Myke Cole Interview - Author of Shadow Ops - Control Point

Uploaded by buzzymultimedia on 05.09.2012

Transcript: Interviews Myke Cole
JMW: Hello. This is Jean Marie Ward for With me
today is Myke Cole, coastguard officer and the author of Shadow Ops series,
featuring renegade sorcerer Oscar Britton. Welcome Myke.
Myke: Thanks for having me.
JMW: Oscar starts Control Point, the first book of the series. As an
army officer who is totally vibes in to the company line. But that soon
changes. How much of that is total fiction and how much of it reflects your
own experience in the military.
Myke: That's a heck of a question to lead of with. I would say that the
military is a large bureaucracy. And I think one of the things I wanted to
explore through Control Point, was a phenomenon of large bureaucracies
having to deal with society threatening existential changes through the
lens of a single person. The fact is, if you're going to move hundreds of
millions of dollars of equipment, hundreds of thousands of people all in
the same direction, you really can't adjust for personal idiosyncrasies and
individual quirks. So sometimes, people get steamrolled. And, sometimes,
those are good people. And sometimes, those people have to make hard
choices between the mission and what they feel is right. I have certainly
seen that in the real world, and it was something I wanted to explore
through fantasy.
JMW: One of the things I like about the book was, having worked in
DOD, it doesn't matter what you are dealing with, there's a regulation for
Myke: Absolutely. And that is the thing, those regulations deal poorly
with, you know, the gray areas in life, which there are always are. And
those gray areas, especially dealing with something incredibly dangerous
against which individual rights have to be balanced, that creates a really
cool mix of a story. That is something I wanted to explore.
JMW: We talked about the bad aspect of being in the military.
There's a regulation for that. There's frequent conflict between individual
rights and liberties, and the needs of the mission. But, you've written
that serving in the military has also helped you as a writer. How is that
Myke: Well, I do want to say this. While I'm cognizant about the
regulations and challenges of being in the military, I love being in the
military. You're going to need a crowbar to get me out of it. It's been an
incredibly enriching and expansive experience for me. And part of that is,
obviously, personal discipline. But more importantly, my joining the
military was the opposite of what I expected it would be. I expected the
military to be this family and machine that would take me in, that would
take care of my every need and tell me what to do. And in fact the opposite
is true. The military emphasizes personal responsibility and consequences.
No one stands there and makes me put my uniform on correctly. No one makes
me get to work on time. No one makes me fulfill the obligations but
consequences are enforced, if I don't meet the obligations of my military
contract of my commissioning oath. And what's amazing about that is it has
made me so much more competent. There was a sort of leveling up if you
will, in my ability to deal with all aspects of life. Because the reality
of it is when you look back for someone to ask a question to, there's no
one to ask. The military has taught me to be responsible for myself and
frankly, to be responsible for the actions of others, which is really the
role of a leader. And that has been such an incredibly enfranchising
experience, not just for me as a writer but for everything. I mean people
joke around and they'll say like "man up," "cowboy up," "suck it up." And
we say that but there's a difference between saying it and actually feeling
it, and being able to say yourself, "wow, I don't know how I'm going to get
done, but I've got to or there's going to be consequences and being able to
push yourself through that zone of discomfort.
JMW: But your military experience is not just about leadership.
You've also been involved in some rather amazing events that loom large on
the American experience, the deep-water horizon of spill Hurricane Irene.
Have you used any of the things that you've observed or did in those
circumstances, in your writing?
Myke: Yes. Well, you're going to really see it in the third book in the
Shadow OPS: Bridgezone, which should be coming out in January of 2014. When
you deal with major natural disasters, FEMA has a system called NIMS,
National Incident Management System. And it's a effectively sort of a
command control system for setting up command posts, for public affairs,
functions and supply, functions and operational functions. And that is the
actual way that the United States approaches disasters. And all of these
information, you can read more about how we do it FEMA's website. I don't
want to spoil anything, but let's just say there's an incident of natural
proportions in Bridgezone and I am writing the NIM System from a fictional
perspective. You have an army of sorcerers that are responding to a
national incident, a national emergency. And, you know, there's no reason
for us to think the NIM System would be going away. I'm putting that into
play. That's a very specific example of how that works. You know if there's
one thing that I think that people look for when they read urban fantasy,
which is essentially layering magic over modern society is a sense of
authenticity and a sense of genuineness in the narrative. And I'm lucky
enough to have had my experiences or I should say hopefully make that
JMW: How many books do you plan in the Shadow Ops Series?
Myke: As many as people would pay me to write, you know. Right now, the
series is under contract for three. Control Point is out. The sequel
Fortress Frontier is turned in and will be being released in January of
2013, in about 9 months. Bridgezone will come out a year after. And I am
currently pitching a new series that is also a military fantasy. Which I
just got the green light on the pitch from my agent, literally yesterday.
And, if the Shadow Ops series has currency, and there's an audience for it,
I would be happy to continue indefinitely.
JMW: Do you plan to continue on focusing on military or urban themed
fantasy, or do you plan to branch out in other genres?
Myke: It's funny. I've written several blog posts on this. I'm frustrated.
The romances genres incredibly popular. And the general answer I got when I
talk to romance authors, men cannot write romances. And I do mean erotic
romances. As men, they have to use female pseudonym. They can't put a male
picture on it. I find it intentionally unfair. I don't think there's a
business bases behind it. And I would absolutely love to be that guy who
breaks the barrier. I have got a lot of learning to do, before I can do it.
I certainly love reading romance. But that's a huge genre with a lot of
talented writers in it, and I have a lot of reading and learning to do.
But boy, would I love to bust out. Obviously, it's the military thing that
I'm doing right now. It is playing to my strength. And also I'm not veil
for a while but if I think of myself, I have non-fiction credits. If you go
to my website at and look at my non-fiction credits, I've
written a lot of stuff like that, I've written satire. But I do like to
think of myself of a writer at large so hopefully down the road. But,
JMW: Multiple genres. Romance, possibly mystery.
Myke: Right.
JMW: Possibly even literary fiction.
Myke: Who knows.
JMW: How do you balance the two careers? A coastguard officer and
Myke: Well, I'm a reservist, which means a reservist can serve one week in
a month or two weeks in a year. Now, anyone who is actually in the reserves
will tell you it's a full-time job for which you receive part-time pay. But
the reality of it is, my obligation, my time-commitment obligations is less
than an active duty person, so that helps. The real area I run into trouble
is there are limits of speech when you are member of the military. I'll
give you an example. I just wrote an essay on military science fiction that
I'd like to get published. But it contains commentary on the United States
military and it's policies. And when you are an officer who serves in
uniform, you have obligations to that limit what you can say, because you
can be construed on speaking on behalf of the government. So, I always have
to balance those two things and be careful about what sort of speech I get
in. And that's frustrating, but that's what it takes to serve in the US
military. Sometimes we have to curtail our own rights to make sure we're
capable of defending for others.
JMW: Okay. You mentioned that you made a pitch to your agent. Can
you tell us something about that?
Myke: It's similar to Shadow Ops, but it has more magic and it revolves
around, where Shadow Ops I would describe is more superhero. I would
describe this idea as more cult. This idea of a union between fire-team
level, hard special forces operators and magic is still at the basis of it.
I think it's different enough, that folks who were not into the Shadow Ops
series or want something differently will enjoy it. But I also think, it's
similar enough that it is plays the strengths, and that fans of the Shadow
Ops series will like it very much.
JMW: And you wouldn't have to use a pseudonym.
Myke: No.
JMW: I heard you talk about something a game?
Myke: Yes, this is so amazing. I'm still high from this. So David Robinson
who runs the writers pod-casts, Writers Round Table podcast, which I have
appeared on before. I highly recommend our viewers check out. They
contacted me before coming out here, and said, "Hey, you know I worked up a
game, based on your Shadow Ops Universe. I was wondering if I could demo it
for you. I encourage any kind of fan participation in my work, so I was
excited. But, frankly I wasn't sure what to expect. Well we played it once
yesterday, it was so brilliantly conceived. And the mechanics of the game,
which is of course, the hard part, that conceded the game, he sort of took
my book. But, the mechanics of the game were so solid, that I just demoed
it again, played it again today, in front of my agent, in front of Peter V.
Brett, who's a major writer. In front of Justin Landon from Staffer's
Musings, and a couple of fans who are big time gamers. Everyone was like
"this is rock solid". So right now Dave and I are just sort of reeling from
that initial success and thinking about how we're going to move forward
with it. But we're definitely going to try to develop it. It's a sort of,
simplified strategy war game played on a table top. Also, like frankly, how
cool is it that my art inspired someone to make, not just a game, but a
really good game. I really hope we can go somewhere great with it.
JMW: This is the best job ever, isn't it?
Myke: Yeah, it is. It is absolutely the best job ever.
JMW: Okay. Anything you would like to add?
Myke: Well, I don't know when your viewers are going to see this, but as
folks know, tomorrow is Memorial day, which is a pretty solemn day for us.
I've done three spins in Iraq. I was one of the lucky people who made it
back, there's plenty of people who didn't, and that's something I try to
remember. I always like to encourage our viewers, the military as we've
already discussed, has it's frustration and has it's challenges. But in the
end, I see it as one of the biggest forces for good in this country, and I
would like folks to consider, if they really want to help out; to consider
a reserve commitment. Or if you do have limitations that prevent you from
serving in uniform, all five branches have auxiliary's that are open to
civilians, and I hope folks would consider stepping up and helping out.
JMW: Okay. Thank you, Mike. And thank you, from
Myke: Thanks so much for having me.
JMW: Our pleasure.