Saturday, January 12, 2019

Interview with Maggie Daniels and Matt Michael

The DMS was lucky enough to interview Maggie Daniels and Matt Michael. Lizzy recently reviewed STRYXA: The Odds Are Against Us and it was great to share our thoughts about it and hear yours. We are excited to learn a little bit more about the story behind their story. So, without further ado... take it away, Maggie and Matt!
Read our review of the book

* Notice to our readers! We're working on crafting the next case in the DMS files, Fairday Morrow and the Master's Emporium— starting in 2019 we'll be posting riddles and reviews twice a month. Tune in 1/21 for Fairday's riddle and a new book review. See you all around the book block. ~ Jess & Stephanie

What inspired you to write STRXIA

MATT: The short answer is a long car drive was the inspiration for our book. The longer answer is when Maggie was in her 40s, she made a life goal to write and publish a fiction novel by the age of 50.  


MAGGIE: I write for a living, but it has always been with an academic focus related to my collaborative projects conducted as a research faculty member at George Mason University. Reading is a significant part of my leisure, and I have always been fascinated by the potential for crossover between academic and fiction writing.





MATT: I wrote science fiction and fantasy as a young adult but was never published. In the years that followed, I accumulated 25 years of experience as a professional engineer in the aerospace industry. During a 6-hour car drive from Ohio to Virginia, we had a brainstorming session with our son, who was 8 at the time and became an integral part of the writing process. 


We realized we had the key facets to writing a STEM-based book. Maggie brought decades of professional writing to the table. I brought the knowledge of physics and sports. We had worked together to coach and manage a myriad of youth sports teams. The concept of a science fiction world using baseball to situate the story on Earth with parallel actions in Strxia soon followed.

How long did it take you to write STRXIA?  

MAGGIE: The writing, editing, and publishing process took us three years. Matt got the ball rolling with the backstory development for our four main characters (Seth, Jared, Alex, and Chase). I then brought them into the larger story, weaving them in and out of Strxia. It was important to us that each character was distinct and easy to relate to so that our young readers could readily identify with the unique personalities.     

MATT: I took the lead in presenting the ideas for the parallel game in the second part of the book. Maggie expertly (I was amazed at how well she did this) stitched this material into a fast-paced story designed to keep our readers turning the pages. Maggie then agonized over the complete draft by editing and rewriting for a year based on feedback we received from many generous reviewers and readers.

As co-authors what is your collaboration and writing process like? 

MAGGIE: The collaboration worked really well. I relied on Matt to get the math and physics correct and he trusted my fanatic attention to detail that ensured the product was cohesive and readable. Our son was instrumental to the humor in the book. He and his friends offered a wealth of material based on their daily interactions on and off the field. As our primary reader, he was the first to tell us if something was or was not funny!

MATT: While there were certainly some stressful moments along the way, the process of working with Maggie on this project has been extremely positive. Setting and reaching this goal definitely brought us closer together as a married couple.

Tell us about your writing environment. Do you listen to music? Write in a special place? Are there writing tools you need nearby?  

MATT: For me, I mostly write late at night after both Maggie and our son are asleep. I write in silence, sitting in a recliner with a laptop and our Italian Greyhound (Photon) curled up under my left arm.  

MAGGIE: My style is quite different. I write best in the mornings, with a large cup of coffee while at a desk in my home office. On days when I’m in for the long haul, I take sanity breaks by swimming or taking a run with Photon. Having said that, I primarily stick to what I think of as the “Roald Dahl” method.  I recall reading once that he would only write for a few hours a day during his most creative time zones.  I operate similarly, as I think most clearly in the morning. I can put in a longer writing day only if it involves more routine matters, such as copy editing, after 12:00 noon.

What are some of your favorite books from childhood? Were there any specific authors who inspired you?  

MATT: The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis was a standout for me. My interest in fantasy stemmed from his work.


MAGGIE: As a child, I read anything I could get my hands on and absolutely loved going to the library. I am the youngest of five, so I also read whatever my siblings were reading and was therefore introduced to dystopian fiction at a young age, which is still of interest to me. Perhaps most influential to me, however, was the daily newspaper. I have always been a huge fan of humor columnists, with favorites being Erma Bombeck and Art Buchwald. I simply adored their ability to pinpoint the absurdities in daily life, and I’d like to think that we accomplish a tiny bit of that in Strxia. 

If you could travel into the future or to a parallel world- where/when would you pick? Why?

MATT: Since I am involved in the aerospace industry, I’d like to travel 200 years forward to see what we have accomplished in terms of space travel.


MAGGIE: My parallel world is one where exceptional educational opportunities are ubiquitous. 

If you could befriend a character from your book, who would you befriend? Why?  


MATT: In my many years of coaching, I have been amazed at how incredibly different every single child is. Their personalities, drives, and athletic talents are all incredibly unique. Many of my players have been projects where I vowed to “fix” their baseball swing or bad attitude after striking out. As a coach, I would attempt to befriend Jared. I am convinced I could “fix” his ego and attitude and turn him into a great player.  

MAGGIE: What a hard question! I want to befriend all of them! I identify best with Alex and her desire to feel that she is making a contribution to the goals on Earth and in Strxia. However, in terms of personality, my favorite is Chase because his silliness reminds me of my son and his friends.

Is there anything you’ve learned along your path to publication that you would like to share with new writers?  

MATT: I think most new writers greatly underestimate the book promotion endeavor that occurs after publishing. The process of gaining customer reviews, editorial reviews, and verified customer reviews, and then promoting the book through various services, sites, and social media turns out to be an almost overwhelming task. I would estimate my promotion labor to currently be around (100) hours. I estimate it will end near (150) hours before we begin writing the second book in the series in earnest.

MAGGIE: Like anything else worthwhile, you have to be internally motivated. Matt and I are lucky that we have day jobs we love, so writing fiction can be an entertaining hobby. While some writers are superstars from the onset, most realize that you write simply because you love to write and you have ideas you would like to share. If fame and fortune follow, well that is nice, but at the end of the day you have to look in the mirror and simply be proud of what you have written and hope that somehow you can impact someone’s life in a positive way.

How do you pronounce, “Strxia”?  

MAGGIE: The name of the book is a fun story, because we went through many iterations before we created one we really liked. Try saying “Strick-see-ah” – that will get you really close!

Where can we purchase your book?  

MATT:  Our website, https://www.strxia.com/ has lots of great information about our book.

To find out where to buy the book any place in the world, check out the page https://www.strxia.com/WhereToBuy.htm .

We are currently running a free Amazon Kindle ebook promotion on our website promotion page https://www.strxia.com/Promotions.htm .

One of the great things about our book title is that it is unique to our project. You can search the word, “Strxia” on any book selling site like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books, Google Play, etc., and our book will immediately come to the top of the search.

About the Authors
Maggie Daniels is a professor for George Mason University within the College of Education and Human Development. Maggie has conducted extensive applied research in Washington, D.C. and has a combination of over 100 publications and presentations to her credit. Maggie's hobbies include swimming, mountain biking, and reading.  

Matt Michel is a Professional Engineer in the aerospace industry. He was responsible for the Thrust Vector Control system on the Antares Launch Vehicle used to resupply the International Space Station and is currently designing the first attempt at geosynchronous rendezvous and capture of satellites located 25,000 miles from Earth. Matt enjoys writing projects with his wife, mountain biking, and coaching youth sport teams.

*Maggie and Matt are generously giving away three paperback copies of Strxia: The Odds Are Against Us All you have to do is comment on our review or this interview to be entered for a chance to win. Winners will be randomly selected. Good luck!

35 comments:

  1. Great to read about this enterprising pair, and how they set about writing as a team. Thanks for sharing. Hugs, Valerie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We thought it was interesting too, Valerie! :)

      Delete
  2. Traveling 200 years to see what we've accomplished would be good, as long as one could get back. Sounds like you have a great collaborative approach indeed.

    ReplyDelete
  3. What a fascinating interview (and earlier review). I have always wondered how collaboration works (and learned from bloggers who write just how important promoting the book has become).
    Big thanks to the three of you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. EC- Glad you enjoyed the interview and review. Book promotion is definitely a lot of work. :)

      Delete
  4. Thank you, Jess and Stephanie, for posting the interview. Reading it on your blog allows me to really think back over the years as a whole for the first time. It makes me realize what a positive experience it all has been for Maggie and me.

    Here is a little-known tidbit of Strxian trivia. Tixe's frog, the one with the magic ink, is named Photon after the Italian Greyhound mentioned in the interview. This was our nod to the real Photon, canine snuggle master, that kept me company while writing for all that time after Maggie and Josh went to bed.

    - Matt Michel, Author of STRXIA: THE ODDS ARE AGAINST US

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Matt- What a fascinating fact about, Tixe's frog. We love the name Photon for a frog or a dog. :) We really enjoyed doing the interview with you. Thanks for stopping by and adding some extra special information for our readers.
      ~Stephanie and Jess

      Delete
  5. Enjoyed the interview. They certainly made good use of that 6 hour car ride to creatively come up with the idea for the book!

    betty

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Betty- So happy you enjoyed the interview. What a great car ride they must have had coming up with ideas. :)

      Delete
  6. Are you kidding? SciFi baseball???!!! I think I've been waiting for this book my whole life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Armchair Squid- An interesting and fun combination. Three copies are being given away- so maybe your lucky number will come up. :)

      Delete
  7. I think it's so cool that this husband-wife team created this book together with input from their son. Quite apart from book success (and I think this will be very successful), this family creation will be the source of so many happy memories in the future.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Elizabeth- Well said! We couldn't agree more. What a special family creation. It will be special forever. :)

      Delete
  8. An interesting read and interview …
    Many thanks for sharing this.

    All the best Jan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are welcome, Jan. Glad you enjoyed it. :)

      Delete
  9. I love hearing about fellow scientist authors! Though I don't think I'd be able to write a book with my partner--that's quite amazing to me :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Meradeth- We thought you might like this interview! Scientist authors are awesome. :)

      Delete
  10. Great questions and answers. I'm always intrigued by the dynamics of writing partners and especially of husband/wife teams - I think my and Mr T writing together would end in divorce and possibly even death. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tracy- We loved hearing about how other people collaborate. You made us laugh with your predictions about a collaboration between you and Mr. T. :)

      Delete
  11. An excellent interview! Thank you!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Magic Love Crow- So happy you enjoyed it. :)

      Delete
  12. Fascinating interview. Wishing you much success with this wonderful book.

    ReplyDelete
  13. What an interesting interview. It's great that you can work together on your novel. It must be fun to exchange ideas for the story. Congratulations on what sounds like a wonderful story.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Beverly- We loved Maggie and Matt's answers and we're glad you did too. :)

      Delete
  14. Great interview! I am always curious to know about how authors cowrite together and also what it is they each bring to the table. I love how one person knew a lot about writing and the other about sports. And it seems like the cowriting went well for them but wow, three years is a long time!

    Also, I hope the writing for you both for your next novel is going well too ^.^

    My recent post: https://oliviascatastrophe.com/2019/01/4-mini-reviews-shakespeare-edition/

    ReplyDelete
  15. Olivia- Thanks for the good wishes for our writing. :)

    Even though we write together- we always love hearing how other people collaborate. Matt and Maggie have an interesting process and it's fun that they each bring different things to the writing table.

    The process can definitely take a lot longer than most people think. :)
    ~Stephanie and Jess

    ReplyDelete
  16. Fascinating! Sounds like a great story - and a great collaboration!
    Erma Bombeck was one of my first 'adult' authors. My mom had the books and I kept sneaking them - so much fun!!
    Good luck with the writing Jess & Steph!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jemi- Glad you enjoyed the interview. It is funny to think back on the books of our parents that we first started reading. Sounds like the interview brought back fun memories for you. :)

      Delete
  17. Great interview, and I'm super happy that there will be another Fairday mystery!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So glad you enjoyed the interview.

      Aww- Thanks, Fleur. :) We are glad to hear you are excited for another Fairday mystery. ~Stephanie and Jess

      Delete
  18. Yay for great interview :D These authors seems awesome. Thank you for sharing. <3 And eee, I love that you guys are working on another Fairday book :D That is amazing. <3

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for stopping by and commenting. We love to hear your thoughts! Fairday's Blog is no longer accepting awards. We appreciate all the nominations that we have received and are honored to have been mentioned! Happy Reading!

Twitter Bird Gadget Twitter Bird Gadget