Myke Cole is the author of the Shadow Ops fantasy series: Control Point, Fortress Frontier, Breach Zone, and the forthcoming Gemini Cell.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you come to write Shadow Ops: Control Point and what gave you the idea to write a series?
I was working at the Pentagon at the time, and realizing that the military has a rule for EVERYTHING (from sneezing to brushing your teeth). On its face, this may seem ridiculous, but it makes sense. The military wields the power of deadly force. It MUST be rote and predictable. The American people MUST be able to say, without a doubt, when force will or will not be used. This kind of thing can’t be subject to opinion. There needs to be a rule, and in this one instance, it is better for a human to behave like a machine.
But humans are not machines, and life isn’t binary. That means that, inevitably, good people run afoul of the systems designed to protect them. They get steamrolled.
So, when I asked myself, what if they had a department of magic? What would that look like? Bureaucracy and the nature of military administration became the real issue I wanted to use fantasy to explore.
Boom. SHADOW OPS.
Of course, some of this was just plain old geekery. Throwing an Apache Longbow up against a Hill Giant is just friggin’ cool.
Your new novel Gemini Cell is set for release in the U.S. on January 27th of next year. What’s it about and where does it fit in the Shadow Ops universe?
GEMINI CELL takes place many years before CONTROL POINT, the first novel in the SHADOW OPS series. It has a whole new storyline and characters. The goal here was to write a book that would be original enough to hook new readers, but also give fans of the original series familiar ground to come home to. The magic system is a bit more occult, and there’s a touch of romance, but folks looking for my particular brand of high-octane action will be right at home.
Is Gemini Cell a good entry point for new readers to your books, or would you recommend new readers to start with Control Point?
It is absolutely an entry point. I specifically tried to set a fresh tone with this book, right down to changing the cover artist. It takes place BEFORE CONTROL POINT on purpose, I want to give readers a place to start without having to worry about having read anything else of mine first.
What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned from writing the Shadow Ops series?
That it’s my ship. I have an agent, I have a publisher, and I have legions of supportive fans. NONE of them can write my book for me, and NONE of them can promote it for me, and NONE of them can hold my work to the standard it must be held to in order to be as successful as I want it to be. That is entirely on me. I am fortunate enough to have great support, but in the end, my name goes on the book, and it succeeds or fails based on my efforts.
How often do you get the opportunity to write? Is it important for you to write everyday?
I write in the snatches of time I can grab between working for the police, running my Coast Guard unit and trying to do right by my myriad social obligations. This means that I take advantage of every free moment I can get, be it ten minutes or two hours. I wish I could say that I write every day, but it’s often impossible. Thank God for the miniaturization of the microprocessor. If it weren’t for mobile computing, my career woudn’t be possible.
Are you a ‘seat of your pants’ writer or do you like to know the direction of your novel/series beforehand?
I am an UBER-architect. I plan everything out in minute detail before writing any prose. I usually develop a 3 page treatment into a 30 page pitch into a 100 page outline before working that into a 400 page novel.
And, of course, the moment I sit down to write, it all goes to hell.
No plan survives contact with the enemy.
Do you have any advice to new writers hoping to get into the fantasy genre?
Lock it up and get to work. Go to your bookshelf and pick your favorite novel ever off of it. Take a long, good look at the cover. When you have written a book that is BETTER than that, *then* you are ready to worry about networking and agents and publishers and conventions. Until then, you’ve got polishing to do.
Any closing comments?
Admire the military? Join it. Don’t have time to go Active Duty? Join the Reserve. Don’t qualify for the Reserve? Join the Auxiliary. All five branches have one.
Thank you for your time.
Thanks for having me!