Author Interview & Book Giveaway – Billy: Messenger of Powers by Michaelbrent Collings

Welcome to Author Michaelbrent Collings

Michaelbrent Collings is a bestselling novelist, produced screenwriter and WGA member, martial artist, and has a killer backhand on the badminton court.

He published his first “paying” work – a short story for a local paper – at the age of 15. He won numerous awards and scholarships for creative writing while at college, and subsequently became the person who had more screenplays advance to quarterfinals and semifinals in the prestigious Nicholls Screenwriting competition in a single year than anyone else in the history of the competition.

He has written numerous bestselling novels, including Billy: Messenger of Powers, RUN, The Loon, and Rising Fears. In addition, he has also written dozens of non-fiction articles which have appeared in periodicals on several continents.

Michaelbrent is also a member of the WGA (Writers Guild of America) and the HWA (Horror Writers of America), and he has sold, optioned, and done rewrites for screenplays for major Hollywood production companies. Additionally, he is currently developing several movies and television shows.

Michaelbrent has a wife and several kids, all of whom are much better looking than he is (though he admits that’s a low bar to set), and also cooler than he is.

He consoles himself by hanging out with his imaginary friends…or at least, he used to, until they moved and failed to provide a forwarding address or any contact information. If you know of the whereabouts of either “Jib-jab the Wonder Dolphin” or “Mr. Sniffle-ifficus,” please contact Michaelbrent immediately.

Links:
Blog: http://michaelbrentcollings.com/blog2.html
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Michaelbrent-Collings/283851837365
Website: http://michaelbrentcollings.com/

Interview:
If you could invite any 5 people to dinner who would you choose?
My family. Sounds sappy but it’s true. I love sitting around the table with my wife and kids. They are treasures. Other than them, I don’t know. Maybe, uhhh… sorry. I’ve got nothing.

If you were stranded on a desert island what 3 things would you want with you?
My wife.
Sunscreen.
Oh, and a working plane with a tank full of gas.

If you were a superhero what would your name be?
Types Super Fast Man. Either that or Ugly But Somehow Managed To Survive Childhood Man.

Night owl, or early bird?
It actually depends on what I’m working on. I write in a variety of genres, from YA fantasy to horror to sci-fi, with a few non-fiction things sprinkled in for good measure. When I’m writing the YA stuff, I tend to work well in the morning and afternoon. When I wrote BILLY: MESSENGER OF POWERS, my bestselling YA fantasy, I did the whole thing by the light of the day. But when I’m really involved crafting a good scary book, I can be found pounding away at the keyboard in the middle of the night. Which actually makes for some funny moments. I tend to work with the lights off so as not to bother anyone in the house, and I put headphones on and listen to music when I type, so I’m basically in this bubble where the only things that exist are the computer screen, the keyboard, and my music. Then my wife (who is pregnant and goes to the bathroom something like sixty two times per night) will get up and walk by on her way to the bathroom. So there I am in my homemade sensory deprivation chamber, writing a SCARY story, and then my wife through the corner of my field of vision like a ghost. I say some really interesting words when that happens. ;o)

Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.
Because SOMEONE’S gonna have to pay for my kids to go to college. Actually, the best reasons are (I hope) for anyone to read any of my books are because they’re well written, provide a good experience, and maybe leave you a little better for having read them.

Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects?
I definitely have a number of books in the works. I’m working on a sequel to BILLY: MESSENGER OF POWERS called (inspiringly) BILLY: SEEKER OF POWERS. I’m also working on a haunted house yarn called THE HAUNTED, as well as doing work on a number of screenplays. Goals for future projects would be just to keep writing. I love writing, I love the fact that people read what I write, not merely enough to pay money for it (which is a huge compliment), but enough to share the works with their family and friends.

What inspired you to want to become a writer?
My dad, no two ways about it. He was an English teacher and the creative writing director at Pepperdine University for almost three decades, so writing wasn’t just something you learned at school in my house. It was a basic building block of life. I went to bed night after night hearing my father rap away on his computer (or typewriter in the early days) in his office next door. To this day, I find the sound of typing to be soothing and comforting. When I was four or five, I wrote my first story. It was in red crayon and was about a parrot. My dad read it and, being a great guy and an educator, sat down with me and talked to me about storytelling. I’ve been hooked ever since.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Gosh, that’s a tough one. A few amazing things that happened to me were getting feedback on my YA novel BILLY: MESSENGER OF POWERS from Brandon Mull (FABLEHAVEN and BEYONDERS) and Orson Scott Card (ENDER’S GAME), both of whom had nice things to say about it; and getting a really nice cover blurb from James Dashner (THE MAZE RUNNER). All three of them are wonderful folks as well as good writers, so it meant that much more to hear it from them. Another great moment was when my book RUN went to number one on both amazon’s horror and sci-fi bestseller lists. To realize that I was outselling Stephen King on amazon for a while was beyond surreal.

What was your favorite book when you were a child/teen?
ENDER’S GAME, by Orson Scott Card. I still pick it up and read it from time to time, and often use it to introduce people who claim to hate reading to the fun they can have with the right book.

What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?
WRITE! The only way to be a writer is to WRITE. And write. And write, and write, and write. Making money doesn’t make you a writer. Getting published doesn’t make you a writer. The ONLY thing that makes you a writer is putting words on a page. And the more words you put on that page, the better they are going to get.
Also, buy my books. Ha!

What is your favorite Quote?
I have two favorite quotes, and I don’t know who said either of them. Maybe I came up with them and didn’t realize it, thus making me super smart. Hyuk. But even if someone else didn’t say them, I say them all the time, so I’m going to say they qualify.
Quote 1: One of the greatest tragedies of human existence is that love is so often felt, but so rarely expressed.
Quote 2: The only way to tell that you’re a “real” writer is if sometimes the only thing worse than writing is NOT writing.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you “grew up”?
Believe it or not, I always wanted to be a writer. I had some detours along the way, and have worked in a variety of fields, but storytelling has always appealed to me, and the idea of making a living that way has been a dream from the first.

Can you see yourself in any of your characters?
I can see myself in most of them. Not that I do magic or am a serial killer (depending on the book you’re reading), but I do take pieces of myself and put them into everyone that I write. I don’t think you can help but do that. Who you are colors what you do, and that holds true with writers as much as for everyone. Sometimes it’s even more blatant. In one of my books, RUN, two characters have a conversation about what the worst word in the world is (it’s not the one you think), that came almost verbatim from a chat I had with a college buddy. In THE MERIDIANS, a thriller, there is an interior monologue one of the heroines has about the fact that her husband constantly steals the sheets, and that came directly from my experiences with my wife, who constantly claims that I do that. She’s lying, by the way. I never do that.
Point being, good or bad, the people in my book come from one place: me. That worries me sometimes, since some of the people in my books are legitimately disturbed people. But that also balances with the fact that some of the characters give me (and hopefully others) great hope for the future.

What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you?
Best advice, or best WRITING advice? Well I’ll answer both. The best advice I ever got was from my wife, who told me we were NOT breaking up, but should think about getting married. The best writing advice was from my dad, who told me that, when writing, I should imagine that every word costs me a thousand dollars. That really makes me think carefully about my word choices.

Hidden talent?
I play a mean nose flute. Don’t tell anyone.

What was your favorite children’s book?
Ack! What a horrible question! That’s like asking which of my kids I prefer. I love so many. THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA are wonderful. HARRY POTTER is a blast. I’m reading the ENCYCLOPEDIA BROWN series with my kids, and having so much fun with that. And I have to admit that I really enjoy BILLY: MESSENGER OF POWERS. Some of my books I don’t go back and look at once they’re done, but BILLY is one that I return to periodically. Part of that is because I think it’s a good book, and part of that is because I wrote it specifically as a present to my wife, so the love I feel for her infuses it.

How do you react to a bad review?
Never had one.
Okay, okay. Just kidding. In all seriousness, I guess I probably react the same as anyone else. I cry a little, then I put the person’s name on my “To Be Killed” list.

Which authors have influenced you most?
Orson Scott Card, Dean Koontz, and P.G. Wodehouse. How’s THAT for an eclectic mix?

What do you do in your free time?
I’m a dad. There’s no such thing.

Favorite sport?
I love MMA and martial arts sports. Most people would answer baseball, basketball, etc., but as a kid I discovered that I am what the politically correct would probably call “Ball Challenged.” Basically, if it involves any kind of spherical (or football shaped) object, I turn into a complete doof and can’t tell my hands from my feet. But I’ve practiced martial arts for much of my life, and I love doing it and watching others do it.

If you had 24 hours alone how would you spend it?
Pizza at my favorite pizza place. Some good frozen yogurt with M&Ms on it. Reading a book. Going to a movie. Taking as many naps as possible. And going to the bathroom with the door unlocked. Because I’m a dad, and when I became a dad I discovered that my children believed that all bathroom activities were team sports.

In your wildest dreams, which author would you love to co-author a book with?
Dean Koontz. Not only because he tells some wonderful stories and is a great craftsman, but because he is a legitimately neat and kind guy. That sounds weird to some people, because they have this image of suspense/horror writers as wild-eyed madmen who sleep in coffins and spend all their time thinking up evil things. But the reality is that some of the nicest people I’ve ever met are suspense/horror writers. Dean has been an incredibly kind and generous person as long as I’ve had the pleasure of knowing him, and I can’t think of something much more fun that working on something with him.
Runner up? Probably Brandon Mull, whom I grew up with and think is just one of the nicest people in the universe. Great imagination, even better sense of humor. A class act.

Print or Ebook?
I love them both. Though there’s something warm and cozy about tucking into bed with a good paperback in your hands, or opening a real book while sitting next to the fire, I can’t deny that I love being able to take hundreds of books with me wherever I go through my iPad and my Nook. Plus, the great majority of my success as a novelist has come from ebooks, so I have to root for the home team, as it were.

Horror or Romance?
HORROR. I go to meetings with producers periodically, and when asked what kind of things I write, I always respond “Everything but pornography and romance.” I don’t write pornographic materials because I think they are devastating to the human spirit and have wide reaching ill effects that harm everything they touch. And I don’t write romance because I write to escape from reality. And with my amazing wife, I live a romance, so why would I want to go there? I can’t possibly write a romance that even comes close to how I feel for her, let alone surpassing it, so why waste my time. Therefore, by process of elimination, I have to like horror better than romance.
Plus, horror rocks.

Action or Drama?
Depends on my mood. Sometimes I want nothing more than to see stuff get blowed up real good. Other times, a good drama is perfect. DRIVING MISS DAISY and BATMAN BEGINS both hold revered places in my movie collection.

Harry Potter or Twilight?
Harry Potter all the way. I’m not one of those people who hate Twilight, but I enjoy Harry Potter much more. Part of that is because of the sense of whimsy that pervades so much of it (I’m a big fan of whimsy). Part of it is because I think that Stephenie Meyer tells some really good stories… but tells them in a writing style that grates on me. So Team Edward and Team Jacob are both distant second place runners to Team Hogwarts.

Billy: Messenger of Powers

“BILLY WAS ONLY THIRTEEN YEARS OLD THE FIRST TIME HE DIED.”

And with those words the saga of Billy Jones begins with BILLY: MESSENGER OF POWERS.

Billy, like many of us, leads what he believes is a fairly normal life: trying to get through school, trying to deal with his first crush, and trying to avoid the bullies who seem intent on trying to prove he can be flushed down a toilet. But all that changes (or at least some of it) when Billy discovers that Powers walk among us.

These Powers (what you or I would call witches or warlocks) have divided into two camps: the Dawnwalkers, dedicated to the protection of humanity and the secrecy of the world of the Powers; and the Darksiders, who want nothing more or less than complete control of the world and the enslavement of all humanity.

For years the Darksiders and Dawnwalkers have lived in a state of uneasy truce: ever since the last War of the Powers, when the evil Darksider Wolfen was defeated and banished, cast out of the world of the Powers and ordered never to return.

But now there are whispers. There are stirrings. Portents.

Wolfen has returned.

The Darksiders are on the rise.

And Billy is the only one who can save the world.

Also by Michaelbrent Collings:

Giveaway Details
1 winner will win their choice of any one of Michaelbrent’s books listed here: http://michaelbrentcollings.com/
Paperback available to US or ebook Internationally
Ends 4/3/12

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