Interview with M.C. Oliva

When did you first start writing?
I started writing in grade school. I didn't know why I did it, I sure as heck never thought myself as an aspiring writer, but I would think of interesting stories and write them out. Sometimes they would be inspired by something new I'd experienced, after all, so many experiences that adults consider mundane are magnificent to children, and any new experience could excite my imagination. Otherwise, they came from necessity. One children's story I wrote, The Adventures of Tom Turkey, stemmed from a Thanksgiving class assignment in the fourth grade. Where most kids wrote a page or two about a thanksgiving, I wrote a 25 page story of a turkey who fought to rescue his feathered-friends from ending up on the Thanksgiving menu in the White House. When questioned as to why I came up with such an elaborate story, I said I wrote it because I didn't like most of the stuff they forced us to read in school, and I wanted to write something that kids my age would enjoy!
What's the story behind your latest book?
Nature of the Beast is based on several burning ideas that came from my experiences, especially within the military. I chose to write a science fiction novel because it was the most effective medium to create a thrilling story with the material I wanted to incorporate.
The Universe that Steele, Brasidus, and Marcus live in is my own mental extrapolation of what the future will be like based on our current political, environmental, technological, and social trends.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
After completing my first novel, I found it beyond difficult to get agents to read my manuscript because I didn't have any track record of published works.
I don't blame them. Albeit having a great story that I still want to circle back and retell later down the line, my first attempt at a novel was admittedly horrendous (though I've been told by those who read it that I truly am my harshest critic). My friends and family who read the novel were able to look past my novice grammatical errors and pushed me to continue searching for a publisher.
Eventually, I ran into Smashwords.com and decided it would be best to build some merit using self-publishing. Fortunately, with the ease of publishing my work on Smashwords, I decided it best to enhance my craft before taking that leap forward. I'm happy to say that I've learned much more about writing and publishing, many thanks to Smashwords, and that I'm happier being an indie author than using the draconian publishing system.
What are you working on next?
I'm preparing to write my next novel, a dark fantasy epic titled Blood and Conquest. I'm especially excited for this story because it's something I've wanted to write for a very long time.
Who are your favorite authors?
Dennis Lehane and Chuck Palahniuk are the first two to come to mind. I also enjoy Dan Brown's earlier works, and James Clavell.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I get a great deal of pleasure from personal accomplishments, so I'm always striving to achieve a new goal or objective. My inspiration comes from accomplishing an agenda that I create for myself at the end of each day. My goals can be related to any aspect of my life, i.e., work, hobbies, health/physique, or relationships.
When I start a new day, my biological engines are primed to rip through whatever new challenge I've set for them.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
When I'm not working or writing, I spend my time reading, riding my motorcycle, working out, or playing games online with friends.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Great question!
1) Shogun by James Clavell. It's such a great and thorough historical fiction piece. Clavell created a fantastic protaganist, Blackthorne, with well-developed mental processes for dealing with extraordinary situations. I learned so much from that book, and I still find myself mimicking Balckthorne's methods for dealing with stress in my own life!
2) A Drink Before the War by Dennis Lehane. I picked up this gem for free from a random MWR in Iraq. I knew nothing of the author or story, I just wanted something to read. I had a rough start after realizing it was a first person detective novel. I thought it would be something cliche, reminiscent of Dick Tracey. Fortunately, I didn't have anything else to read, so I stuck to it. Needless to say, I fell in love with the characters, and with Lehane's writing. I've read every one of his books and he remains my favorite author!
3) The Green Mile by Stephen King. This is another book I read in Iraq at the behest of a friend. This profound story filled me with so much thought and emotion in a time and place in my life where so much was in question. I'm so grateful to have read it, especially at such a pivotal time in my life.
4) I Am Legend by Richard Matheson. This horrifying little story is so well written, and it holds a resounding message! I love Matheson's twist, and his ability to turn our perceptions on their heads. Our society can learn a thing or two from this story.
5) Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein. This should be a mandatory read for all military and civil servants. Unfortunately, that's unlikely to happen due to the essence Heinlen's fictional society, and the controversy that surrounded this book after it was published. I admire Heinlein's bravery in writing this story. In hindsight, perhaps his example subconsciously encouraged my own writing of Nature of the Beast.
What do you read for pleasure?
I read both fiction and non-fiction, usually one of each simultaneously. For fiction, I prefer historical fiction or a good thriller, and I enjoy reading these mostly at night or when I am relaxing. For non-fiction, I stick with psychology or business, and I read these during the day when I have a moment or I'm waiting in line. The latter categories usually help stimulate my brain and motivate me throughout the day.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
My Windows Surface tablet. While I'm on the go during the day I usually have to resort to my phone, but I much prefer the larger screen of my tablet.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The greatest joy of writing comes from the enjoyment of my readers. There's nothing more satisfying than knowing I'm filling people with wonder, and that I'm giving them something to ponder about.
Perhaps just as important is the act of writing, which I find wonderfully cathartic. There's no greater therapy for a plagued mind than to extract a burning thought by translating it into written words, and then manipulating it within a story.
Published 2014-09-14.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Nature of the Beast
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 107,970. Language: English. Published: July 6, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Military
In a Universe split between two opposing super-powers, the struggle for power looms on the brink of war. A neutral island nation has been charged by the United Nations to uphold the balance of peace and justice, but when corruption takes hold of even the hearts of those fighting for liberty, the delicate balance is disturbed and sides must be chosen.