My assistant Gunther and I would like to welcome Mikel Andrews to the blog today. Here’s Mikel leaping over some rocks:
I don’t know Mikel very well, so I have to rely heavily on Gunther’s intrepid fact finding skills for some of the details. I’d like to note here that Gunther has been committing some errors lately. Being a good employer, I am trying to help him achieve excellence. Mistakes on Gunther’s part will be punished in swift and exotic ways.
BMK: Welcome! Please let me know if any of the information Gunther has provided me is inaccurate. Accept my apologies in advance for his failure.
MA: Oh, I think I can handle that. Thanks for having me, fellas.
BMK: So I discovered a brand new podcast today. It’s called 2 Dudes in the Woods. My assistant Gunther tells me you’re one of the 2 Dudes. What would you like to tell folks about the podcast?
MA: Score one for Gunther! I am the infamous “Dude 2.” “Dude 1” is my cousin, Wally, and we happen to have a passion for beers, movies, and one-upping each other at every turn. We work together and people always love our banter—even if they don’t like us! Plus, there’s so many polished, thought-out podcasts about specific topics out there, we thought, Hey, why not crack a beer, talk at a microphone, and see what happens?
BMK: Gunther and I listened to episodes #0 and #1 of your podcast this morning. Loved it. How long was it cooking before you were ready to post your first episode?
MA: Well, it was something Wally and I wanted to do for a while—well, Wally did for sure. We would talk hypothetically what we’d do if we had a show on the local radio station, WTIP. Then one day he shows up with some recording equipment and software. We did a trial run, I didn’t hate it, a couple days later Episode #0 is a go!
BMK: Gunther informs me your novel Coming of Mage was just released on June 2nd. What would you like to tell us about it?
MA: Uh, June 1st actually. Let’s see, imagine your favorite angsty John Hughes flick—Breakfast Club or Weird Science—but with wizards. That’s Coming of Mage. It’s all about freshman mage Quinn trying to impress the girl of his dreams, Emma, an alchemist. She needs a very rare stone to get into a prestigious Alchemy Academy and Quinn is bound and determined to get her one before summer ends. Along the way he finds out a lot about his friends, himself, and more than he ever wants to know about a seemingly innocent small town.
BMK: June 1st? Well, I’ll just have to have a little chat with Gunther about that. How long did it take you to write? Can you say a little about how it came to be published?
MA: Mage started as an idea for an entry in a short story contest dealing with the “tropes of fantasy.” But, like everything I write, it grew bigger than the short story realm, and became a novella. Quickly it was snatched up by North Star Press, doubled in size and richness, and now it’s a full-blown epic!
BMK: Gunther tells me you’re a HUGE Packer fan! That’s great news, because I am, too! Would you rather hang out with Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews, or another Packer?
MA: What’s a Packer?
BMK: Really, Gunther? Why would you tell me he’s a Packer fan if you didn’t even… Sorry, Mikel. This isn’t about Gunther, it’s about you. What kind of music are you into? Does it help you write, or do you need quiet times?
MA: I do need quiet times, that’s for sure. But listening to music plays a huge role in getting me in the mood to write. During Mage, I was listening to a lot of Bon Iver and Cold War Kids, but also Cyndi Lauper, Fleetwood Mac, Eddie Money. Anything to get me in that classic ’80s mindset.
BMK: Have you ever made your own beer, wine, or other booze? (Or ever wanted to?)
MA: I have not, but it’s always crossed my mind. If people can make it in prison toilets, how hard can it be, right? The closest I’ve come is infusing liquors. At my restaurant (I moonlight as a server) I made a killer jalapeno-raspberry vodka and an espresso-infused amaretto. I’d love to make a beer someday. I’d experiment with coffee and banana.
BMK: You talked about hiking in the podcast. One spot in particular, the Devil’s Punchbowl, seems like it’d make great fodder for some speculative fiction. Do you use Northern Minnesota’s landscape in your writing?
MA: Devil’s Kettle—Gunther!—is an awesome hike! Where the water empties into is anyone’s guess—a true North Shore mystery! And, yes, the North Shore has been vital in my writing. In fact, it seems like the missing element I was looking for. Really invigorated me. Which is why it had to be the setting for Coming of Mage.
BMK: Gunther tells me your favorite author is Jack Kerouac. What other authors are you into?
MA: Not even close, G-Man. Although, I think as an author, I have to say he is, right? Right. So when I’m not drinking in Kerouac’s entire collection, I really get into the Matts: Stover and Forbeck. They write in the fantasy and sci-fi realm and it’s amazing. Actually, that hardly does them justice. They really need to be experienced. Huge inspirations for Mage—in fact, I’m very proud to have a quote from Forbeck on my cover! Other than that, I read obscene amounts of Star Wars books.
BMK: What’s coming up next in the writing? Got another book brewing? Maybe some short stories?
MA: Oh, there’s a few things percolating for sure. In my mind, Coming of Mage is the start of a trilogy—like all good things—so there’s work to be done there. I’m also working on a manuscript about dragons, which are really my first love, literature-wise. Apart from that, summer is when I get antsy to return to the world of one of my more popular self-pubbed titles, Rust Sweat and Tears.
BMK: Obviously, in light of the factual inaccuracies he’s presented me with, Gunther’s punishment needs to be severe. I’ve got a pretty good idea about some of the horrible things I’ll do to help him learn to be more accurate in his fact finding. Do you have any suggestions of additional punishments for my lowly assistant?
MA: Sam Adams Cranberry Lambic is pretty terrible?
BMK: Where can folks find you on the interwebs?
MA: I’m all over the ‘webs. Facebook, Twitter @mikelandrews, my Blog. Or you can always have a listen to “2 Dudes in the Woods.”
BMK: Thanks for stopping by, Mikel! Everybody, go listen to that podcast. Highly entertaining. And check out Coming of Mage, too. I better go discipline Gunther now…