Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?
As I often—maybe crassly—put it, writing was my brain’s way of going to the bathroom. I had the fortune of being read to at a very early age, which gave me an appreciation of storytelling and the written word. Soon, the ol’ (or, young) creative bladder was full of ideas that had to come out. There were some detours—for much of my adolescence, I routed my creative energy into screenwriting and designing video games—but I returned to prose for its refreshingly solitary nature. With fiction, I’m not producing a blueprint. I’m making the thing, and it’s all on me if it doesn’t get done. So I began selling short stories when I was about 19, and wrote a novel a year till I sold one—Skunk Ape Semester—to a small press when I was 27.
What inspired you to write your book?
Like a lot of my books, it came from the intersection of different interests: physics, cosmology, mythology (from ancient Egypt to Celtic), paranormal phenomena, spirituality, and more. All these swirled together like cosmic debris for a while, before my subconscious eventually coalesced them into workable galaxy of an idea, which became Walking the Dusk. My books tend to be strange marriages. Dreamshores: Monster Island mixes stop-motion B-movie monsters with pantheism and the nature of consciousness.
What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?
Mostly to meditate on the vastness of not only the universe out there, but the universe within you and other people. Altogether, we inhabit, share and exist as one great mystery, and the book fancifully explores the possibilities of that mystery based on what crumbs we’ve been able to sweep together, as well as the limits of what a human brain can know.
What drew you into this particular genre?
I’ve always been drawn to speculative fiction—meaning any shade of fantasy, science fiction and horror. Particularly what’s now called “curio fiction”, which takes our world gives it an offbeat, mystical or fantastical edge. I think it’s a perfect vehicle to combine what I see as the more attractive qualities of a “literary” story—psychology, philosophy, culture, intellectual insight—with the broader imaginative probing of the supernatural, the nature of existence, God, consciousness, otherworldly realms, etc. The ideal is to fulfill the best that both “literary” and “genre” have to offer.
If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?
I would ask Megan Barry, the protagonist’s sister, how she reconciles in her head the bizarre things she witnessed as a child, and what worldview grew out of that that compelled her as an adult to seek whatever it was she sought. Did she know exactly what she was seeking? Does she now? She sort of represents a fear of mine: bright, creative, and restless, with no outlet, and no real direction.
What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?
If any, it would be Facebook, my only one. I’m taking a stand against all our time with social media. I think it’s been a net drain on society, honestly. And the years I tried building a platform on Twitter yielded little more than a sea of bots and people rudely and nakedly out for themselves. Sorry to sound like a downer. I just think we could all benefit from scaling back. Way back.
What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?
Keep the balance between hubris and humility. Hubris keeps you doing, from idea to idea, rejection to acceptance. It affirms you have a contribution to make. Humility allows you the self-awareness to make that contribution shine, to know when to check your worst impulses, or when your editor is right, and to ultimately grow your craft and career. Go to conferences, too. Meet people—in real life. Listen to what others have to say and develop a fine enough radar to know when it applies to you, and when it doesn’t. It’s unhealthy to always accept or always reject a piece of advice.
What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?
I have a dark urban fantasy coming out February 29th, 2024, Ancient Tides Ashore, which takes place on the Hawaiian island of Kauai and explores a psychic connection between a modern woman, an ancient Polynesian, and a mysterious elemental spirit in the local waters. I also have stories coming out in the anthologies December Tales II (Curious Blue Press) and Tangle & Fen (Crone Girls Press).
About the Author
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Mike Robinson is the award-winning author of multiple speculative fiction novels and dozens of short stories which have appeared in the likes of 2019’s American Gothic Fantasy anthology, Storyteller Magazine, A Woman Unbecoming, Underland Arcana and more. He has received honors from Writers of the Future, Publishers Weekly’s BookLife Contest, the Next Generation Indie Book Awards, Maxy Awards and others, and is also the editor of J.P. Barnett’s popular, award-winning “Lorestalker” series.
In between, he hikes (often with his two dogs), swims, draws, tries to learn the didgeridoo and, yes, has even been known to actually write a screenplay or two, some of which have received their own notices.