Wednesday, August 19, 2020

6 Books with Michael Underwood

Michael R. Underwood is an author, podcaster, and publishing professional. His series include the Ree Reyes Geekomancy books, the Stabby Award-finalist Genrenauts series, collaboratively-written serial Born to the Blade, and the forthcoming Annihilation Aria. He’s been a bookseller, a sales representative, and was the North American Sales & Marketing Manager for Angry Robot Books. He is also a co-host of Speculate! and a guest host on the Hugo Award-finalist The Skiffy and Fanty Show.

Mike lives in Baltimore with his wife, their dog Oreo, and an ever-growing library. He also loves geeking out with games and making pizzas from scratch.

Today we ask him about his Six Books:

1) What book are you currently reading? 

I just started reading Velocity Weapon by Megan E. O’Keefe. I got to work with Megan on her Scorched Continent Series, which impressed me with their characterization, worldbuilding, and strong scene framing. I’m very excited to see how she makes space opera her own the way she did with the fantasy heist.

2) What upcoming book are you really excited about?

Savage Legion by Matt Wallace. Matt’s Sin Du Jour started coming out with around the same time as my Genrenauts books, and we struck up several conversations about the respective series and have gotten to hang out at some cons. Those books won my affection with their unforgettable and relatable characters, their conceptual boldness, and because Matt writes a damn good fight scene. Savage Legion looks like it could be a break-out book for him, earning tons of praise already, and I’m excited to be on board when it launches, since we have books coming out around the same time again this year.

3) Is there a book you’re currently itching to read again? 

The Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler. It hit me like a ton of bricks the first time around, and I keep seeing people talking about how the future it foresaw overlaps powerfully with the post-2017 world of the USA. So I am eager to re-read, except I have largely not had a good experience reading really intense stuff in The Current Era, so I am very ambivalent.

4) How about a book you’ve changed your mind about – either positively or negatively?

I really did not care for Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice until the last section of the book. Reading it in high school, I resented having to read it until I learned the reality of what was behind Mr. Darcy’s motivations and saw him trying to do right by Elizabeth and her family, and when that happened, I did a complete 180 on the book and have loved it ever since. I had a great time revisiting that love last year when Waypoint’s media & culture podcast Be Good And Rewatch It did a deep dive on the 1995 BBC miniseries production of P&P (with comparisons to the novel and to the 2005 film).

5) What’s one book, which you read as a child or a young adult, that has had a lasting influence on your writing?

A series I’ve thought about recently that I think made a bigger impact on me than I’d realized is the Death’s Gate Cycle by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman (starts with Dragon Wing). The series presents a universe where the four elements each have their own world in a multiverse. I remember a strong travelogue/magical setting tourism angle in those books, and they made a big impression on me in terms of worldbuilding and the idea of several connected worlds, each with their own unique characteristics and cultures. I’ve riffed on that type of worldbuilding in Genrenauts as well as in different ways in some projects that haven’t yet reached publication.

6) And speaking of that, what’s your latest book, and why is it awesome? 

My latest book is Annihilation Aria, a found-family space opera in the style of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, Star Wars, and books like Tim Pratt’s The Wrong Stars. I think it’s awesome because it features a happily-married couple having adventures, a system of space magic based on battle-songs and a giant sword, a migration of giant space turtles and the cities built on their backs, and the race to understand mysterious artifacts before they can be used to crush a nascent rebellion against an oppressive galactic empire. It’s earned a starred review from Booklist (my first!) as well as praise from Publisher’s Weekly, Black Gate Magazine, and more. I’m really proud of it as a representation of where I am with my writing, what I’ve learned, and how I want to meld worldbuilding, characterization, and action to tell better stories.

POSTED BY: Paul Weimer. Ubiquitous in Shadow, but I’m just this guy, you know? @princejvstin.