Thursday, February 7, 2013

Michael J. Rigg : The Author Interview

Once again the fabulous world of Twitter helped connect me to an author whose project I found very intriguing. Let's see what Michael J. Rigg has to say....

Tell us a little about yourself:
My "writing life" didn't start until college. I had to pass on limited scholarship to USC Film School and ended up going to a local college to major in Radio and TV Communications. During that time I had an awesome one-on-one creative writing course with a professor who told me that most, if not all, of my filmmaking idols at the time had started off as students of the WRITTEN WORD. He told me Stanley Kubrick, Woody Allen, Steven Spielberg, all cut their creative film teeth through writing. He also pointed out that you can do so much more "filmmaking" inside the head of a reader. No actors or actresses, set designers, costumes, union camera operators, weather, special effects, budgets.... Whatever I said on paper became LIFE. I was enthralled by this obvious epiphany and set abut writing a stream of short stories that hit one rejection after another.

And then, the next semester, I switched my major to Writing and my minor to Philosophy and Communications. It was a decision that would set the tone for all my future writing projects as I absorbed so much from my minors and only vaguely held on to the mechanics of my major.

I was one of only eight students in the bold new novel writing course -- because no one had the "guts" to take on a project tens of thousands of words long. I was the only student in my class to finish a novel and was delighted at how easy it was. As my professor said (and he quoted from someone else whom I don't recall), "The larger the project, the easier the writing, because you have 90,000 words to say what you want to say in a novel, but a poem.... In poetry you have to convey whole images and experiences in just a few short lines." That lesson stuck with me, and made me lazy.

I've written about nine or ten novels since I graduated college in 1987, but the only sales I've had were short stories and poetry. Irony.

For those of us who may not know, what is a 'blognovel'?
I LOVE to tell stories, and I love interacting with an audience like a stage performer, and I love writing novels. In 2007, I found a way to combine all of these things by writing a novel raw as a "published" first draft on the Internet. I coined the term "blognovel" (taking the credit only because at the time I searched and didn't find anything similar) and started building a small but encouraging fan base who "tuned in" every week to see how the next chapter would play out. My first "blognovel," August Winter ( was basically a "live" writing experiment. I had an idea for an opening scene but no outline and no plot. I started writing... and let the characters take over. The result got me surprising responses from friends I didn't know were reading it, and a couple of emails from other countries encouraging me to do more.

My Philosophy background -- as well as an interest in the "Near Death" phenomenon -- brought me to An Angel for Sara Dawn. My second blognovel, published in 2009 (, was my first foray into NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I finished the book -- which actually had more of an outline than August Winter -- within that month. Sara Dawn is one of my favorite projects and I'm looking forward to going back to it once I finish my next draft of Heart of Bronze.

As I wrote August Winter, and moreso during the production of An Angel for Sara Dawn, I realized I was getting a lot of useful encouragement and even criticism from readers around the globe. It was like having a host of critics, editors, fans and readers looking over my shoulder as I wrote, giving me advice, keeping me going, and feeding my Writing Monster. I loved it!

In 2011 I started Heart of Bronze, my first journey into a new genre.

What can you tell us about Heart of Bronze?
I'd never read anything "Steampunk," but I was familiar with the feeling and the concept of combining modern advancements with a pseudo-Victorian feel. It seemed like a fun thing to explore, so that's where I decided to go with Heart of Bronze. But it's more than that. I threw in some elements of romance, urban fantasy, sci-fi, war, thriller. It's kind of a "stew" story, and it was a blast to write.

Like with my earlier blognovels, I approached HoB with a simple "shell" of an idea, some characters and a few small scenes or situations. I was blown away by the responses I got from people who "subscribed" to the weekly serial about a woman who wakes up in an alternate history where airships and "SkyTrains" exist, where the South won the Civil War, and where grotesque experiments led to savage ghouls lurking the streets at night and young girls imbued with witchcraft. 

The biggest difference with HoB, compared to August and Sara, is that I asked my most loyal readers to contribute. Some character names, descriptions, and even the fate of the "bad guys" were all left to reader input. That was a lot of fun and kept people interested.

Is there another genre you would like to try at some point?
I've written horror, sci-fi, fantasy and now Steampunk. I think I'll stick with the latter for now, though I think there's a romance novel in me somewhere. I'm actually keeping that in mind for the re-write of Sara Dawn.

Do you have a writing ritual or a certain way you like to get ready to write?
I don't have a certain time of the day or night when I sit down to write, though during Heart of Bronze I did all of my writing in the mornings before work, between 6-8 a.m. That's when my brain was freshest. I usually put on over sized headphones and blast noise. Not music. Noise. During the last few chapters of HoB, I was actually listening to "airship engines." I used an app called "Sleep Machine" that allows you to combine sounds to create your own mix. I found that an Airplane Cabin + Fan (low) + Fan (hi) helped capture that open air airship feel. And, yes, I would turn my office ceiling fan on high to feel the air wash around me.

Tell us about one of your characters you loved writing:
I think my favorite character of all my books is Sara Dawn, but in Heart of Bronze it has to be Pandora -- which is kinda funny because she was from a contest. I wanted to let the readers introduce the next character to the story. I would choose randomly from the following criteria: Name, Gender, Age, Fate. A reader named Jackie suggested Pandora, female, teenager, unknown. From that, I created a feisty seventeen-year-old fighter pilot witch. She was a lot of fun and evolved the most of all the characters in HoB. She was also a reader favorite.

Thank you, Jackie!

Was there ever a time you felt like giving up? If so, what changed?
I never felt like giving up, but I often felt daunted. You know, there are days when you plain just don't feel like writing. You're tired, you're sick, you're not really feelin' it. I have one rule when it comes to writing: WRITE ONE WORD. That's all I require of myself every day. You'd be surprised how it's just as easy to write one sentence as it is one word. If it's a particularly bad day, and I feel a character or scene will suffer because I'm that much out of it, I'll open a new document and just dedicate myself to making notes or doing research.

The real "juice" behind getting Heart of Bronze done -- of keeping it going -- was in the reader interaction. Between chapters, I'd get emails from excited followers asking me what was going to happen next or telling me what they liked or didn't like about a previous chapter, or asking when it would be available on Kindle or Nook. Now THAT is inspiring.

What is your current obsession (absolutely anything)?
When I'm not telling stories through writing, I'm telling stories through games. I'm an avid roleplayer. I enjoy creating characters in a game and applying rich histories and backgrounds to them -- and interacting with others. My current poison is Star Wars The Old Republic. I'm a long-time fan and credit the original 1977 film for opening all the creative doors inside my head.

Where can readers find more about you?
I'm still working on a web site where I can consolidate all my work. 
I can be found on Facebook ,Twitter as @MichaelRigg and I'm always open to email (I answer every one that isn't spam) riggenterprises(at), or through my Heart of Bronze email, bronzenovel(at)

My blognovels and projects are: - Heart of Bronze - An Angel for Sara Dawn - August Winter

I'm currently working on the fourth edit of Heart of Bronze with a goal to release it as an e-book by the end of the year. Anyone interested in reading a rough draft can still find it as a blognovel at the address above.

Thanks so much for sharing with us today Michael! Best of luck with your blognovels!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the interview, Kate. It was great talking to you. I hope I inspire other writers to try the "live instant feedback" you get with a blognovel. - Mike