Hello Readers and Writers!
We would like to introduce you to an author who believes thrillers should be more than just gun fights and throw downs. His debut novel tackles the tough issue of women's reproductive rights and how political involvement effect women's choices. A playwright, short story and non-fiction writer, this author embraces his talents in the craft!
Introducing Mike Fine!
When did you start writing as a career?
I started writing when my children were born because I wanted to create some kind of permanent memory of the special times in their lives. I felt like journaling would be too clinical, so I decided to write short stories and short fiction pieces that involved them but were more entertaining. It turned out I thoroughly enjoyed writing, and I’ve been doing it ever since.
What's your current work in progress?
It’s still in the very early stages, but I am planning a sequel to my novel, “Children of Hope.” The subject matter will shift from abortion to contraception, but Hope Hunter, the hero, will continue to fight dirty and utilize her medical expertise in her attempt to right another kind of injustice.
Your debut novel, Children of Hope is a thriller. What led you to write in that genre?
I love to read thrillers, especially political, medical, and legal thrillers, so it was natural for me to write in that genre. That said, I’ve had my fill of books where the hero just happens to be an ex-Navy Seal or somehow knows how to use a machine gun, fly a plane that’s crashing, or blow things up with nothing more than bleach, an avocado, and a Kleenex. Someone once said something to the effect that if everyone in real life had a gun, 90% of fiction would suddenly be uninteresting. So, in my books there’s usually more of a “game of chess” between opponents who don’t clash or fight in a physical way, but rather compete in their efforts to shape the world according to their opposing world views.
Children of Hope tackles some tough subject matter. Why did you feel compelled to cover these topics?
Sadly, I’ve watched the all-out assault on women’s dignity, freedom, and reproductive rights for decades. When I read an article about artificial womb technology, I immediately flashed to the question, “What if men could get pregnant?” The answer seems clear: laws in this country would be drastically different. Once I had the image in my mind of the hero “impregnating” a powerful conservative Senator (on national TV), the book practically wrote itself.
Do you have any plans to write in different genres?
A friend once joked that everyone “goes to the seashore” or “sings Kumbaya” in my short stories. As a general rule, they’re wholesome and corny and sappy. I proudly own that. By comparison, all of my ideas for novels are darker and edgier, and typically involve large societal concerns. At least right now, the next four or five novels I want to write are all thrillers that make strong social statements.
How does your book rebel against the status quo?
Misogyny is real. The laws in the United States reflect this misogyny. There’s no two ways about it. My story calls this issue into stark relief, and my hero and her motley crew of collaborators resort to vigilantism and dirty tactics to “fight the good fight.” By comparison—and I love this irony—the antagonist spends much of the book giving hundreds of millions of dollars to charities! White is black and black is white.
You're also a playwright! Talk to us about Building a Bridge.
Many years ago, I wrote a short story (http://blackfoxbooks.com/building-a-bridge) that is a kind of parable for my relationship with my wife. She is quite “right brained” and I am definitely “left-brained.” In the story, a king’s vision to build a bridge between “the East” and “the West” in his land is only realized when he takes the best of both mindsets. I love the idea that great things (a solid marriage, a fictional bridge) involve all types of people getting together. A few years later, I had the idea of adapting the story into a stage play. And, of course, it needed to be a musical! I re-worked the story into a script and then took a stab at writing the lyrics to the songs. I found a talented musician, Nate Gross, on the Internet (yes, really!) who wrote music to accompany my lyrics. The script and music can be found at http://www.buildingabridgeplay.com/.
You've also released a non-fiction book for young writers. Tell us about that.
When my kids were in elementary school, over the course of each year, they would come home with dozens of Xeroxed copies of various writing resources. A friend (who became my co-author) and I felt like these should all be bundled up, combined with some other materials, and made available as part a single “toolkit” for students. “Young Writers’ Toolkit” (http://youngwriterstoolkit.com/) was born.
Do you plan writing goals?
My best results have come from the times when I have set specific goals or deadlines (including the time I wrote a custom, personalized short story for a friend who was getting married; talk about having a firm deadline!). Sadly, I don’t set specific goals or milestones nearly often enough…
Talk to me about the path you choose in publishing.
When my co-author and I published “Young Writers’ Toolkit,” we didn’t think a traditional publisher would agree to publish the book, so we read up on self-publishing and felt like we could do it. While the process isn’t hard, there are a great many steps and it takes tenacity to see a project through. For my novel, I decided that since I’ve already been through the process once, I could do it again. All of that said, if this novel is successful, I will likely try to get a traditional publisher to publish my next book(s).
What are you reading currently?
The Myron Bolitar series of novels by Harlan Coben. This is probably my third or fourth time through the series. I love the repartee between Myron and his friend, Win. Coben is a master of clever, edgy, and funny dialogue.
What can readers expect from you in the future?
I have a collection of four or five relatively flushed out ideas for novels, and I hope to finish them over the coming years. Like “Children of Hope,” these are all thrillers that make strong social statements. As well, I expect I’ll continue to write short stories (many for children) as they come to me, since I love that I can write them and call them “done” on a relatively frequent basis!