24Oct2011: MilSciFi.com interviews Steven
Montano, author of the military science fiction series BLOOD SKIES.
MilSciFi: "Welcome. Please tell us a little
something about your novels."
Montano: "The BLOOD SKIES novels are set in
a post-apocalyptic future, where an unexplained catastrophic event called The
Black has merged Earth with uncounted other worlds. This shift and the resulting melding of
realities are far from pretty, and the event has resulted in a great deal of
devastation, which has left much of the "new" world decimated. Now, in the ruins of these wastelands, humans
have bonded together to form the Southern Claw Alliance, a coalition of
city-states that works together for survival.
The Southern Claw battles the Ebon Cities, a deadly regime of militant
vampire cities bent on destroying what is left of the human race. Only humankind's mastery of sorcery – one of
the newfound powers available in this world After The Black – and the efforts
of the Southern Claw military have allowed them to survive in this conflict for
as long as they have.
The first novel (simply titled BLOOD
SKIES) introduces the world After The Black and follows the travels of a young
Southern Claw warlock named Eric Cross.
The team that Cross is assigned to, Viper Squad, must track down a
traitorous witch who intends to give vital Southern Claw secrets to the
vampires of a renegade necropolis.
In the second novel, BLACK SCARS, Cross is
given a mission to locate information that could stop a demonic shadow once
captive on another world. In order to
find the means of stopping this creature, Cross must team up with corrupt prison
wardens and brave both the hazardous wastelands and the dangers of a vampire
The series is slated to run a total of 6
books, plus a prologue novella called SOMETHING BLACK…, which will be released
MilSciFi: "What inspired you to write this
Montano: "I had a dream, oddly enough, about
a group of women trapped in a forest glade at the foot of a vast mountain. The women lived a peaceful but wary
existence, and they were hunted by evil unicorns. As fruity as it sounds when described on
paper, the dream was vivid and quite terrifying, and I wrote a short piece of
prose about the dream that eventually grew into an important part of the BLOOD
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?"
Montano: "I'd have to say it's secondary. With the nature of the world setting, a great
deal remains unexplained even to the characters experiencing the story, who
simply do whatever they can to survive. I
firmly believe that characters are the single most important element to any
story – without good characters, there really isn't much of a point to the rest
That being said, even though a great deal
of "pseudo-science" is involved in my novels, I try to keep
everything grounded in its gritty post-apocalyptic setting. My books may have magic and vampires, but the
world of BLOOD SKIES is still based around trying to exist in a harsh physical
MilSciFi: "Most authors we encounter write
novellas/novels, do you write short stories, and if so do you find it a
Montano: "I don't write too many short
stories, but I do write fiction serials entitled "Tales of A Blood Earth",
tales set in the BLOOD SKIES universe. Installments appear on my site every
week or so."
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?"
Montano: "You have to be much more efficient
with your prose when doing shorter fiction.
It's important to keep both the plot and the language
straightforward. That doesn't mean
things have to be simple, mind you…it's
just necessary, when writing shorter fiction, to get right to the point, so
that you can immerse your reader quickly."
MilSciFi: "What advice would you give the
aspiring military science fiction writer?"
Montano: "Have a clear vision of your world
setting. If you're grounding things in
the real world, be sure to know your topic.
If you're creating a new world, it's important to try and keep tabs of
all of the seemingly mundane details that make our world a place that we take
for granted. I'm not saying you need to
go through and identify every type of edible flower or fruit-fly on your alien
planet (not that doing so doesn't sound invigorating), but you need to be
cognizant of those sorts of details so that you can make your world all that
MilSciFi: "Who is your single-most influence
in science fiction and what impact have they had on our own work?"
Montano: "That's a hard one. In military sci-fi, Robert Heinlein and John
Steakley are both big influences. On the
military fantasy side, I'd say Robert Jordan, John Marco and Steven Erikson
have all written military-related work I greatly enjoy."
MilSciFi: "What is the one thing you find the
most difficult about writing military science fiction?"
Montano: "Research. I have never served in the military (though
my father did), but I have family in the military and I am an avid reader and
history buff. Even then, the amount of
research sometimes required to make sure that you're painting an accurate and
realistic picture of the military elements of your story can be daunting, at
MilSciFi: "Please tell us about your
publisher, and how did you came to chose them?"
Montano: "I self-publish, so I guess I came
to choose myself by default, and because I couldn't find a different me.
Seriously, though, I tried my hand at "traditional"
publication, but the amount of time and constant energy required just to chase
down agents and publishers proved to be too much for my impatient brain.
Self-publishing is no walk in the park –
you have to brand yourself almost constantly, make contacts and market your
work almost all on your own, and still find time to write quality books for
people to enjoy.
All in all, it's been a heck of a ride."
MilSciFi: "Do you have any other projects in
Montano: "The afore mentioned SOMETHING
BLACK… is in the editing stage. Book 3
in the series, SOULRAZOR, is in early development, but I plan to have the rough
draft churned out by the end of the year for an early 2012 release."
MilSciFi: "Thank you, for your time."
Montano: " Thanks for having me!