Hi, Claerie. Thank you for inviting me to interview with you today.
What is your name?
When you find G Mitchell Baker or Mitchell Baker on the Internet, you will likely have found this author…
What do you write?
With more than twenty novels published worldwide, nineteen novels In Print now, perhaps the best-known Series is The Adaptable NeoNature Technology Series, a Bio-Social Science Fiction series for young readers.
I also write The Emerson Series (Contemporary Father Friendly Family Literary Fiction), The Lethal Believers Series (Paranormal Myth and Mystery), and, The Kinny Adventure Series (Family Values Adventure for Young Readers).
Where can readers find you on social media?
Just for fun, if you could be any mythological being, what or who would you be?
In The Lethal Believers Series, I developed characters from Greek Mythology. Hesiod is a mythological character that created Greek mythos. I enjoyed working with Hesiod given his role for creating and interacting with mythology. I would appreciate being the Hesiod character and to imagine a time when myths created became integral to Greek society. Through my writing, the myth Lamia lives on in contemporary settings and I am fascinated given the opportunity to measure how people lived their lives using mythology as a reference in society. I think it would be fascinating to walk a day in Hesiod’s shoes … come to think of it, as an author I think I may have already taken a long stroll…
- You write across so many different genres! What genre were you first attracted to as a writer and why?
Originally, I wrote a contemporary crime thriller. An attempt to write about what I thought I knew.
The next project was about writing what was attractive. The Emerson Series started out as literary fiction with a focus on family challenge and values… through the course of the Series the genre evolved and refined to become what I believe is the newer genre of Father Friendly Family Fiction… With three novels written (Involvement, Consistency, Awareness), this Series continues to be attractive to me, as I continue to write the fourth novel in The Emerson Series (The Nurture of Emerson).
- Do you find there are central themes or elements that are unique to your books? (For example, are you drawn to anti-heroes, antagonists, certain settings etc.) Why do those things stand out to you?
Great question … My pallet seems to be expansive. I have lived in many places … travelled to become familiar with many settings, but the central themes or elements unique through all my series are more the sociology… I have an affinity for social psychology. My stories, the characters seem to follow my lead interest for the study of the development, structure, and functioning of human society. Often, my stories, given very entertaining stories, do not shy from the study of social problems. As the characters develop along their arcs, the themes steeped in sociology tend to refine and the social psychology emerges to focus on social actions and on interrelations of personality, values, and mind with social structure and culture. Examples include The Kinny Adventure Series where I explore whether young readers can live full lives away from electronics … and, whether young readers can still have fun and enjoy challenge when focusing on relationships with others within the present social structure and expectations.
The Adaptable NeoNature Technology Series is Bio-Social Science Fiction that challenges the young readers and problems solvers of today to study (think critically, divergently and systemically) and consider the development, structure, and functioning of human society. Using current topic I encourage young readers to engage the study of social problems given the availability of science and technology and to refine the social focus on social actions and on interrelations of personality, values, and mind with social structure and the advancing culture of science and technology.
The Lethal Believers Series focuses on a protagonist (Danta) motivated to protect The Innocents, be they children, animals, people who cannot protect themselves from predators in society. Danta partners with Greek Myth Lamia, who seeks to rehabilitate her mythology by joining the mission to protect the innocents.
The Emerson Series places a struggling father at the heart of the story and explores how, within contemporary social structure a father who chooses to be involved and consistently Involved in his children’s lives can thereafter become more aware and only then be in a position to nurture as a parent and father. The theme is to focus on social actions and on interrelations of personality, values, and mind within a fractured social structure, and to advance the unification of family.
- One pro and one con about writing in each of your respective genres?
Writing in multiple genre means I can move to a fresh pallet … to new material and never feel short of inspiration. I have never experienced writers block because I move between genres and active interests. When exhausted in one genre I find energy in another…
The only downside I can think of is sometimes I have to choose which genre to focus on, while wanting to write in more than one… Not really, a problem … but I could not think of anything else.
- What are the characters in your most recent book like?
My most recent book release is from The Adaptable NeoNature Technology Series. Volume 8 is WeaponzANNT. The lead character in this story is Moderamen … the first complex Artificial Intelligence elected President of the Unites States after campaigning on the slogan, Complex A.I. to lead in Complex Times.
In this story, Dr. Niles Gens and Dr. Austina Doceo, the inventors of The Adaptable NeoNature Technology, have encouraged Ravi and Eight to conscientiously develop and manage the advanced AI by avoiding False First technological development. Ultimately, one of the campaign promises fulfilled by Moderamen is to provide solution to the gun control issue in the United States … without adversely affecting anyone’s Constitutional right to bear arms.
- What is/are one or two pieces of advice that you learned while publishing your first book that you wish you had known before you started?
There are many different kinds of editors and editor personalities involved in the publishing process. I wish I would have known more about the kinds of editing, editing philosophies, and the potential for editing personalities to influence and affect a writing project in both positive and negative ways. My advice would be for any author to learn, and continue learning about the process of editing within publishing processes.
- How old were you when you published your first book and how has your process changed since then?
My first novels published when in my late thirties. Oh my … I am happy to report that everything about the process has changed for the better … attention and persistence, when developing one’s craft over time is usually rewarded.
- Favorite quote from your own work?
In WeaponzANNT, the latest novel from The Adaptable Neo Nature Technology Series, the complex Artificial Intelligence technology, Moderamen is at a campaign stop. Moderamen is more confidently engaging reporters and supporters and Dr. Ravi, Moderamen’s science and technology creator and minder, is concerned that Moderamen’s campaign stops are becoming more the Town Hall meeting where Moderamen is comfortable about responding to all questions, and for talking about anything deemed relevant.
Ravi looked on, surprised Moderamen had launched into a history lesson. He mumbled so a Washington Reporter could hear, “There is a genius in this presentation, isn’t there…?”
“You tell me, teased the Washington Reporter.
Ravi said no more…”
- How does your marketing strategy evolve for each of your works?
There is no-longer traditional marketing, when the publishing world remains subjected to the monopolies of the Frightful Five to include Amazon and Facebook. Mega-publishers join to control the buy-sell of advertising and mass marketing for merchandise (and not necessarily books) only to totally disregard any grassroots reading experience that I believe is essential to the survival of a worthy publishing and a reading culture.
I just attended a social media marketing conference that was a thinly disguised effort for a publisher to promote its pre-paid publishing model… My books sold from a display at this conference … the publisher sold no books. I do not believe there is any substitute for offering a good product. As for how people will learn about good products in the current publishing culture, it is more and more difficult to develop relationships and benefit from word of mouth. However, I perceive this micro strategy is all that works when the large business monopolies are determined to use marketing to keep readers ignorant about good work (squash the bug), and otherwise spend the money to promote prurient and titillating material for short term profit.
Given all this, a niche approach is realistic, and to fuel the niche with good material will lead to a following, but to think it will amount to large numbers is much like expecting to win the lottery in this present writing/publishing climate.
- Do you try more to be original or give readers what they want?
No formula here … I have written with a purpose to create original and interesting stories… it is very hard to accomplish, but very satisfying when a project is completed and there is the feeling that the work contributes to something meaningful…
- What writing accomplishment are you most proud of…?
That is a tough question for me to answer. Each Series … each stand alone novel is so unique… there is a common pride given my body of work in that each and every book resists the cheap humor, or the titillating experience to deliver entertaining, yet meaningful stories of strong characters in plausible settings and circumstances. Where there is no longer that accomplishment of pride, I believe it will be time to slow down the writing and reassess…
- What do you owe to the real-life people who inspired your characters?
Because I am committed to Picasso’s definition of creativity … in that one should take at least three unrelated sources of inspiration to create something unique… original and perhaps interesting, I do not have real life people who inspire a specific character… no character created within my stories is based on a single person… Having said as much, a journalist and interviewer who had interviewed my about five years ago came up to me at the release of WeaponzANNT… We later had coffee and I immediately confessed that in a rare moment, she directly inspired a minor, yet essential character in The Emerson Series. The freelance interviewer was a character she liked and appreciated, but out of the hundreds of characters, I have created in all the series I write, this is the only example of my owing any person kudos for a character they directly inspired.
- What is your favorite writing-related memory?
This may sound somewhat evasive, but it is not … I believe it is more the creative drive when I answer, I believe I am still waiting for it…
- What is a favorite moment you have had with a fan/someone who has read your work?
When I was teaching and coaching baseball in Alabama some years ago… I continued to write and in fact completed Soccer Tommies Baseball Mommies during that time and experience… Well… during that year I received invitation to dinner in Tennessee, my books read by school principals to students, and asked to receive a direct phone call from a reader in Virginia… We talked about my work for about an hour. Indeed, the experience evolved to have a feel of being an Author in Residence with I continue to remember with great appreciation.
14, In addition to being an author, you also started your own publishing company, Smithwick Books. Why did you decide to start it?
As I shifted from Traditional Publishing to publishing my own work, an editor who had worked on some of my earlier books approached me to publish her work. I had always enjoyed her work and agreed to work with her because her work deserves an audience.
Recently, I received notice that the last wishes and intent from the estate of a friend included the request that I, Smithwick Books publish the book … finished only a week prior…
Smithwick Books is as micro as it gets, and has been a response to my desire to control and improve my craft, while also responding to those around me on a micro-level. I guess these developments are consistent with my belief that publishing should not be mass marketing by megalomaniac business. My example and my encouragement, is for more authors not only to write from their cave or cottage, but to manage their works from there as well. I guess the hope is that original and interesting work will once again circulate through our social structure, rather than be media imposed in the form of manufactured excitement of some overly funded advertising campaign.
15. How has working behind the scenes influenced your understanding of the industry?
It is easy to be cynical … there is great disappointment when the box bookstores say there is no shelf space, when the emphasis is merchandising garage sale items and selling the shelf space for product placement.
The disappointment continues when Independents resist working with Amazon despite there being dedicated marketing channels where all make a decent return…
Frankly, the publishing industry is in trouble. When eBook sales fail because of the confusion and disrespect it takes to move people away from meaningful, quality literary stories, I see as much the bellwether for print publishing as well.
Why would not the same monopoly of arrogance and rigidity in the name of short-term singular, formulaic and sequel profit, not cause more of the cascading failure within the publishing industry? The lack of originality, diversity, openness in the publishing industry would only mean more of the lesser.
Computer generated imagery will never replace the imagination, but we are presently in a time when mass-marketing is doing a great job of leading people in the direction of less imagination and more inundation of motion and noise … for the sake of motion and noise absent original and interesting story-telling.
For my part, I will remain interested in original and interesting story telling, despite the dominant tendencies to undermine a higher purpose of entertainment.
16. What is the most surprising thing you have learned since starting Smithwick Books?
No surprises really… original and interesting will always be a hard sell in the current publishing milieu. I accept as much and continue to participate in the publishing world, ironically more comfortable now than ever. I guess the level of comfort has been a pleasant surprise … the expectation that original and interesting may again be attractive is the foundation for worthwhile optimism …
17. What can you say about the process of publishing with Smithwick Books?
As I alluded above … Smithwick originated as a response to a request to work toward providing wonderful stories the opportunity to develop/maintain an audience. The process is not, and should not be complicated if one accepts that one book is that of millions all with the creator’s belief each one is original and interesting… an impossibility really, but to test as much before an audience is indeed a privilege well deserved if an writer/author puts in the effort to create the story.
18. Who should submit to Smithwick Books?
Original and interesting stories that consider a person, place or remarkable circumstances with our social structure, absent sensational, prurient formula, will always be attractive … more likely the source of pride for all who choose to be involved.
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As always, keep making magic, word weavers!