Interview with Louis Shalako

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in a small, grimy, northern industrial town. The incentives to leave were very strong, but in order to leave one must have a skill.
When did you first start writing?
I returned to school in 1983 to study Radio, TV and Journalism Arts, so I must have been writing sometime before that.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I like to invert things. In science fiction, the genre is full of evil empires, evil monsters, and evil men. I asked myself what would happen if a science fiction book was peopled with rational beings like you and me. In my latest book, (presently under submission to a major publisher) there are no evil geniuses whose sole motivation is that they are mentally ill. They are just two nice guys whose wrlds collide.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Initially, self-publishing represented a way forward. I had been offered four contracts by vanity publishers, and a reliable, family publisher with a good reputation had shown some interest in Shape Shifters and wanted Time Storm as an ebook. That fell through, mostly through lack of confidence on my part. I was one of the people that thought writing should be hard, and therefore what I wrote couldn't be that good. I'm not sure if my attitude has really changed, but I would like to write something worthwhile and compete at the highest international level, and yet I may not be cut out for corporate-style publishing.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
I won't consider myself a success until writing brings in enough money to get off a very small provincial disability pension.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
To write something and to laugh as I write it is something special, and to look back and see just how far my craft has come. Writers are not born, neither do they happen overnight. It's a long and painful process, not without rich rewards of an intangible nature.
What do your fans mean to you?
I try not to think in terms of fans in a personal sense. If they enjoyed the books and had no idea of who I am, that would be the best solution in my opinion. I'm a private guy, and the public performance required by modern social media is not really who I am.
What are you working on next?
I like writing short stories, which is a challenging genre. My next mystery novel hovers on the horizon at the time of this interview. There is some pressure to produce, which is better than doing nothing with my life.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Time is precious and I don't want to waste a minute of it.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I like swimming, cycling, and reading. I have an itch to get out in the wilderness that I have to scratch from time to time.
What is your writing process?
I usually just sit down and begin. After a few thousand words are on the page, I have eliminated certain possibilties. My books are pretty logical. The end of the book is a process of discovery for me. While it's nice to have an ending in mind, it's not exactly carved in stone, and I'm pretty flexible. Generally speaking, I write two to three hours a day, mostly in the evenings. I used to get up early and write until noon, but my circumstances and lifestyle have changed since then. I write less now, but I also write much better. I don't have to cut books now--I write them to the exact length. I usually know what I want ahead of time. Short stories are different. They seem to have a natural length and then I stop.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes, and it was very bad. It's kind of embarrassing, but I submitted that thing all over the place.
How do you approach cover design?
Being on an extremely tight budget, I do all my own images. I look forward to the day when I can afford a new computer, get Adobe CS-6 or whatever is current, and begin learning that. In the meantime, I upgrade images when I can. The learning curve is steep in cover design. My first covers were pretty awful.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
I read a lot of non-fiction, mostly historical. In many ways, I am self-educated, as I was politely asked to leave high school halfway through grade ten. I had to fight, literally sometimes with my fists, for every bit of education that I got.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I don't think anything I'm doing is particularly effective. However, without social media I would be selling zero books. With it, I sell some books. Not many, but some. This is the real revolution in modern publishing. I don't have the overhead of the big publishers, and every sale means something special. To sell a book is a small victory for the little guy. That's what's really important. I get to pursue my dream, a dream shared by many. There are times when I wish I could quit. I really do. The odds are I never will because this is who I am--some guy who has spent thirty years getting to this point.
Published 2013-08-25.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Love, Money, Sex and Death in the 21st Century
By
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 24,270. Language: English. Published: January 18, 2014. Category: Nonfiction » Science and Nature » Evolution
Love, Money, Sex and Death. A mind-blowing series of essays concerning ten ethical and moral dilemmas facing modern science as well as the rest of humanity. The 21st Century is sure going to be interesting. A non-fiction hypertext, illustrated.
35 Again
By
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 2,110. Language: English. Published: January 3, 2014. Category: Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories
Doctor Horace Brooks has never met a patient he doesn’t like. He’s careful to go over all the issues with husband and wife before proceeding with gene-therapy and the modern fountain of youth. The only question is whether anyone is listening. Trendy country club members Ed and Michelle Newell being a good case in point.
The Fae
By
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 2,390. Language: English. Published: January 3, 2014. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories
Blanchard has been tramping all up and down this valley with a rucksack and a camera on his back for as long as he can remember. And yet there is something, someone else out there. After exactly two short glimpses and a few indistinct tracks in the mud, he’s determined to get the shot of a lifetime. A short fantasy story.
Blessed Are the Humble
By
Series: The Maintenon Mysteries. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 67,520. Language: English. Published: November 19, 2013. Category: Fiction » Mystery & detective » General
It was a crime of pure arrogance. Madame Muriel Ducharme was murdered in what looks like a break-in gone wrong. It’s a little too pat for Inspector Gilles Maintenon. Nothing appears to have been taken, but the killer has thought of that too.
Planeta Fantasma
By
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 38,170. Language: Spanish. Published: November 15, 2013. Category: Fiction » Literature » Literary
Una colección de historias satíricas de la mente perversa de Louis Shalako.
Dark Satires
By
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 41,900. Language: English. Published: October 18, 2013. Category: Fiction » Literary collections » Canadian
Dark Satires is a collection of short fiction with the focus on fun. Stories like The Kidney, The Death of Frederigo Velasquez, The Hive, and News From the Future will set you back in your chair, raise your eyebrows, elevate your heart-rate and quicken your pulse. Not for the faint of heart or the overly-sensitive.
Third World
By
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 63,550. Language: English. Published: October 14, 2013. Category: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure
Hank Beveridge and Lieutenant Newton Shapiro are a couple of nice guys whose worlds just happen to collide. Hank's getting up in years and Newton has his first independent field command. On Third World, women of marrying age are scarce as hen's teeth. Hank's still looking though. Newton has a job to do, no matter who gets hurt. The Empire is a long ways away, but the locals are at least peaceable.
Lottery of Death
By
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 4,160. Language: English. Published: September 28, 2013. Category: Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories
War is hell, according to William Tecumseh Sherman. That was then. Now, war is a game played by established rules, by mutual agreement, by gentlemen, and only when all other means of problem resolution have failed. Suffering, real human misery, can be reduced or even eliminated when war is kept within boundaries. War is a much more attractive prospect in this satirical look at war in the future.
Ghost Planet
By
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 38,820. Language: English. Published: September 21, 2013. Category: Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories
A collection of short stories from the evil mind of Louis Shalako.
Engines of Creation
By
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 39,370. Language: English. Published: September 14, 2013. Category: Fiction » Literary collections » Canadian
Short stories that pack a punch, including science fiction, fantasy, satire, humour, and a strangely uplifting mild horror. A collection.
Repelatron Raceway
By
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 14,620. Language: English. Published: September 13, 2013. Category: Fiction » Science fiction » Hard sci-fi
Brett Harden, 21 years old and Formula E World Champion, is third in the Repelatron Racing series. He also sits third on the grid at the Las Vegas Grand Prix for anti-gravity, 'repelatron' cars. The series is heating up and drawing world-wide attention from race fans everywhere. Always in the back of his mind is the love of his life, Melanie. The time for some sort of decision is looming.
Nanobots in the Lawn
By
Price: Free! Words: 2,470. Language: English. Published: September 11, 2013. Category: Fiction » Science fiction » Hard sci-fi
It's just another working day for Fred Thorsen when he arrives at the Wheatley's for a little lawn maintenance. Unfortunately, the bug and weed-killing nano-bots in the slurry he's applying have other ideas. As long as you don't snort it, it's perfectly safe...right? A short story.
The Healer
By
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 4,930. Language: English. Published: September 9, 2013. Category: Fiction » Science fiction » Space opera
Kyle Mootrey is a cute guy and everything, but Rebecca is beginning to wonder what he’s up to. The Earth colonists from Ark Two are settling in to what turns out to be a rather barren planet. Kyle is hoping Rebecca can keep a secret. Kyle has an alien friend who is hurt, and only Rebecca can help. A short story.
Nano-robots dans la Pelouse
By
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 2,670. Language: French. Published: September 1, 2013. Category: Fiction » Horror » Weird fiction
Technicien de maintenance de triage Fred Thorsen n'a pas été vu telle une mauvaise journée jusqu'à ce qu'il arrivé à la maison grandiose de la Wheatley. Ensuite, les choses commencent à aller un peu de mal. Telle est la vie. Une histoire d’horreur courte.
The Assassins
By
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 7,290. Language: English. Published: February 15, 2013. Category: Fiction » Historical » Classical Greece & Rome
Emperor Domitian hates Christians. He isn't too fond of philosophers either. The Assassins will cut anyone's throat for a few pieces of gold, so that's no problem. The popular Heron of Alexandria is brash and outspoken. In addition to teaching school and building an aeolipile, history's first reaction motor, he has some other surprising skills.
The Art of Murder
By
Series: The Maintenon Mysteries. Price: Free! Words: 63,350. Language: English. Published: October 31, 2012. Category: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Traditional British
Inventor Theo Duval appeared to be having the perfect life. A locked room with the only key in the decedent’s pocket, a book on hypnotism, and one very rich and very dead inventor, present Inspector Gilles Maintenon of the Surete with a problem. Why would a young, healthy, successful man, one with a beautiful fiance, and a thriving company ever want to kill himself?
Horse Catcher
By
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 79,510. Language: English. Published: October 1, 2012. Category: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure
Twelve thousand years later, low on reaction mass, with 20,000 colonists aboard, Ark One is coming in hot. Captain Sandra Jensen and Astrogator Dooley Peeters have a plan to save her. There is the question of how they will be received, on an Earth that has returned to barbarism. That is, if they can slow her down enough to get a shuttle away.
The Game
By
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 5,860. Language: English. Published: September 26, 2012. Category: Fiction » Science fiction » Hard sci-fi
How much of who we are is tied up in what we know? If something wiped our 'knowledge,' or higher education, but left our basic faculties, the ability to speak and to act, would we all be created equal again? In The Game, everything must be learned the hard way. The learning curve is painful. The price of a mistake is a laser bolt through the head. A short story.
The Apparition of the Virgin
By
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 3,100. Language: English. Published: September 10, 2012. Category: Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories
At the helm on the Great Lakes, Georges is convinced the Virgin has appeared, and with a young family to support, the message has great meaning. When he's a little too insistent, people think he's mad. But all is not real in this masterful parody of an international science-fiction undersea crime thriller. A short story.
The Clone
By
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 2,910. Language: English. Published: August 12, 2012. Category: Fiction » Horror » General
All it took was a human hair and the smell of the past. Cloning the first big love of your life thirty years later might not be such a good idea, even when you have the means to do it. A short story.
Snake Girl
By
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 2,210. Language: English. Published: July 28, 2012. Category: Fiction » Horror » Occult
On a solo canoe trip in Algonquin Park, Mason Richards has plenty of time to think. That's not always a good thing. It's never too late to make some positive changes in your life. It might be long overdue. A short story.
The Jesus Christ Show
By
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 2,540. Language: English. Published: July 21, 2012. Category: Fiction » Humor & comedy » Satire
Jesus Christ has his own late-night talk show, where the emphasis is on fun and truthiness. Tonight's guests include The Magnificent Louis, author of 'De-Bunking the Sasquatch Myth,' as well as Chinese acrobats and a girl who can climb into a pickle jar. A short story.
Time-Storm
By
Price: Free! Words: 75,840. Language: English. Published: June 2, 2012. Category: Fiction » Science fiction » Hard sci-fi
Althea is the source of piezo-temporal crystals, which distort time and make interstellar space-flight possible. The planet is uninhabited, and the Company has a monopoly. Everyone has a secret, and with such a small wintering party, life can be pretty boring until everything goes terribly wrong. On Althea, staying alive is half the battle.
On the Nature of the Gods
By
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 66,840. Language: English. Published: March 30, 2012. Category: Fiction » Science fiction » Steampunk & retropunk
If there’s one thing the evil Dr. Emile Schmitt-Rottluff can’t get enough of, it’s samples of your precious bodily fluids. He’s the gaslight era's virtuoso of illicit cloning and mind-bending manipulation of the human genome. He’s got his eye on Jeb Snead, one of the toughest men who ever lived, and his sexy mutant girlfriend, Miss Kitty.
Selected Poems
By
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 4,610. Language: English. Published: February 4, 2012. Category: Fiction » Poetry » Canadian Poetry
Poetry inspired by fantasy, nature, mythology, love and heartbreak. If poetry is the language of the soul, it's also the non-literal use of words to convey emotional meaning. It is about feelings rather than clearly-fixed ideas. There's beauty here as well as darkness.
Redemption: an Inspector Gilles Maintenon mystery
By
Series: The Maintenon Mysteries. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 65,030. Language: English. Published: November 29, 2011. Category: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Traditional British
Recently widowed and inspired by a boyhood fascination with Sherlock Holmes, the middle-aged Inspector Gilles Maintenon of the Surete is on a walking vacation of Dartmoor when he stumbles upon death in mysterious circumstances. When the woman he is falling in love with is brutally murdered, Gilles swears that he will never rest until the case is solved, the killer is caught, and justice is done.
The Shape-Shifters
By
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 76,040. Language: English. Published: August 17, 2011. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal
Widowed Janet Herbert has two children to raise. Out of work and with unemployment benefits running low, she needs a knight in shining armour to sweep her off her feet and carry her away on a big white stallion. The stranger in town is very handsome—and very French. But the more she learns, the more uncertain she is. Jean Gagnon has just done seven years for a crime he says he didn't commit.
Thirty Years Gone
By
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 15,000. Language: English. Published: July 29, 2011. Category: Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories
What would your town look like if the lights went out and never came back on again? Trevor Ratigan has lived long enough to find out. Seventy year-old Trevor is the closest thing to a general on hand when an invasion fleet arrives to seize the strategic Bluewater Bridge. In a world where cattle and corn equates with money and power, the rivalry between Detroit and Chicago is heating up.
The Stud Farm
By
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 8,030. Language: English. Published: June 1, 2011. Category: Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories
'The Stud Farm' is a short science fiction story in the tradition of George Orwell's 'Animal Farm.' In a world dominated by an alien technology, ignorance is policy. As for fourteen year-old Farley, he's a strong runner.
The Handbag's Tale
By
Series: The Maintenon Mysteries. Price: Free! Words: 11,440. Language: English. Published: February 20, 2011. Category: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Historical
The Handbag's Tale is a highly-stylized murder mystery. Readers will enjoy a rich vein of dark and sardonic humour. Nana the Snake Dancer, poets, painters, proprietors of bawdy houses, inept burglars, and Inspector Gilles Maintenon make an unforgettable tale of a classic time and place: It's Paris, 1924, at the height of party season.
The Paranoid Cat and other tales
By
Price: Free! Words: 57,730. Language: English. Published: October 31, 2010. Category: Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories
This collection of science fiction, horror and fantasy is the first from Canada's Louis Shalako. His edgy, sardonic humour pushes the boundaries of common sense and good taste without getting too far out of hand. A nice mix of the fun and the serious, the dark and the uplifting.
The Case of the Curious Killers
By
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 102,680. Language: English. Published: October 21, 2010. Category: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure
Brendan Hartle is taking names and kicking some nasty alien butt. The Case of the Curious Killers is a comic space-opera of epic proportions. Aliens abduct security guard Brendan Hartle but they soon discover he has no objective reality of his own. This has some unfortunate consequences for the Empire, and those who would usurp it.
Core Values
By
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 97,560. Language: English. Published: September 25, 2010. Category: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure
Inspired by real life and ripped from the daily headlines, ‘Core Values’ is a parody of a 1950’s drive-in movie sci-fi thriller. Charles Henry Brubaker is the other guy. Everything bad happens to poor old Chuck. When everything is going well, that is not the true test. It's when everything and everyone is against you. It's what you do then. That is the measure of a man.
Heaven Is Too Far Away
By
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 178,560. Language: English. Published: September 25, 2010. Category: Fiction » Literature » War
Funnier than Kelly’s Heroes, darker in places than Catch-22, and more irreverent than M*A*S*H, this satirical WW I Royal Flying Corps memoir will leave the reader in stitches and historians shaking their heads.