In addition to writing dark speculative fiction, Michael Rizzo is a graphic artist (yes, all those covers are his), a martial scientist, a collector and frequent user of fine weaponry, and a pretty good cook. He continues his long, varied and brutal career as a mercenary social services consultant, trying to do good important work while writing about very bad things.
His fiction series include Grayman and The God Mars. (The research he’s done for the Grayman series has probably earned him the attention of Homeland Security.)
Check out his Facebook pages ("The Grayman Series" and "The God Mars Series") for lots of original art and updates.
He causes trouble in person mostly in the Pacific Northwest.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in the suburbs of Phoenix, Arizona, surrounded by desert hills that I'd disappear into to get away from home stress, be alone and spin stories in my head. The wide-open desert inspired the setting for the God Mars series, and my old neighborhood and favorite hiking spot appear in Grayman Book Three. (Of course, I fled to the opposite--the rich green forests of the Pacific Northwest--as soon as I had the chance.)
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
First book I ever read, five years old: Gulliver's Travels. Really. (Followed by The Tales of King Arthur, written in Olde English.) Classic adventure, fantastic worlds (and pretty adult stuff). My parents got me a subscription to a scholastic book-of-the-month, and it was all classic adventure lit. I learned a lot about storytelling from those books, and a lot about writing, style, plot.
Earth’s forces have been knocked out of orbit and are marooned on what they believe is an infected planet. A relief fleet is incoming, its cargo and intent unknown. Meanwhile, the resurrected Terina and her symbiotic Companion have seized control of the Stations, and are proposing the unthinkable to protect the peoples of Mars from another sterilizing Apocalypse.
Colonel Ram has been translocated to Earth against his will to stop the technological demon Asmodeus, who has made his own way there, intending to wreak havoc on that completely vulnerable planet. But both find an Earth that’s been changed by tragedy and social upheaval beyond anything they’d imagined. And that utopia will do anything to protect itself.
Shattered by the revelation of what the nanotech entity Yod has done to reality, Colonel Ram can’t afford to wallow in his paralyzing doubt. The technological demon Asmodeus is escalating his war against Earthside Command, with all the peoples of Mars caught in the crossfire, and there may be no force on any world capable of stopping him.
A terrifying new nanotechnology weapon threatens the lives of everyone on Mars. An adopted Nomad finally learns the truth about where he comes from, but at devastating cost. And the technological ghost of a murdered scientist rises to seek revenge for the deaths of his wife and child.
Earth’s reckless use of a nuclear weapon has threatened the lives of those living in Melas, prompting a band of Nomads to seek a new home in the more livable—and more dangerous—Coprates to the east. A young Eternal embarks on a journey to prove himself a hero. A former enemy tries to earn her place in the UN planetary forces. And a terrifying new threat arises from a world that never happened.
As the peoples of Mars find themselves caught in an escalating war between an oppressive Earth and an apparently invincible enemy who claims to be from an alternate future, Colonel Ram awakens to find that he has been remade into an immortal superhuman in order to try to save all that he holds dear. But those he would help are terrified of what he’s become. And he’s not the only one of his kind…
Mike Ram has been missing for six months, but the Grayman hasn’t been idle. Now, heroes and villains must work together to bring down a conspiracy that has been manipulating both sides of the War on Terror for power and profit, knowing that their actions will likely destroy them as well.
The marooned UN survivors continue to try to establish peaceful relations with the competing factions on Mars, a challenge that becomes more urgent when a radically changed Earth finally does answer their distress calls. Because Earth does fear what’s happened on Mars, perhaps enough to attempt once again to destroy all life on the surface.
In the most intense Grayman yet, a terrorist mastermind holds the world hostage with a technology-destroying weapon, forcing Mike Ram into an odyssey of horror toward a devastating realization. Meanwhile, the omnipresent AI “Dee” is showing more and more independent initiative in pursuing its primary directive…
The newly-activated multinational counter-terror force begins global operations, and Mike Ram’s fame grows with every staged act of violence. Initially a stunning success, “Operation: Safe for Democracy” is soon challenged by a new terrorist leader who rises to resist them in spectacular fashion.
The survivors of a nuclear disaster on Mars awaken after a half-century in chemical hibernation, and try to unravel the mystery of why no rescue has come for them. Attempts to contact Earth fail, and they begin to encounter the descendants of other survivors...
The enigmatic “Grayman” has been killing known terrorists throughout Europe in spectacularly brutal fashion. Captured by Coalition forces, he is recruited by a joint military and intelligence project to create the ultimate counter-terror force, only to find himself being carefully groomed into something unthinkable: a popular hero.