Interview with Maksim Malik

When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
When I'm not writing, I spend my time playing video games, reading, or 3D modeling. Sometimes I simply sit and enjoy music without doing anything in particular.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Most of the ebooks I discover are through Goodreads or Amazon, and sometimes word of mouth but not often.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I remember the time I attempted to write a book. I was in sixth grade and wrote about a half-man, half-tiger character named Garbanis. I forget the actual story of the book, but I know I typed it in all caps.
What is your writing process?
I start with world-building. I cannot write a story without knowing the state of the universe/world. This could include history, making up languages, and coming up with cultures that might end up being barely mentioned in the actual book. Next I come up with a basic plot; I figure out something very bare bones for the main plot. This is also when I start making character sheets and fleshing out my characters. Then I add ideas in Scapple, which is software for taking notes and connecting them with lines and putting nice bubbles around them. After that I organize the ideas into chapters and sections, and expand on any important details I'd like to include.

After all that I start organizing plot information into Scrivener and fleshing out sections of the story even further. Once I have everything from beginning to end I start writing. The reason I like Scrivener is because when I'm writing it's easy to add extra sections or move chapters around if I need to plus my research is all in one place.

When the rough draft is finished it's time to step away from the book for a week or so to get some distance from it. This helps me spot errors more easily when I get back to it and start editing. And editing. And edit some more.

When I'm finally satisfied with the edited version I export the finished product to Microsoft Word, set up styles (which is a little bit of a pain), and review and revise again if necessary one last time.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
The first fantasy story I read was Mercedes Lackey's "By the Sword," featuring an exciting story about a girl and a magic sword. I was hooked, especially hooked on the world Lackey created. Thankfully she wrote other stories in the same world and I could read more about it. It's from there that I read classic Tolkien and eventually dipped my toes into science fiction to find I enjoyed the genre as well.
How do you approach cover design?
I hire an artist to design a cover for me. I could try to make my own but it would be far less interesting than what a talented artist could make.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
The Deed of Paksenarrion by Elizabeth Moon—A very immersive tale with a vivid world. I still re-read this on occasion.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams—Amusing, witty, and smart. Brilliant. Never forget your towel.
Dawn by Octavia E. Butler—Compelling story about aliens. Real aliens, not humans painted different colors. I consumed this book.
By the Sword by Mercedes Lackey—My first foray into fantasy, so it holds a special place in my heart.
Neverness by David Zindell—This book is a very interesting "big idea" book. I definitely recommend it.
Kiln People by David Brin—An exciting and thought-provoking detective story involving autonomous clay copies of humans.
Tangled Axion by Jacqueline Koyanagi—A great read! Includes well done polyamory, queer women of color, and chronic illness, things usually not present in science fiction or fantasy.

Oh, was that more than five? I can keep going, but I'll stop.
What do you read for pleasure?
I read science fiction or fantasy for fun.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I use a Kindle Paperwhite.
Describe your desk
My desk has a couple monitors, a cat, my drawing pad, keyboard, mouse, joystick, and gamepad. I have pill bottles lined up on one side to remind myself to take my pills. There's nothing terribly special about it though.
Who are your favorite authors?
In no particular order:

Rachel Aaron, Carl Sagan, Douglas Adams, Elizabeth Moon, Mercedes Lackey, Jacqueline Koyanagi, Robin Hobb, Robert A. Heinlein, Robert Jordan, JK Rowling, George RR Martin, Anne Rice, Dan McGirt, China Miéville, GS Jennsen, Jennifer Foehner Wells, Ann Aguire, Jacqueline Carey, Octavia E. Butler, Sarah Douglass, Kathryn Kristine Rusch, Mike Shepherd, James SA Corey, Neal Stephenson, David Brin, and probably more that I am not remembering at the moment.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Texas and North Carolina. I'm not sure how this influenced my writing, for my stories were never based in reality. My poetry used local environments as inspiration occasionally. In North Carolina I grew up on an island, but I've never written any stories about anyone living on an island.
When did you first start writing?
I started writing at a young age—like super young. My first "book" was a laminated story about some thing called the "feet foots" which honestly makes no sense to me now. The book is six pages long, and I still have it somewhere. I think it was made before first grade.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Nadani, a freelance spacer, is used to taking odd jobs here and there, but this latest job is a little unusual for her. She has to transport slaves to their buyer. Little does she know this contract involves her in a galactic affair dealing with lost data. With several sides pursuing the data, Nadani and her AI are put to the test.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I've written novels and short stories for many years yet all they have done is collect dust. I finally decided to at least attempt to share them via Smashwords. I don't expect to be a number one author, but maybe someone will enjoy reading one of my stories.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
My greatest joy comes from a few different things. Whenever I finish a stage of writing I feel the joy of progress. When I write a particularly good scene I feel joy from that as well. I'm extremely nervous about sharing my work, but I believe if someone were to like it then that would bring me great joy as well.
What do your fans mean to you?
Fans would be a good confidence boost for me, and I know the better I feel about myself the better my writing sessions go. I would feel particularly honored to have fans investing their time for me.
What are you working on next?
Either I will work on writing a sequel to "Spin!" or finish editing a fantasy novel I have written already.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Getting out of bed each day is tough for me. I have a neurological disability, and it's force of habit to crawl out of bed plus the call of nature which cannot be ignored. I usually stay in bed for a little while before getting up and try to plan out my day, or at least the things I'd like to accomplish. Not all days are productive for me due to my disability, but I try to make the best of the time when I feel decent enough.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
As a brand new author I haven't had enough experience to answer this question. I will be setting up an author website soon, and I have various social media links to connect with people.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
I've yet to know whether or not I'm a success, but Smashwords has enabled me to publish my work without much hassle or ridiculous fees, for which I am entirely thankful.
Published 2018-02-28.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.