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Author Steven Montano's Black Scars


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author Steven Montano

Steven Montano
Blood Skies series

: 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 city-state.

The series is slated to run a total of 6 books, plus a prologue novella called SOMETHING BLACK…, which will be released around Christmas."

MilSciFi: "What inspired you to write this story?"

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 SKIES mythology."

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 of it."

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 reality."

MilSciFi: "Most authors we encounter write novellas/novels, do you write short stories, and if so do you find it a challenge?"

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 more realistic."

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 times."

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.  =D

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 the works?"

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!

Steven Montano's website is:



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Copyright ©2011 Mike McPhail, All Rights Reserved


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