HeadshotMyke Cole is the author of the military fantasy-series „Shadow Ops“. Connecting his military experience with his love for fantasy novels he has managed to invent a world not so different from ours, but with magic. Luckily for Lazy Literature he has managed to take some time off and answer a few questions. (Photo: Copyright Tim Lundin)

How do your military experiences help you write your novels?

The obvious answer is that it allows me to have a more authentic voice in describing military scenarios. But the deeper answer is that military experience gave me the fortitude and cold anger necessary to push through against impossible odds (and that’s what getting a book deal is. You have a better chance of being struck by lightning). I am being completely serious when I say that, if not for the military, I would never have become a writer. I wrote an essay on this topic in two parts. The first part is here.

Which power would you like to have if you could choose among the various types of magic?

I get asked this question a lot, and nobody ever likes my answer. The truth is, in the SHADOW OPS universe, to be Latent is to be outside society. Sorcerers are respected and feared, but nobody wants to date one, nobody wants to have one over for dinner. I am an enormously social person. Participating in society, in social institutions, is critical for my mental and emotional health. To be Latent is to be forever outside society. That would kill me.

Was it planned to write more than one book?

I never thought that way. I focussed on getting a single book PERFECT. I knew that anything less wouldn’t make the sale. I figured I’d write as many books as they’d pay me to write if I ever could just get that first one sold. But the main focus was always on the one book. I think that was really helpful in taking me over the top.

Fitzy is an extremely unlikeable character. Did you have a trainer like him and if yes, how did you manage to overcome that?

Fitzy may be an extremely unlikeable character, but he is a highly effective instructor. MIlitary training is designed to put you in situations that test you to your limits. You have to be willing to take orders from people you hate, ESPECIALLY from people you hate. Personal enmity cannot break down the command structure in the middle of a firefight. Fitzy was a composite of many instructors I had. Some I hated (because I knew they truly wished me ill), and some I loved (because I knew that even while they were screaming at me, they wanted me to succeed). In all cases, I only dealt with them one way: I listened. I obeyed. I learned. And I got better.

Marty the Goblin shows that not all creatures on the strange plane are the same. Your hero Oscar Britton learns this lesson when he is taught control over his magic. How did you learn this lesson?

I’ll never forget when I first arrived in Iraq and came under indirect fire from Jaysh al-Mahdi. JAM warriors are Shi’a fighting for their leader Muqtada al-Sadr. I came to Iraq to fight al-Qa’ida, a Sunni extremist group. They HATE Shi’a. These were a totally different group of people who I knew almost nothing about, and yet here I was locked in combat with them. It was then that I truly understood how incredibly complicated the war was. There’s a lot of that in Britton’s early experiences in the Source.

Which novels and authors have influenced you the most?

That is impossible to answer. There are SO MANY. There’s T.H. White. There’s Lloyd Alexander. There’s Brooks and Tolkien and Piers Anthony. There’s John Christopher. There’s Francois Rabelais. There’s Martin and Lawrence and Abercrombie and Lynch and Polansky and Novik and Hobb and Scalzi and Campbell and even that awful man Orson Scott Card. Top of the heap? My brother and best friend, Peter V. Brett. If you haven’t checked out his Das Lied der Dunkelheit, you should drop whatever you’re doing and go read it.

Do you get fanmail from Germany?

Sometimes, and it always staggers me to know that I’m reaching people in another language so many miles away. I LOVE hearing from German fans and I answer every email. Please feel free to write me.

What novels/ comic books/ audiobooks would you recommend and are you reading at the moment?

Let me do one of each. I’ve already recommended Pete’s book, so I’ll add Daniel Polansky’s LOW TOWN to the list (it’s called THE STRAIGHT RAZOR CURE) in the UK. It’s dark and funny and harrowing and devastating and one of the best new voices in fantasy in a long, long time. For comics, try Joe Hill’s LOCKE AND KEY. He’s a wicked blend of horror, drama and a flight of fantasy that’s fresh in its ability to transport. Reading it makes me feel 14 again. I am currently reading the Advanced Read Copy of Scott Lynch’s REPUBLIC OF THIEVES. If you haven’t read his LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA, go fix that.

What can your German readers expect from the third novel of Shadow Ops – „Breach Zone“ and what is your next project?

Sadly, my deal with Piper thus far is only for KONTROLLPUNKT and GRENZFESTE. I am hopeful we’ll get a ZONENDURCHBRUCH at some point. Lean on those guys for me, won’t you? I am currently working on a dark medieval fantasy with young female protagonist. The working title is THE FRACTURED GIRL and I’m about 40,000 words in.

Do you want to tell your readers something else?

Yes. I *love* Germany. Years ago, I did regular temporary assignments to Graffenwoehr. During that time I lived in Weiden and absolutely fell in love with the place. I have never felt as home as in a foreign country as I did in Germany. I spent a magnificent weekend in Nuremburg which I still remember as one of the best in my life. I dream about coming back all the time and am so psyched to think that my writing might one day give me the chance. Thank you so so so much for reading me in German.

Thank you very much for this interview.