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Interview with Russ Colchamiro, author of sci-fi comedy ‘Genius De Milo’

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Russ ColchamiroRuss Colchamiro is the author of the rollicking space adventure Crossline, the hilarious scifi backpacking comedy Finders Keepers, and the outrageous sequel, Genius de Milo, all with Crazy 8 Press.

Russ lives in West Orange, NJ, with his wife, two children, and crazy dog, Simon, who may in fact be an alien himself. Russ is now at work on the final book in the Finders Keepers trilogy.

As a matter of full disclosure, readers should not be surprised if Russ spontaneously teleports in a blast of white light followed by screaming fluorescent color and the feeling of being sucked through a tornado. It’s just how he gets around — windier than the bus, for sure, but much quicker.

His latest book is the science fiction novel, Genius De Milo.

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About the Book:

Genius De Milo 2Best pals Jason Medley and Theo Barnes barely survived a backpacking trip through Europe and New Zealand that — thanks to a jar of Cosmic Building Material they found — almost wiped out the galaxy. But just as they envision a future without any more cosmic lunacy:

The Earth has started fluxing in and out of existence, Theo’s twin girls are teleporting, and Jason can’t tell which version of his life is real.

All because of Milo, the Universe’s ultimate gremlin.

Joined by the mysterious Jamie — a down-and-out hotel clerk from Eternity — Jason and Theo reunite on a frantic, cross-country chase across America, praying they can retrieve that jar, circumvent Milo, and save the Earth from irrevocable disaster.

In author Russ Colchamiro’s uproarious sequel to Finders Keepers, he finally confirms what we’ve long suspected — that there’s no galactic Milo quite like a Genius de Milo.

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Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Russ Colchamiro.  Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?

Russ: I have several books in publication. My novels include the scifi backpacking comedies Finders Keepers and Genius de Milo -– think American Pie/Midnight Run meets Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy — and the scifi mystery adventure, Crossline –- think Flash Gordon meets Escape from New York. I also contributed a short story to the Crazy 8 Press wizards and demons anthology Tales of the Crimson Keep.

Q: When you were published for the first time, which route did you go – mainstream, small press, vanity published or self-published and why or how did you choose this route?

Russ: I was in deep negotiations with three mid- to large-size publishers, who all wanted Finders Keepers, but because of the economic downturn they all cut back on their production. They all said that if the economy had been better they would have signed me on the spot. So I wound up going with a small indie publisher, Three Finger Prints.

Q: How long did it take you to get published once you signed the contract?

Russ: Once we agreed, it took about six months to produce Finders Keepers and get it published and ready for sale.

Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?

A: Finders Keepers debuted in October 2010, just two months after my twins were born. So the boring truth is that I didn’t do a whole of extra celebrating. I had my hands full, both figuratively and literally!

Q: What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?

Russ: Let out a deep breath!

Q: Since you’ve been published, how have you grown as a writer and now a published author?

Russ: I’m far more efficient. I have a much better sense of what the story needs and what it doesn’t need, so I’m not wasting nearly as much time with content that will never make the final version. I’m also getting much stronger at pacing, finding the right balance between pushing the plot forward but also taking enough time to develop the characters so that the readers are invested in the outcome.

I tend to write complex, interlocking character arcs and storylines into the overall narrative, so I’ve had to force myself to really focus on what’s most important, and then build around it.

Q: What has surprised or amazed you about the publishing industry as a whole?

Russ: I published Finders Keepers in October 2010. I didn’t know it then, but it was right before e-books took over the market … and also in the middle of what turned out to be the biggest economic downturn in a century. Not what I’d call ideal timing! As I said above, I originally published (print and e-book) though a small indie publisher, Three Finger Prints, but despite the economy I had success right away.

I was able to land a national distribution contract (uncommon for a first-time author), with Finders Keepers carried by several Barnes & Noble stores throughout the country. Finders Keepers also received very supportive write-ups by Publishers Weekly, and I was one of only a half dozen authors globally to be invited by Wattpad to become one of their featured authors.

And then right after Finders Keepers debuted, e-books revolutionized the way readers digest novels, and for authors it’s been an entirely new and ever-changing world since then. I wound up reprinting Finders Keepers through Crazy 8 Press so that I now have my entire catalogue under one imprint, and control all of the rights, which is nice.

Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a published author?

Russ: I take a certain pride in having brought my ideas to the page in a way that others can enjoy. Or ridicule! Ha. But seeing my books on a shelf, in someone’s home, or in a bookstore, or available online, let’s me know that I set my mind to accomplishing something that was important to me, and that I did it as well as I knew how to do — and was able to do — at the time that I did it.

Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?

Russ: Write because you love it, write for yourself, and write every day. And if you can make money at it … all the better.

On a more technical level, work with beta readers and editors who will give you actionable feedback that helps you improve the story you’re working on — and your craft — in very specific ways.

If you’re getting feedback like, “oh, that was good,” or “it wasn’t for me,” then they’re not really helping you.

Be highly selective, choosing people who will tell you what you actually need to hear, not what you want to hear. And keep your world of trusted ‘advisors’ on the small side. Feedback from too many people will distract and confuse you.

Being an author is a lot of work, so try to have as much as you can along the way, and unlike me, celebrate every step along the way. We writers need as much encouragement as we can get!

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