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About the Book
Zephyr tells the story of a cynical, smart-mouthed superhero kicking ass as the whole world goes mad around him. The place is Atlantic City: a sweeping longitudinal metropolis rebuilt following widespread devastation in 1984. Superhumans are not only real, they’re human. All too human, as Nietzsche would say…
With his daughter getting into the business and his wife showing him the door, it’s easy to wonder if Zephyr’s life might be easier without his ever-growing powers as supervillains, extradimensional invasions and city-shaking calamities derail his best efforts handling life in a celebrity-mad alternate universe where Manhattan’s a mutant-infested ruin and the Beatles were a superhero team.
Zephyr I is a sardonic, cinematic and intelligent take on the standard Marvel/DC-type superhero genre. Imagine if American Psycho was about costumed vigilantes rather than stockbrokers and you have half the idea.
In Volume 1, Zephyr faces financial pressure to reform his old superhero team, saves his best friend Twilight, endures sexual blackmail, reconciles his daughter’s expulsion from high school, and deals with a close betrayal at the same time the star-god Hariss as-Sama prepares for its assault on Atlantic City.
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Keep reading for an interview with the author:
Why did you decide to be a writer?
I didn't feel I had much choice. I've been writing compulsively since I was a kid and a lifelong interest in narrative, meaning and language has only compelled me further.
Do you have a "day job"?
I'm a newspaper journalist and editor in daily life and used to be an academic working in post-structuralist language theory at the interface between semiotic and psychoanalytic language theory.
What genres do you write?
Cross-genre is my favorite thing, with the (so far) seven-book Zephyr series a grab-bag, the superhero genre letting me bring in a wide and varied array of influences wrapped up in a cinematic action-storytelling kind of narrative.
How often do you write?
I write pretty much every day, though it's not always fiction because of work. Apart from newspaper reporting I've also been an essayist. Real life intrudes on my ideal writing structure, but it's generally good practice for writers to write every day, even if it's just a small burst to add to the word count. Writing's a lot like bricklaying and these things don't write themselves, so there's not much choice but to roll up the sleeves and get cracking.
Do you have a daily word or page count goal?
If I get an open run, the vomit draft of any manuscript has a daily word count of anywhere between 4k and 9k. I recommend writers get down at least 500 words per day, which is a nice ideal that doesn't always match up with the practicalities of daily life.
What is the quirkiest thing you've ever done while writing?
My Achilles heel seems to be putting headphones on and getting distracted by the work before I actually select any music.
What is the oddest thing you've ever researched for one of your books?
Let's just say there's a few Google searches I'd prefer not to have to explain, ever.
What is the most difficult thing you've ever researched?
I like to push the envelope in terms of transgressive fiction, but that doesn't necessarily mean I find some of those topics palatable. Once I start link-surfing it can lead almost anywhere. Complex historical matters (especially ones I plan to subvert through writing about parallel history) are always challenging, particularly coming from an outsider's perspective/knowledge about any given events. I find the level of gun violence oversees these days quite shocking and upsetting, and in general I struggle to comprehend the weird inversions we experience as a global culture, where talk of compassion quickly gives way to base tribalism the moment things turn difficult.
If you could choose an author to be your mentor, who would it be?
I'd like to have a seance with Stieg Larsson.
What is the biggest obstacle you face as an author and what do you do to overcome it?
These days, the saturation of the ebook market with so much rubbish is the biggest challenge to competent authors. Breaking through the white noise, while at the same time sometimes being shocked at the relatively low level of standards even readers demand from writers, is quite dispiriting. More than anything else though it's the question of visibility, which author interview sites such as yours really help address.
Does your family support you in your writing, or are you on your own?
It's a solitary game.
What is the best compliment you've ever received as an author?
Just read the reviews on Zephyr I and subsequent books. It's incredibly heartening to read reviews from readers who really "get it", especially when my work isn't always as easy to grok as some of the slightly more commercial books technically in the same genre.
What is the best writing advice you've ever received?
Make a list and prioritize.
What is the worst writing advice you've ever received?
Again with the saturation of people buying into the "hope machine" and believing they can retire and write for a living, the growing push towards "writing for market" is pretty awful. On the one hand it's good advice. You can't be hoping for commercial success without at least aiming at the target. On the other hand, it encourages a lot of writers to invest time and energy into soulless projects. The best books and the books which make the biggest impact on the market (in terms of forging new trends) always come from a place of passion, which is the integral and often missing ingredient that push books that 10% further into the realm of excellence. if you look at books like the Twilight series (I have to find a better example, since I am not much of a fan), or maybe The Walking Dead (better) they started as passion projects aimed first at pleasing their writers, and that kind of passion is vital to pushing work.
If you were stranded on a deserted island, and you could only have five books with you, what would they be?
I really only read non-fiction these days. I'd probably choose books by Jung, Nietzsche and Alexander Lowen because these are tools for daily life.