Interview with S. Michael Choi

When did you first start writing?
I began writing as a child when I produced little "newsletters" for my family. It's been a lifelong habit, I guess you'd say, and then I wrote for my high school and then my university's literary magazine(s). Writing is a calling rather than a hobby, and in the end, it's you and the mirror staring back, saying, "write." Of course, the question of what to write may evolve in your lifetime, but that's probably a question that's coming up in this interview.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest book "Avola's Peril" is sort of a counter-reaction to my sci-fi work, CITY OF GHOSTS. After you write one work, you end up with some accumulated feelings and storylines that 'bounce back' upon the immediate previous work. Since I wrote a zombie novel, the balance of feeling swung like a pendulum, and the sensation came, "write a fantasy work now." So that's AVOLA'S PERIL which is my first fantasy work, set on the wind world Hastur, featuring gnomes and elves and guilds rather than the sci-fi conventions of robots or zombie plagues.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I got a book as far as a reader at a major publisher, but after the financial crisis a few years back, I realised I got a lot more out of dealing with readers one-by-one, and seeing immediate responses and blogposts on my work rather than the guided process of one novel every two years plus the standard publishing world contract. I'm still keen to see one if that so develops, but in the meantime, I'm happy to be where I am on Smashwords, and only hope you'll share a link if you enjoyed your copy.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords has been there from the very start and the hard work of the SW team has ensured free marketing, distribution to a quality audience, and the technology solution to get your copies on all the major sites without the pain of looking up all the specifications by yourself. I'm grateful to Smashwords for my exposure to Barnes and Noble, which would otherwise never have existed, and the copies moved on that channel show that SW is on the cutting edge of digital distribution.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The joy is knowing that somebody has been relieved, possibly from pain, definitely from boredom, and that somebody somewhere might be going through a difficult time or just a long, unexpected bus ride with the help of a digital file. It's about the service you're performing for humanity which pushes the pen, and I think a lot of writers agree with this sentiment, even the ones who don't even necessarily proclaim it. Applause, of course, is always nice.
What do your fans mean to you?
My fan base, which took off this year (2015), is the reason I write. All of my Smashwords uploads are at zero dollars and zero cents. It's for you guys, shucks, and I appreciate all your kind words in return. Even my lesser works seem to have some kind of audience, while the major hits do a continual movement. Wherever you are, whatever you're struggling with, I hope I've entertained for an hour or two, hopefully more.
What are you working on next?
I'm immediately working on a crime novel, but I'm not sure what happens after that one, except for the vague feeling that based on readership interest, I'll be specialising more tightly on Science Fiction. Almost half of my readership is Sci Fi, so I should probably focus on what has drawn the greatest response and work heavily in the SF genre. Meanwhile, MARIE-THERESE, the crime novel, is two thirds done, and it should be available on Smashwords soon.
Who are your favorite authors?
I like Michael Crichton, Haruki Murakami, Ryu Murakami, some of Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, Simon Winchester, Max Hastings, Rick Atkinson, Robert D. Kaplan, William Vollmann. I've read the entire Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, and much of Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke. Hitchhiker's Guide author Douglas Adams is classic as is at least a solid amount of Vonnegut, whereas in terms of historical classics there will never be another Shakespeare or Hemingway. Lastly, a tip of the hat to W. Somerset Maugham, Ian McEwan, Kazuo Ishiguro, and countless others.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
The sun rising...
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I've continued to be abroad, working on my languages and trying to keep up the personal fitness. I enjoy some of mass media including old reruns and free videos online, as well as Hollywood's latest.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I recommend Goodreads.com which has a great community, and reddit lately has been the source of a text or two. Word of mouth is probably the best guide which is where the community rather than the algorithm on GR is helpful, but both have provided some hits. Finally, some major retailers have suggestion algorithms on their websites as well, and it never hurts to glance through those, even if just for an idea or two.
Published 2015-03-11.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Avola's Peril
Price: Free! Words: 23,580. Language: English. Published: February 4, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic, Fiction » Horror » Weird fiction
On the Windworld, Hastur, the nobility soon ascends to the cloud isles. But will the guildmaster Valentine of the steelforgers or the guildmistress of the doll-crafters more successfully alter the legend of Avola to their own ends? Scribe IV records his squireship of the princess of blades, and the dimming of the city of Caracosa as the age of Man falls.
City of Ghosts
Price: Free! Words: 23,740. Language: English. Published: December 19, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic, Fiction » Horror » Undead
In the aftermath of genetic plague, human beings are transformed into white-eyed 'Happy' zombies, and the remnants of uninfected society live in heavily fortified compounds. One such group leader, 838, records in his diary the travails of day-to-day life over a winter where the water freezes and the infected New Humans stage periodic raids. But is the greater threat other survivors, their clans?
822
Price: Free! Words: 20,450. Language: English. Published: September 20, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Literature » Literary, Fiction » Science fiction » Hard sci-fi
Slipstream examination of 4.5 years in Shanghai, featuring Nick Forteaux, Sany Music scout and the art rock scene, or is it all about the delightful song-and-dance girls 877, 855, and 822? Girlfriend-boyfriend relationships in Shangers, China, with some light near-future sci-fi with regard to the expat experience, hot Chinese girls, the revolution, and being lost and abroad.
Fenworld
Price: Free! Words: 33,650. Language: English. Published: September 8, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic
In the year 2071, a 74-year-old man begins writing his memoirs... the world has survived extensive glaciation, but how will the global power New Atlantis survive the GEIST onslaught? Which white walker mechs will battle what Geist abomination, and what is the true story of the culture hero Genevieve? Science fiction with a Happy Science twist, and revelation of the end days.
Harajuku (+)
Price: Free! Words: 54,830. Language: English. Published: April 17, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Coming of age, Fiction » Literature » Literary
(3.00)
Ritchie Ufuo, recent graduate of a Pennsylvania university, moves to Tokyo where he runs into the champagne-and-cocaine Soren Soutern. The louche, high-spending, high-octane group of Japan expats introduce a new world to him, but at what cost and to what outcome? Japan around the turn of the century, with ecstasy and cocaine flowing, and the future apparently limitless...
Sweets for the Sweet
Price: Free! Words: 4,010. Language: English. Published: December 17, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Literature » Plays & Screenplays, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Action & suspense
The young blue-body-painted girls of the Portland Poets' Collective merely want to rain-dance in peace--but the CDC has other plans. Science and mysticism collide in "Sweets for the Sweet," where reiki practioners study the darker side of their craft, and big data comes CRUNCHing in with plenty of capital and firepower.
Tänzer, Null
Price: Free! Words: 3,420. Language: German. Published: November 29, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Literature » Literary, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Literary
Merry Christmas, Deutschland! Eine kostenlose kurze Geschichte über das Leben der nördlichen New Jersey Gymnasiasten. Ihr Leben für immer verändert, wenn ein Austauschstudent aus Russland kommt. Hochschulzugangs, Wachstumsschmerzen, Kulturschock
dancer, zero
Price: Free! Words: 3,530. Language: American English. Published: November 29, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Coming of age, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Literary
(3.00)
Tatiana, the new girl, arrived in English IIIA amidst a murmur of expectation. We had already heard a beautiful "Russian princess" was coming to our own boring little neck of New Jersey, and her first impression on us was no disappointment... the SAT-cramming students of a high academic north New Jersey high school welcome a Russian exchange student; and lives are forever changed...
The Flowers of Keiwha
Price: Free! Words: 54,310. Language: English. Published: December 8, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Literature » Literary
200 K-pop obsessed Japanese girls at a language learning programme in Seoul; transliteration of who said what to who when and where in three languages. a handful of foreign guys? an ex-German with a chip on his shoulder? talking green elephant? minor riff on Yale & Seattle.