This month’s Author Spotlight features M.A Robbins.
Interview with M.A Robbins
1. Please tell us a little about yourself?
I’ve lived in Anchorage, Alaska with my family for the past 33 years. I came up with the Air Force, which I separated from in 1991. Since then, I’ve had many different creative and non-creative jobs, including computer programming, project management, IT management, training, magician, comedian, mentalist, and singer-songwriter.
2. When did you first start writing?
In my teens. It was my high school dream to be a writer. I hand-wrote some terrible stuff in spiral binders. I even submitted a short story to Twilight Zone magazine. It came back with a nice rejection form. I kept it as kind of a trophy for years.
When I found I had to make a living and pay bills, I joined the Air Force, and writing went into the back drawer. Every ten years or so, I’d resurrect it for a few months, but never took it seriously until a few years back.
3. Do you outline your novel before you start writing or do you prefer to just begin and see where your ideas take you?
I went without outlining when I started writing short stories, and it seemed to have worked well. I tried a couple of novels without outlining and never completed them, so I went with an outline on what was to be my first published novel, The Tilt. While the novel didn’t end up exactly the same as the initial outline, it gave me a framework to lean on. Treating the outline as a living document gave me the best of both worlds.
4. Do you set aside a specific time to write each day?
First thing in the morning works best for me, but I’ll squeeze in time at other times of the day if I can. My mind’s fresher in the morning, and I can concentrate on the story without other events from the day cluttering my thoughts.
5. Tell us a little about one of your novels?
The Tilt is my first published novel. It’s a post-apocalyptic western, set in Alaska. It’s action-oriented, and intense. The inspiration was Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven. The main character was an unrepentant killer who took one last job to provide for his two kids. I wondered what it would take to make a normal man so violent, and explored that theme in my main character, Jon Streg.
6. Who is your favourite character?
That’s like asking who’s your favorite child. I think in this book, it would have to be TBone Tosi. He presents such a noble and loyal personality, that he shines over all the other characters. Of course, this being post-apocalyptic Alaska, he still gets his hands bloody.
7. How long does it take you to write a novel?
This one took 2 years. I ran it through my critique group, and that always takes some time. I had it professionally edited by a developmental editor, and used her feedback as coaching, so I can incorporate her input into future novels as well. Then it went through a professional line editor, and finally, a group of beta readers.
It was time well spent that has allowed me to shorten the cycle for the next novel.
8. What can we look forward to next from you?
I’m about halfway through the first draft of the next novel in the Tilt series, titled The Confederacy. I plan to have it published in late 2016/early 2017.
About M.A Robbins
M.A. Robbins is the author of The Tilt post-apocalyptic series. Some of his horror short stories have appeared in national anthologies.
He’s had many careers: Computer Programmer, Business Owner, Military Veteran, Trainer, Public Speaker, Magician, Mentalist, Comedian, Singer/Songwriter, Husband, and Father. The one common thread through them all was Storytelling.
It was his dream many years ago in high school to become a professional writer. As John Lennon said, “Life is what happens when you’re making other plans.” He’s now come full circle back to his first creative pursuit, writing.
He lives in Anchorage, Alaska with his wife, Debbie.
M.A Robbins online
Amazon Author’s Page: http://www.amazon.com/M.A.-Robbins/e/B00T6ZP1FY/
The Tilt on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0199J4A3K
Excerpt from ‘The Tilt’
Morrow ordered a beer and lit his pipe. He thought about flagging down a waitress for a tobacco resupply, but forgot about it when Streg plodded down the stairs and took a seat. The son of a bitch judge never looked happy.
Streg threw back the whiskey that waited for him. “You’ll stay here tonight in the storeroom at the back of the kitchen. We’ll go see Luka first thing in the morning.”
Storeroom? Morrow frowned. “Red change your mind about going north?”
Streg’s eyes narrowed. “You’ll go. I’m staying.” The bartender refilled Streg’s glass. “The way I see it is either you catch them or they kill you. It’s a win for me either way.”
Morrow blew out a smoke ring. “Why not let me go now? You’re happy, I’m happy. I ain’t gonna tell no one.”
Streg took a sip of his whiskey and shook his head. “Got my orders. I won’t cross Luka, but I’ll be rid of you soon.”
Morrow scanned the room. The bar’s clientele had thinned out. “Where’s TBone?”
Streg stared at a table of bush rats betting on who could hold their hand over a flame the longest. “Upstairs. Keeping an eye on Red.”
“She don’t like me much.”
Streg’s voice remained monotone. “She wants to kill you.”
Morrow’s beer arrived. He ignored it. “Because I’m from the Confederacy?”
Streg nodded. “She lived in Juneau when Pritchard invaded. One of his officers claimed her.” His face hardened. “That’s what he called it, as if she were a prize. He took her along with him to Yakutat.”
Morrow reached for his beer. He’d attended the Pritchard trials and heard what some of those animals did to female prisoners. “I don’t blame her.” He took a gulp. It sat heavy in his stomach. “You think we don’t know what they did? You think we’re proud of it?”
Streg stood and waved the bartender over. “Is Elmer back?” The bartender nodded. “Get him. We’re closing down for the night.”
Morrow slapped the mug on the counter. The last damn person he should be apologizing to about Yakutat was the Butcher. “Are you proud of what you did in Yakutat?”
Streg drew his .40 caliber and pointed it at Morrow’s face before he could blink.
Morrow’s heart pounded as he stared back at Streg.
Streg yelled, “We’re closing early. Everyone out.” The patrons scattered to the exits. He kept the gun pointed at Morrow.
Elmer scampered in from the kitchen. “Dear Judge, how can I be of service?” He didn’t seem to notice the pistol in Streg’s hand.
“Morrow will be staying here tonight. Show him the storeroom and set him up a cot.”
Elmer smiled and wiped his hands on his apron. “Gladly, Judge.” He grabbed Morrow by the arm and walked him into the kitchen. “Come along, Mr. Morrow. It’ll be nice to have a neighbor for the evening. You see, I have a small room over there, under the stairs. Just knock on the wall if you need anything.”
As he allowed himself to be led away, Morrow glanced back to see Streg pour himself another whiskey. Yeah, I’m getting outta here tonight.