W. H. Mitchell

‘Explore the stories of W. H. Mitchell’s dark, dry humor.’

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In the beginning…tell me what made you decide to start writing?

I drew a lot as a kid, even making long picture stories with plots and different characters. Once I started writing, I began doing that a lot more than drawing, and things just grew from there.

Are there any authors or artists who influence(d) you?

I read fantasy when I was younger, including the works of Lloyd Alexander (The Black Cauldron). Although I watched a lot of sci-fi (Star Wars and Star Trek), I didn’t really read much of it until I was much older (Douglas Adams among others). Shakespeare, especially his use of tragedy and comedy, was also a big influence on me.

Tell me about your book / series.

The Imperium is in turmoil! Seven centuries after the sleeper ships brought us to Andromeda, our human empire is plagued by war, intrigue, and a mysterious secret that may tear it apart!

The Imperium Chronicles follows the citizens (human, alien, and robots) that live in the Imperium. From the highest nobles of the aristocracy to the lowest dredges of the Underclass, we learn the stories of their lives.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

I’m currently working on a novel called the Robots of Andromeda, the third book in the Imperium Chronicles series. I self-publish so I really don’t work on anything that I don’t intend to publish myself.

What’s your opinion on the practice of ‘banning’ books?

I think you’d be hard pressed to find many writers who are in favor of banning books. I’m a very strong believer in freedom of speech, regardless of whether people like what’s being said. I remember getting a little too zealous with a fellow high school student who had issues with all the sex in A Brave New World. I guess the idea of stopping people from reading or even having access to stories is something that triggers me on an emotional and intellectual level.

Tell me about a principal character in your book(s). What makes them memorable?

I have many characters, probably more than I should if my reviewers are right. One of my favorites is Magnus Black, an assassin who appears in my first two books. He’s kind of the personification of Death; outside of our definitions of good or evil. He’s very much how I view the universe in an existential nihilist sort of way. 

Indie, or traditionally published – and why?

I’m 100% indie. I didn’t want to wait for an agent and then a publisher to deem my works acceptable or not. This allows me to tell the stories the way I want. On the other hand, indie authors are viewed differently than traditionally published writers so getting recognition is an even greater, uphill battle. 

It’s said that to write well, you need to read a lot. What do you think?

Well, I could tell stories before I could read, so there’s some innate narrative skills that we are born with. However, I think reading is a great way to learn the craft. My only issue would be if you started imitating someone else’s writing. It’s important to have your own voice, even if that means writing more and reading less.

Tell me what you feel the worst, and the best, aspects of being an author are, and why.

For me, the act of imagining and having a finished product brings me the most happiness. The process of writing itself, however, is like torture much of the time. I often have terrible trouble writing, partly due to my dyslexia and attention deficit, but sitting on the toilet and having the solution for a plot pop into my head is a lot of fun.

Are you a plotter, or a pantser? What do you think of the opposite approach?

I’m both. I have a very loose plot structure in mind without necessarily knowing how it’s going to end. While I’m writing scenes, ideas present themselves naturally, and I try to use those in the rest of the writing.  I call it emergent writing/narrative because it comes into existence without planning it.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

Yes, I’ve hidden references to things, especially from my favorite show Futurama. Sometimes I just put it in for my own amusement, knowing that no one else will notice or even give a damn if they did.

Tell me about one favourite hobby or pastime that isn’t writing or reading.

I play video games, either strategy or first-person shooters. I used to play MMORPGs but I’ve been playing mostly solo games the last few years.

What are you writing at the moment?

I’m working on the third book of the on-going Imperium Chronicles series. It’s been much more difficult than the first two novels, partly because I didn’t have existing short stories or ideas to draw on. Most of what you’ll see in the book is brand new.

What’s your opinion on the belief that indie books are badly edited and lower quality than traditionally published?

Well, editors and especially good editors cost money. Most indie authors, myself included, lack the money to pay the prices necessary for the really best editors out there. With that in mind, it’s entirely possible an indie book is going to have more errors than one published by a large publishing house (who can afford the editors they have on staff). My question would be: is bad punctuation or typos more important than the narrative? It’s really up to the reader to decide.

What is your favourite genre to write, and why?

I write mostly science fiction, although I purposely include fantasy tropes into what I write. I have space elves and space dwarves / orcs, and I have starships called the Gorgon and the Sorcerer. I even have an evil mega-corporation called Warlock Industries.  I’m attracted to sci-fi, but I read tons of fantasy when I was younger. I guess I just enjoy mixing them up.

If you could, would you live in the world you’ve created? Why / why not?

Absolutely. I love fictional robots and to live in a world where I could interact with them daily would bring me great joy (compared to interacting with humans that is).

If you could go back to the start of your writing career, what is the one piece of advice you’d give yourself?

I probably would have suggested writing books sooner. It takes a long time to build up an audience and, at my age, I might be dead by the time I reach that goal.

Do you listen to music when you write, and if so, what do you like?

I listen to music to help drown out other sounds. However, I can only listen to music without words because that distracts me too. I ended up listening to Bebop Jazz because of the energy and lack of singing.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

I lived half my life thinking I couldn’t write a novel and now I’ve written two in only a couple of years. No one is more surprised by that than me!

Tell me three unique things about you.

I have a dark sense of humor/worldview, but I also love cute things like Hello Kitty!

When I started college, I was a Physics major before switching to English.

In the 90s, I co-founded a poetry magazine called The Wolf Head Quarterly (now defunct).

W. H., thank you for participating in Galaxy of Authors!