Interview with Steven M. Moore

Who are your favorite authors?
I write sci-fi thrillers, so it's natural that I read and review sci-fi and books involving mystery, suspense, and action. Some of my books have a dystopian flavor. I discovered dystopian sci-fi a long time ago and admired the old-timers like Wells and Huxley to classic writers like Bradbury, Christopher, Kornbluth, etc. As a writer, I felt there was a niche to be filled that combines sci-fi with thriller--more so than what's called techno-thrillers because my books generally have more science and technology. But I read in many genres, including non-fiction.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
The pleasure of being alive. And now, as a full-time writer, enjoying another day pounding the keys in my constant quest to entertain readers. Oh, and don't forget those mugs of cafe colombiano--an addiction that my muses OK because it helps the words flow from the keyboard.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Reading, reviewing, and writing blog posts takes up a major portion. I have a free-wheelin' blog with op-ed comments on current events, book reviews, author interviews, and unconventional looks at the writing business. Other than those activities, my pass-times are fairly conventional--movies, concerts, some travel, restaurants.... My beautiful wife has no problem finding things for us to do, but my muses are the women with the tasers.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
On Smashwords, Amazon, and several ebook listings. I don't buy any book that's more than $10 anymore, but there are many good bargain ebooks available. And I review many books, tending toward self-published with ebooks preferred--books I receive in exchange for an honest review. (You can see many of my reviews on Bookpleasures.com, but I also review beyond what you will find on that reviewing site.)
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Many years ago, in pre-kinder days, I wanted to make my own comic books. That's how I learned to read and I probably created some comic books of my own back then. My first novel, written during the summer I turned thirteen, was consigned to the circular file when I left for college. The plot wasn't bad (something like the movie City of Angels) but its demise was justified. I had been writing story ideas down before that and continued to do so--mostly long lists of what-ifs--but only began to get serious about reaching out to readers when I could dedicate more time to my writing. It's not hard work to write a sci-fi thriller, but all the other stuff that comes with it in order to reach out to readers--editing, cover art, PR and marketing, interviews(!), and so forth--that's hard work! My reward is being able to entertain people with my stories.
What is your writing process?
I start with one of my what-ifs and begin writing. Sometimes that produces a short story or novella, but most of the time I need to produce a full length novel to get the story told. As I go, I do my own content editing (or, what's a word processor for?). After I finish that, I spend time copy editing (more time on that compared to the actual writing). Then I send my MS off to my formatter and cover artist (two different people--the latter so she knows what the story is about). My formatter and I both do proof reading. We're quite a team. I could never achieve this efficiency and such a quality product via the traditional route--I'd probably still be hawking my first book to agents! The digital publishing revolution allows an author complete control over his product.
How do you approach cover design?
Covers and titles are very important to me. I'm responsible for the latter. To show the pitfalls, my first release, Full Medical, describes a possible dystopian future, where we might end up without adequate medical care programs (at least, that's the background), i.e. Full Medical means "full medical coverage." I thought that was a good title. But then I discovered one reader thought it was a diatribe against Obamacare (it can be considered just the opposite); a review site categorized it as non-fiction and a medical book!
Covers are a bit less prone to pitfalls, but a simple cover with just the title and author looks like an advanced degree thesis. Fiction writers need to spend time on their covers. Due to my ineptitude in the graphic arts, I soon realized I needed a cover artist. We are now planning on going back and redoing some of the covers.
What writers must remember above all is that cover of their book becomes a thumbnail image on Smashwords or Amazon or any other listing--also your website--so it has to "look good" and "be interesting."
What are your five favorite books, and why?
I'll answer this differently. Schmaltzy books from the 19th century usually are in my "bad books list," if I read enough of the book to reach boredom or get sick. Take Dickens. Beyond "A Christmas Carol" and Tale of Two Cities, he's boring, although he was one of the first people who made it big by serializing his work. Silas Marner, Moby Dick (who needs a manual for reducing whale blubber to lamp oil?), anything from Jane Austen, Giants in the Earth...you get the idea. I loathe most of what they make you read in high school, at least when I was in high school. Even early sci-fi--Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues is considered a classic, but who needs all that description of undersea flora and fauna. (There were writing lessons learned here, though, because I learned what NOT to do as a writer!)
What is your e-reading device of choice?
My old paper-white Kindle. It's great for all my reviewing and reading activities. In my blog, I raked WD (Writer's Digest) over the coals for not having an e-zine edition. They finally have one, but it's too expensive. (In this case, I'd like to have both--a p-version and an e-version.) The Kindle also has solved a critical problem for me--I was running out of bookshelf space!
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I really can't say any of them have. Well, maybe just writing more books. (Because of KDP Select's promos, not all my ebooks are available on Smashwords. As I pass the promos stage, I'll remedy that with time. (If only Smashwords could deal with Amazon.... I have double the formatting cost if I do both.) I suspect that the best thing an author on a minimum budget like me can do is (1) try to get reviews and (2) write that next book. My perception is that the more reviews I have and the more books I have, the more name recognition I have. Oh yes, and I forgot--my website seems to be an effective marketing tool. Authors need one of those too. The PR and marketing services you can purchase are generally too expensive and no one has convinced me that they work (there are many necessary conditions for selling a book, but there are no sufficient ones--there are no silver bullets for having a successful book).
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in California. Even back then, the state was very diverse--I could pronounce the main street through my campus town, Embarcadero del Norte, like a Latino, knew that Los Banos was spelled wrong, and La Tijera Boulevard was comical (in Spanish, as in English, scissors is plural). I spent 13 years in South America and traveled in Europe for scientific conferences and to do research. The result is that I have a healthy respect for other cultures, my books generally do quite a bit of country hopping, and the diverse background of our U.S. citizenry shines through in my writing, which helps a lot in creating interesting characters, many of mixed ethnicity. Some might think I did things backward, but I had many life experiences before I released that first novel.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest novel, No Amber Waves of Grain, owes something to John Christopher's No Blade of Grass, a dystopian sci-fi novel I read somewhere around the sixth or seventh grade. When I finished that book, I said to myself, "What if the really interesting tale is how the worldwide plague of cereal grasses came to be?" I added it to my already growing list of what-ifs. Answering that question in the new novel (it will be released real soon) completes "The Clone and Mutants Series," making it a trilogy. The first two ebooks in the trilogy, Full Medical and Evil Agenda, are available at Smashwords. As soon as I get through an initial KDP Select promo, I'll try to make the third and new book also available here. I'll also be releasing an anthology of speculative fiction short stories.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
I have to confess that my ebooks listed here haven't done very well, but Mark's advice on PR and marketing, along with Penny Sansevieri's, has been very helpful. Maybe this interview will help Smashwords (Nook, Sony, Kobo, etc) readers get to know me better. My goal is to entertain readers--that's about as simple as I can state my business model! I invested in Smashwords hoping to reach more readers.
What do your fans mean to you?
If by fans you mean readers, they mean everything to me. What's a writer without readers? BTW, I do have a fan page on Facebook. Between my blog and that fan page, any reader can keep up with my activities. (The blog is RSSd to Goodreads and Amazon too. Say, why doesn't Smashwords offer that feature?)
What are you working on next?
I'm catching my breath right now (four books this year, 2013, and maybe an equal number last year--I can't remember). I do plan another Chen and Castilblanco sci-fi thriller (sequel to Teeter-Totter between Lust and Murder) and a sequel to Soldiers of God (not available in ebook format). Of course, my website continues as an almost daily activity.
Published 2013-09-09.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

No Amber Waves of Grain
By
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 61,200. Language: English. Published: January 26, 2014. Category: Fiction » Science fiction » High tech
Steve Moore’s new sci-fi thriller carries the reader beyond government conspiracies and political intrigue to world-wide suspense and action. His new addition to the “Clones and Mutants Series” features many players from Full Medical and Evil Agenda: Kalidas Metropolis and friend, two clones, and your favorite evildoer Vladimir Kalinin aka Rupert Snyder aka Sergio Battaglia.
The Golden Years of Virginia Morgan
By
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 65,250. Language: English. Published: February 9, 2013. Category: Fiction » Science fiction » General
What happens when paranoid U.S. government officials decide their elderly agents and top scientists are becoming security risks with the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s? The year is 2030. Meet DHS agent Ashley Scott and Pulitzer prize-winning reporter Eduardo Ortega. They battle a government conspiracy that goes far beyond an attack on the elderly who possess classified information.
Sing a Samba Galactica
By
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 77,760. Language: English. Published: October 21, 2012. Category: Fiction » Science fiction » Space opera
Steve Moore goes epic in this new sci-fi thriller that continues where his Survivors of the Chaos ends. Covering centuries of humanity’s future in the Galaxy, the events of this novel take readers on a star-hopping ride from the discovery of ETs on the 82 Eridani colony planet New Haven; to battles against the evil Tali on the Delta Pavonis colony planet Sanctuary and Earth.
Come Dance a Cumbia... With Stars in your Hand!
By
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 79,100. Language: English. Published: October 21, 2012. Category: Fiction » Science fiction » Space opera
The sci-fi thriller Come Dance a Cumbia…with Stars in your Hand! completes “The Chaos Chronicles Trilogy,” a vision of the future that is troubling, inspiring, and astounding. Action, suspense, and intrigue are found in this star-hopping modern sci-fi saga that combines elements of space opera with new perspectives on today’s problems.
Evil Agenda
By
Series: Clones and Mutants, Book 2. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 69,260. Language: English. Published: October 10, 2011. Category: Fiction » Science fiction » High tech
An interagency task force pursues an international money launderer. David Olsen feels uneasy about his assignment. The money launderer Rupert Snyder aka Vladimir Kalinin has an evil agenda—world domination. He wants to breed the perfect soldier. One of Rupert’s creations, Sirena, escapes his clutches and joins David and friends on a perilous mission to thwart the madman’s plans.
Full Medical
By
Series: Clones and Mutants, Book 1. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 93,210. Language: English. Published: August 29, 2011. Category: Fiction » Science fiction » General
It is 2053. Only the privileged few who can afford full coverage have access to all the medical advances of the last fifty years. Periodic terrorist attacks are the aftermath of instability and wars in the Middle East. The economy is dragging people into despair. This is a revised second edition of Steve Moore’s Full Medical, a sci-fi thriller about a human cloning conspiracy.
The Secret Lab
By
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 50,050. Language: English. Published: July 26, 2011. Category: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Sci-Fi & fantasy
What would you do if you could talk with an intelligent cat? Meet Mr. Paws, a mathematically inclined tabby cat who can help you with your calculus homework. He and his new friend, Shashi Garcia, are two main characters in this whimsical sci-fi thriller. Together, along with Shashi’s friends, they solve the mystery of The Secret Lab.