill her.  This story is personal to me for many reasons and I hope people fall in love with Carmen and the story.

On January 1st, NineStar Press are releasing my debut full length novel, The Calling.  The story is about an average gay man named Duncan, who on a fateful trip to San Jose, California, is introduced to the world of Immortals. There is much more to Duncan than anyone realizes. Even himself.

I’ve always loved vampire stories (thank you Anne Rice), so I wanted to offer my take on the genre and NineStar Press is giving me that opportunity.  I hope people enjoy it.

I’m also working on a fantasy story about angels and I’m still working on my science fiction series, so there is a lot going on and I have a lot of stories in the works. I also have a weekly blog and on occasion I write poetry, all of which can be found on my website.

Sounds like you’re a busy man. What is the hardest thing about writing?

The hardest thing about writing is the editing and cutting the story down.  I love detail.  I love descriptions.  I love creating full rich worlds, where everything is there ready for the reader to explore and see.  However, not everyone likes that.  So, editing and trimming.  Keeping it all focused so that people don’t skim to get to the good stuff.

I hate that, because for me it’s all the good stuff.  Why else would I include it?  Plus, I put things in one book that may or may not show up till the next book or even the book after that.  It’s all part of the world building, so don’t skim… cause you never know what you’re going to miss.

Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?

I try and write two to three chapters a week.  Clearly that doesn’t always happen but it’s my goal and I’m happy if I can get one chapter a week written.  Sometimes, instead of writing chapters I’m editing or outlining both of which I count.

I’ll also spend time blogging and writing poetry, which also counts in my book.

Where is your favourite place to write?

I typically write in my study or in my dining room.  However, I’ve been known to write on the plane heading off on vacation.  I’ve also written while on vacation.  My laptop normally travels with me so I can write when the moment strikes me.

Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you?

I belong to a Writer’s Group that provides critiques to whatever you post.  I’ve used that and I love it.  Not only do I get their feedback, but I get to read and provide feedback to their work, which helps me learn and improve.  I can’t tell you how much I’ve learned by being part of this Writer’s Community.

Writing is obviously a major part of your life. Outside of your writing, how do you relax?

I love to cook, travel, go to the movies, spend time with family and friends, play board/card games, read (I bet you thought I would forget about that), and have quiet evenings at home with my husband.  Really anything that takes me away from reality for a little while.  Even though we are living in one of the safest times in human history, with social media, there is so much noise that getting away from it is the most relaxing thing I can think of.

Well, that’s us for today. Thanks again for your time, M.D. It’s been great to chat with you. All the best with your future writing.

Thank you.  It really was a lot of fun.

To find out more about M.D., check out mdneu.com, or connect with him on Facebook or Twitter.