Myke Cole Interview – Author of Shadow Ops – Control Point 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 that. 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 possible? 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 resume. 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, someday. 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 writer. 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.

One thought on “Myke Cole Interview – Author of Shadow Ops – Control Point

  1. One of my favorite authors, I really find it interesting how he adjusts the military culture to a suddenly active modern magic setting.

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