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Interview with Michael K. Falciani

Michael K. Falciani

He grew up in upstate New York underneath a canopy of evergreen trees. He spent his formative years playing all manner of sports and committing his time spent with family. After a nine year stint in the army, Michael finished his degree in education and has spent the last 23 years teaching.

Always an avid reader, Michael was drawn to the wondrous worlds of epic fantasy when his father introduced him to “The Hobbit” at an early age. After devouring a variety of novels, Michael turned his hand to writing one of his own. His first book, The Raven and the Crow: Dark Storm Rising, was born while he worked at a steel mill on the parched desert sands of Nevada. Twenty-five years later that spark of an idea came to fruition.

Q.1 Tell us something about yourself not many people know?
I was an all-state triple jumper and sang in the all-state choir.

Q.2 Are we going to read more from you in the near future? Any new project you’re working on?
I have a slew of books coming out. My first, The Raven and the Crow: Dark Storm Rising, is the first of a planned six-book series. The second book, titled The Raven and the Crow: The Gray Throne, debuts on February 4th of 2022. 

I have a short story called, Hell Hath No Fury, in my publisher’s new anthology, It Came From the Trailer Park. I recently finished a new steampunk epic fantasy novel where dwarves are my main characters. It is tentatively titled, The Dwarves of Rahm: Omens of War. I am extremely excited for that to come out. I am currently working on the third novel in my, The Raven and The Crow universe, and I have a smattering of other projects coming up.

Q.3 What inspired you to write The Raven and The Crow series?
I always knew I wanted to be a writer. This series in particular takes a look at families and how they deal with one another. There is magic and swordplay in it of course, along with high adventure. In the end though, this series boils down to fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, and every family aspect in between.

Q.4 What is the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
It can be very difficult. Especially writing women that are complex characters dealing with, in some circumstances, a male-dominated world. The thing I find most challenging is conveying how women communicate with one another without speaking. When I’m at work I am generally the only male in the room. The ladies around me are shooting each other looks all day long and I can never figure out what is going on! However, it does give me some insight into how their minds work. I’m not an expert by any means, but at least I get to witness the ladies I work with firsthand.

Q.5 How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?
Ahh, the ever-raging argument of plotting or pantsing. I answer by saying, “I plot so I can pants!” I generally plot ahead of time. Once I’m ready to write, I leave it open to be flexible with my ideas and this gives me a chance to write by the seat of my pants. If I get stuck, or I’m not sure where I’m going, I like to take long hikes and hammer out the ideas I have in my head and then get back to work once it makes sense.

Q.6 How many books have you written? Which one is your favorite?
So far I have written three books along with a handful of short stories. I love them all, but if I had to pick one, I’d have to go with my Dwarf novel. It was just a ton of fun to write. Even now when I read through it I love the way it comes together. 

I was tired of dwarves and their enemies being so two-dimensional in other books. They have been used in fantasy as comic relief or dour grumblers. I wanted to break the mold with my dwarves and their enemies. I truly enjoyed coming up with my own ideas and characters when it came to all the races in this book.

Q.7 What was the hardest part of writing this series?
As with any epic fantasy, the world is huge. There is so much to it and the history of the place is immense, more than I ever expected. I have to write down everything these days because I’m always going back to something I referenced in my previous work and need to keep it all straight. Having said that, it is also fun to come up with world history. I love ancient history so I try and dig into what I’ve learned to help me along once in a while.

Q.8 Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
I got started late with my writing so I imagine I’d be doing what I do now. Teach, work out, and read, read books until I can’t anymore. I might even become an audiobook voice actor. Can you imagine reading and getting paid to do it!

Q.9 If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead role?
I’d have to say Aaron Taylor-Johnson who played Quicksilver in The Avengers: Age of Ultron. He has the right mix of physicality and temperament for the role. That character has a massive range of emotions to deal with and I think he would do well portraying the character of Kildare.

Q.10 Is it vital to get exposure and target the right readers for your writing, tell us about your marketing campaign?
I think marketing is very important to anyone writing. You can be the greatest writer in the history of the world, but if no one reads it, no one will know! My own marketing campaign has been to use the social media platforms of Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok. 

I also do book readings and signings whenever I can. This is where I sell the most books. It helps build my base of readers and gives them the chance to meet me personally. It’s not just about selling the book, you are often selling yourself.

Q.11 If you could be a member of any fantasy race, which would you choose and why?
I know everyone picks dragons or elves and those races have their selling points. I’d go ahead and pick a dwarven engineer. Think of it, you live an extended life and get to blow stuff up all day long! No need to dig in the dirt. I’d be out there living the dream and mixing it up with everyone!

Q.12 What is one stereotype about fantasy writers is absolutely wrong? What one stereotype is dead on?
I can’t speak on every fantasy writer, but for me, it’s that I spent most of my life as an athlete in school and throughout adulthood. I’ve coached so many different sports I feel like I’m pretty proficient in all of them.

I think most folks think fantasy writers are stuck behind their computers and spend all their time coming up with complex magic systems. That’s not really me. A stereotype that is dead on is 99.9% of fantasy writers I have met are introverted and HATE speaking publicly!

Q.13 If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Stay FOCUSED. Sigh…I know me though. It would fall on deaf ears. Young me is a hard-headed idiot!

Q.14 Among all the supporting characters in your book, who is dear to you and why?
Tough to choose as I love them all. However, I have a character named Terran in The Raven and the Crow series who is a young, half-blind, and half deaf girl. The side of her face was savaged by a rabid dog when she was a child. However, throughout the book, she slowly finds out who she is, and at several points in the story, everything hinges on her. I love writing that character. She is an inspiration, even to me and I made her up!

Q.15 Who designed your book cover? How do you select him/her?
This is one of my favorite things to talk about with my book. The cover was designed by a student at the local high school. I contacted the teacher of the graphic art class and we held a contest. The winner would get to sign a contract with my publisher and have their artwork used throughout the world.

We had over forty students enter. My goodness, what a contest. We ended up picking two. One got the cover and the other has her work chosen as the logo that will be used throughout the series. Hat’s off to both my publisher, who loved the idea, and to the teacher who did a great job working with the kids. My second book cover has been designed in the same way. Good lord, these kids have talent!

Q.16 How do you select the name of your characters?
Some of them require a ton of time because I want to get the names right. Other times they just come to me. I have this new habit of listening to the names of my students and I often change a letter or two and use them. More than one child has been the inspiration for some of the names I use!

Q.17 Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with good or bad ones?
I do read them. I try to take the good with the bad. So far I have been lucky and had the vast majority be good reviews. My only issue is if you leave a bad review, please say what you didn’t like. I might not agree with you, but at least I’ll know. One reader left me a review saying I believe too much in civil rights and multiculturalism for his taste. If thinking all humans have rights and should be treated fairly, then yes, I’m guilty.

Q.18 Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
A. Benedict Arnold
. I know he’s supposed to be the most famous traitor in American history, but I’ve read plenty about him. I’m not saying what he did was right, but the guy had some valid issues that his superiors did not handle well. I’d like to hear things from his perspective.

Q.19 What is your favorite book from other authors and why?
A. Ravenheart
by David Gemmell is the only book to ever move me to tears. He is my favorite author and that is his best book. He showed me the kind of author I wanted to be.

Q.20 Share the experience of your journey so far?
I worked for 25 years on my first book. I finished my next one in 6 months. Granted I have more time now, but still, I am glad I got it out more quickly than the first. At 49 years of age, I am still learning about the book industry. All I can say is I am enjoying the ride. I know there will be tough parts, but I am going to continue to write and work to get better.

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