01Jan2012: MilSciFi.com interviews Myke Cole, author of the military
science fiction novel, CONTROL POINT, Shadow Ops: series
MilSciFi: "Welcome. Please tell us a little
something about your novel."
Cole: "CONTROL POINT is the first novel
in the SHADOW OPS series. The book explores a future where magic has reentered
the world and random people are "coming up Latent," manifesting
dangerous magical powers. The government responds by creating the Supernatural
Operations Corps (SOC), who track down and take out "Selfers" who refuse
to submit their magic to government control. Oscar Britton, an army officer
whose main job is to assist in these anti-Selfer runs, suddenly manifest
magical ability of his own, and is forced to go on the run from his former
friends and colleagues.
The book is a "gun and sorcery" epic, taking the real,
modern military (at the fire-team level, dealing with counterinsurgency, the
blurred line between warfighter and police officer) and adding magic to the
mix. It also addresses tougher social questions about how big bureaucracies
deal with people who are outside the norms of their rules and processes.
The book will appeal to those who just want to geek out on
hard-bitten action (who would win in a fight between a helicopter gunship and a
dragon?) and those who want to see how the military would deal with the
existence of magic, told by an author who has lived practically his whole
professional life in and around the military."
MilSciFi: "Is this part of a large series or
Cole: "It's the first in a 3 book series.
The next book will be FORTRESS FRONTIER, which will be released in February
2013, followed by BREACH ZONE, coming out a year later."
MilSciFi: "What inspired you to write this
Cole: "I love the military dearly and
have been in/around it my whole life, but it is a rigid and bureaucratic
organization, happy to steamroll good people because of regulations. I was
working in the Pentagon over a decade ago, knee deep in that rigid bureaucracy
and I kept asking myself, "what if there were elves wandering the halls?
What if there were Sorcerers here? How would the rules deal with that? What
kind of new rules would they have to make?"
The answer was complex. Of course, they would screw it up. But
they would also do wonderful and amazing things with it. The fantasizing about
that question became the basis for CONTROL POINT and the SHADOW OPS
MilSciFi: "Does science and technology play
an important role in this story (or in your work in general), or is it
secondary to the story telling and characterization?"
Cole: "CONTROL POINT is military fantasy,
with magic as the main operator. That said, I struggled mightily to get the
military hardware right (my last tour in Iraq was in 2008, and gear has changed a bit
since then). Understanding muzzle velocity, magazine capacity, weight of
interceptor plates, fuel ranges and so on are critical in writing an accurate
military story that will hold water with real life operators, so I did pay
attention to it."
MilSciFi: "Do you have plans to expand upon,
or write other works based on this novel?"
Cole: "If the fan response to the SHADOW
OPS series is strong enough, I could happily write in this universe for the
rest of my days. As it stands, I'm under contract for 3 books."
MilSciFi: "Most authors we encounter write
novellas/novels, do you write short stories, and if so do you find it a
Cole: "I wrote short stories when I was
first starting out because I thought it was what would help me to break through
into novel writing. The truth is that the short story is just a different form.
If you want to be a novelist, you need to be writing novels. I read mostly
novels and therefore write them as well. I will occasionally write a short
story if there's an idea that doesn't merit a novel length work and I want to
shake it out, but it's a much more difficult form for me."
MilSciFi: "Since time is of the essence for
getting a read up to speed in a short story, do you have a strategy, or
preferred method for doing this?"
Cole: "I try to start both my novels and
short stories the same way: with explosive action that hooks the reader and
lays out the universe, characters and goals in short order. This is one of the
reasons I prefer novel writing, you can take your time to do that right. In a
short story, the challenge of avoiding info-dumping is much, much harder."
MilSciFi: "What advice would you give the
aspiring military science fiction writer?"
Cole: "Apply that military discipline.
Stop whining, start pushing. If you want to be a writer, you are signing up for
hell. You need to be able to embrace that misery and hard work every bit as
much as a marine does. And as in the military, only RESULTS count. Forget
marketing and networking and focus on CRAFT. When you have a dynamite novel, you
can start with the schmoozing and self promotion. I wrote a blog post on this
very topic at (click here to view).
MilSciFi: "Who is your single-most influence
in science fiction and what impact have they had on our own work?"
Cole: "Jack Campbell's LOST FLEET series.
He has the perfect blend of respect for the military while detailing its flaws
and failings. The man can write bickering officers with a sensitivity and
authenticity that can only be done by a guy whose been there."
MilSciFi: "What is the one thing you find the
most difficult about writing military science fiction?"
Cole: "Being balanced. Stories demand
drama, and drama is easily found in polarized views of the military machine.
But that's lazy storytelling. Life is complex and nuanced, and good writing
takes those complexities into account and explores them. Treating the military
in an evenhanded fashion is the hardest thing about military writing, but when
you do it right, it's also the most rewarding."
MilSciFi: "Is military science fiction the
only thing you write, or is there something else out there we should be looking
Cole: "So far, military themed stories
are the only novel length works I'm doing. I'm certainly not against branching
out (I keep teasing my publisher that I'm going to write a regency romance some
day), but this is the field I know and there's tons of room to explore."
MilSciFi: "Do you have any other projects in
Cole: "I have one original trilogy
proposal being test-read right now, and I am negotiating for some possible
media tie-in work. I would love to write for comic books or video games."
MilSciFi: "Do you have any upcoming author
Cole: "I will be a guest at Arisia (Boston, 2nd weekend in January) and Confusion (Detroit, 3rd weekend in January). I will also be
doing a reading at the Soho Digital Gallery of Art (New York City) on February 7th Details are at http://www.hourwolf.com/nyrsf/
MilSciFi: "Thank you for your time, and above all, thank you for your service to us all!"
Cole: "Thanks so much for having me!"