Hey there everyone. Next week sees the release of We Are Mayhem (read the review here), the second instalment in the epic ‘Black Star Renegades’ series. To celebrate, author Michael Moreci very kindly took the time to answer a few questions about the book, the series, and some other random junk I was curious about. Enjoy…
Librarian: How was the transition from writing comics to writing novels? In what ways to you prefer one over the other, if at all?
Michael Moreci: I’m lucky in that, though most people don’t know this, I have a background in writing prose. So, writing Black Star Renegades was by no means alien to me. That isn’t to say it was easy, but I had experience going in—I have a MA in creative writing from Northwestern University, and I wrote (mercifully unpublished) a novel while I was there. And I’ve written a good amount of shorts since.
In terms of preference, here’s the thing—I like the process of writing books better. Writing prose is far more enjoyable than writing a comic script, as the latter is more or less—stylistically—simply instructions for the artist. But, overall, I enjoy the comics experience more, as I truly love the collaboration between writer and artist.
L: How has the Black Star Renegades saga come together? Did it begin with the characters? Plot?
MM: I think it started with the basic concept of “imagine Star Wars, but without Luke Skywalker.” Obviously, it’s a Star Wars homage in some ways, but it’s a deconstruction in others. I wanted to kinda tear up the messiah complex while also telling a rip-roaring space adventure tale. That’s where I started, in wanting to satisfy both these sides, the homage and the deconstruction. Because even though the book is deliberately commenting on something intrinsic to the Star Wars narrative, I found it equally important to have fun, to populate the story with lively characters, big action, and light-hearted humor.
L: What gets your creative juices flowing?
But, seriously, I really don’t believe in the idea of creativity, per say. Not in the sense of being kissed by the muses or anything like that. I just like to work—writing is work. And I’m at my desk, five days a week, for at least eight hours a day, doing the job of writing.
L: Of course there is one famous piece of popular culture that has influenced this series, but from where else did you draw inspiration?
MM: A few things—in addition to the obvious stuff, there’s also a lot of Arthurian mythology in the story (I mean, it’s no accident that two character are named Tristan and Percival). One of the greatest things about the Arthur legend is the way he recognized that he wasn’t the best—he wasn’t a god or something of the sort. With that knowledge, Arthur surrounded himself with people who were his equal, if not his better, and sat them at a round table—so there’s no head. That idea of unity and recognizing you can’t lead as a solitary figure plays heavily into Black Star Renegades.
L: What was the most difficult part of the series to write so far?
The beginning. It sounds funny, but it really took me a long time to find the voice of this book; I wanted something that matched my own energy and enthusiasm, some way of writing that really moved and conveyed the upbeat tone of the book. It was hard, really hard. But once I settled on it, I think it served the story really well.
L: Has there been anything that had to be edited out?
There has been, a number of things. One of my favorite lost bits is a prologue that originally focused on Ga Halle, searching for the Rokura. Ultimately, it just didn’t work.
L: Shout out to another author that we should check out?
MM: Myke Cole is all kinds of awesome, and Mike Chen is a rising star that every sci-fi fan should be reading.
L: Which of the Black Star Renegades do you most relate to? Why?
MM: Probably Kira. She’s doggedly determined, underestimated, but could fly higher is she just played by the rules—but she can’t, and that holds her down, in a way. But that’s why I love her—I love people who, like me, play by their own rules and refuse to bow down to “The Man.”
L: Do you hide (or have you thought about hiding) any secrets / easter eggs in your books?
MM: There’s tons of easter eggs in Black Star Renegades! Battlestar references, Mass Effect, Star Trek, Arthuruan legend—there’s tons of stuff in there.
L: What would you consider a success for Black Star Renegades series? How would you feel about the series being turned into a TV/Movie series?
MM: Honestly, I feel like the series is a success. We (meaning my publisher, agent, and I) went into this with modest expectations. I’m a first-time author writing a book that isn’t quite sci-fi in the strictest sense, but it’s not totally mainstream either. We’re somewhere in-between. And, still, the book has performed great for a year straight, and counting (for which I’m immensely grateful). I’m thrilled people have discovered it and, for the most part, enjoyed it. That’s really all I can ask for.
And if Hollywood wants to throw some money at me, who am I to say no…
L: What’s your favourite food to eat while writing?
MM: Sour Patch Kids. I’m a child. It’s a habit impulse—though it beats smoking, which I no longer do.
L: Has anything from your life made it into the series somehow?
MM: Not really. I mean, my experience and perspective on things is baked into the book, all over the place—that’s unavoidable. But there’s nothing that I can think of that’s exactly autobiographical, and I prefer it that way.
L: What’s the best book you’ve read that was hiding behind an awful book cover?
MM: I remember the first time I picked up a Vonnegut book, Sirens of Titan, and the cover was so terrible. But it turned out to be one of the best books I’ve ever read.
L: What music do you think would be good to listen to while reading We are Mayhem?
M: Oh boy—get ready. I write to some classy music, let me tell you, and it fits the reading experience. There’s Boston, Zeppelin, The Clash, Elastica, CCR, ELO. Basically, all the eight-track hits!
L: What would you hope for readers to take away from this latest instalment?
M: You know, my favorite part of We Are Mayhem is the exploration of what it means to do the right thing and the responsibility it puts on you. It’s not easy being good, not at all, and it’s often complicated. And I like that the book explores the messiness in this pursuit. Also, I just want them to have fun. A lot of sci-fi tends to be really, really serious. And that’s okay! But, you know—sometimes it’s okay to turn up the music and jam to Boston, too.
‘We are Mayhem’ is released on Tuesday April 9th by St. Martin’s Press