I have a Ph.D. in Sensory Science with a minor in Computer Science. I’ve been writing off and on for 40 years, however, Rome's Revolution is my first complete science fiction series, depicting the enduring love between a man from the 21st century and a woman from the 35th century. Between the two of them, they fend off various threats to mankind with lots of action and adventure in between. I have spent a tremendous amount of time reaching the science behind the science fiction. It is my hope that people will find it so realistic, they will believe that these stories are true, they just haven't happened yet. I have two children and live in Cherry Hill, NJ with my beautiful and talented wife Denise.
Tell us about your latest book.
My upcoming novel, entitled The Milk Run, continues in the 35th century world of the Vuduri originally created in my Rome’s Revolution trilogy. It follows the adventures of young Aason Bierak as he tries to rescue his sister who was kidnapped by creatures made only of light during a test flight of a new star-drive. Aason travels to the ice-cold world of Hades then on to the steamy planet of Ay’den, home to talking plants and living crystals. From there, he boards the largest starship in the galaxy and travels beyond our universe to a place that could only be called Heaven, trying to find his sister.
I will be releasing a second volume of my daily blog (Tales of the Vuduri) as a compilation entitled Tales of the Vuduri: Year Two in January of 2015.
Mid-year I will be releasing a compendium of short stories, deleted scenes, the original manuscripts for VIRUS 5 (the original name of Rome’s Revolution) and so on. This volume will be called The Vuduri Companion.
Finally, I will be recording my first sci-fi novel Rome’s Revolution as an audio book. I hope to release it next summer as well.
What genre do you enjoy writing the most and why?
I only want to write hard science fiction. However, oddly, my first full-length novel entitled Future Past is a romantic novel (as opposed to a romance novel) that takes place right around now. No science fiction element at all.
To me, science fiction is the purest way to examine the human condition because it lets you strip away the distractions of the world we know and put people on a fresh, new stage. It allows us to isolate what makes us human and predict how we’d react to new and previously unthinkable realms.
From where do you draw your inspiration?
This is going to sound bizarre but my claim is these stories are true, they just haven’t happened yet. As such, the stories more or less write themselves. Other than the original idea of star-crossed lovers finding each other across a gulf of 28 light years and 14 centuries, I just followed their adventures like a reader. So the answer is the stories are the stories and I cannot explain my inspiration. I just love science fiction. You build a world, put people in it and things happen all by themselves.
Do you ever base your characters on real people in your life?
Sure but mostly for peripheral characters. My main characters are their own people although I do throw in my experiences when relevant. However it is harder to come up with believable secondary characters so I do find myself using real life people as inspiration. For example, I based the personality of one of my most popular characters, MINIMCOM, an auto-pilot computer that became a starship, upon my brother Bruce. I know it sounds strange but it’s true. My two newest characters, Aason and Lupe Bierak, are very loosely based upon my two children. Mostly physical characteristics, not so much personality.
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
I have a day job which keeps me pretty busy. I am not a sports fan but I love my Phillies and Eagles and spend far too much time watching them and obsessing about them.
How did you come up with the title of your book?
Analogous to how I write my books, the titles just seem to create themselves. My original novel, VIRUS 5, evolved from a story about nanobots to a love story between a man named Rei and a woman named Rome. Rome comes of age in the book and changes her society so fundamentally I had to name the book Rome’s Revolution. A lot of people ask me if it is about the Roman Empire and that’s when I have to tell them it is science fiction about the 35th century. I cannot say I’ve ever had trouble coming up with a title.
Rome’s Revolution was originally a trilogy but after spending many years trying to find an agent, I finally gave up and compressed the three books into a single 167,000 word novel. I sat back and figured I was done. But then there were some loose ends that were nagging at me and one day I had an epiphany that became The Ark Lords. I had planned on writing a novella called Rome’s Evolution but right in the middle, I realized I had stumbled across a much deeper plot that turned what was going to be a short piece into an 84,000 word novel. So now I just tell people the whole series is a trilogy.
What celebrity would you chose to play the main character(s) in the movie rendition of your book?
So far the only celebrity that I have picked out is the British model Kelly Brook to play my heroine Rome’s mother whose name is Binoda. Odd character to cast, huh?
Have you joined any writer’s groups?
No. But I did join the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society (PSFS) to mingle with fans of the genre. I’m in my second year and while some of the meetings are a little slow, many are fascinating. This group puts on the fan convention Philcon and I got myself a vendor’s booth to sell books. It was an interesting experience.
Have you won any awards for your writing?
Not yet. Maybe some day.
What is the hardest part of the writing process for you?
Remembering that people have to wear clothes. No, not like that. I’m so anxious to get on with the action and adventure that I forget to describe what people are wearing, what they are seeing and so forth. At one point, my brother Bruce told me that everyone in the future must be running around bare foot because I never once described anyone’s shoes. I have worked very hard to improve the descriptions of the surroundings, sounds, shapes, smells and so on so that people can form a better picture in their mind.
What is the easiest part of the writing process for you?
Dialog. I hear the characters talking and just transcribe. Sometimes my characters are so blabby that I have to tell them to pipe down because I need to move the story along. I have been told that other authors experience this but when I describe the phenomenon to non-writers, they look at me like I am crazy.
That’s a good question. How do you pick one of your children as your favorite? As mentioned above, almost everybody loves MINIMCOM, the starship. He has a very dry sense of humor but you can always count on him to be there for you when you really need him. My main male character Rei, a man from our century, has a lot of me in him. He is easy-going, has a good sense of humor and can think his way out of jams. But I guess my favorite character is my heroine, Rome. She is literally reborn before our eyes and spends the next three (or is it five?) books growing emotionally and intellectually. As a man, trying to write a woman’s part realistically is very challenging. Rome has always come through for me and guided me through the process.
What is your preferred writing environment?
Complete silence and no pictures on the walls. Just my keyboard and monitor. The books are written in my mind and I don’t like anything that takes away my attention. Writing on a computer is very useful if you had to do a quick check of the facts but other than that, my writing area is very spartan. No stuffed animals, no windows, nothing.
How would you describe your writing style?
I like to write around a 10th grade level but I’m not a big fan of using florid language. I like action and adventure. This comes from a reviewer: Michael Brachman has developed quite a lot as an author since the first two books. He now writes more fluently than before. His prose is accessible and easy to read (this kind of prose suits the story arc of this series well, because there are plenty of action and adventure elements in these books). In the first books his prose felt a bit awkward and unfinished, but now he writes much better and more fluent prose. It was nice to see that he has developed so much, because he has brilliant ideas and he isn't afraid of writing about them. I especially enjoy the way he writes about science and scientific inventions.
Do you have a careful plan when plotting your stories or do you just go with the flow?
It isn’t quite that simple. I do have a semi-detailed outline of how the story is to proceed and I do have certain scenes and plot points I need to make. I know how long the story needs to be. But the filler and the conversations between characters just arises out of the story without having to do much work. The characters provide the dialog which I think is the strong point of my novels.
With many publishing routes available today, which felt the most reliable to you when it came to the many choices?
The only route that has produced for me is self-publishing. I am a computer programmer by day so producing the electronic versions is well within my comfort zone. I use CreateSpace to print paperbacks and publish on Amazon, B&N, iTunes, Kobo and Smashwords pretty much all at the same time. My brother Bruce is incredibly talented and he creates my amazing covers. He even creates separate covers for the paperbacks and ebook versions because of their differing requirements.