Thank you for sharing. So, why is your seventh book literary fiction instead of science fiction?
I wanted to see if I could write a literary novel in the first person, present tense. As the book reached novella length, I realized that the story was being told at novella length (17,500 to 39,999 words is the publishing industry's accepted range for a novella). Stretching it out to novel length would have done the story an injustice. As a novel, it would have been laborious and redundant for the reader. But, as a 31,000-word novella, it's a comfortable read.
Why did you use a pen name for this novella?
Because Michael Casher is "branded" as a science fiction novelist. Jonco Bugos, my alter ego, is not.
Will there be other literary novellas written by Jonco Bugos?
No doubt about it. When I'm not using the keyboard, Jonco will be keeping it warm for me.
Does that mean that Michael Casher will keep penning science fiction thrillers?
That's the plan. Some people live to eat, drink and shop. I live to write.
Your official website is "Science Fiction for Thinkers.com", which you simply call "Science Fiction for Thinkers". But that wasn't the original name, was it?
Nope. In 2004 my official website was called "michaelcasher.com" with the tagline "Science Fiction for Thinkers". Back then my "official website" was a free Yahoo personal page. I got my first domain (michaelcasher.com) from Yahoo. I had to start somewhere and I knew nothing about building a web page. That tagline matched my Lulu storefront in 2004, which I'd named "Science Fiction for Thinkers". In 2005 I moved michaelcasher.com to Freewebs.com, which is now Webs.com.
In April 2007 I changed the name of my official website to "Science Fiction for Thinkers" at the Internet address of "sciencefictionforthinkers.com". My tagline became "Your world may never look the same." The dot com is the web address, the name of the site is Science Fiction for Thinkers. Just like when you're at Sears.com. You're shopping at Sears.com but you're buying from Sears.
At the end of 2009 I moved the tag line to another spot on my Home Page and replaced it with a website description that reads, "The official website of science fiction author Michael Casher..." I also updated the name of my Lulu storefront in 2009 to "Science Fiction for Thinkers...at Lulu" (and then again to "Science Fiction for Thinkers at Lulu" in 2010), to keep them separate in the search engines as different websites altogether. In August 2011 Lulu.com scrapped my storefront and saddled me with a generic-looking "Author Spotlight" page. Here's how I felt about that raw deal. My official signature has always been "Fiction is real life without its mask."
It's all a matter of semantics. I am Michael Casher. As an author, my books have always been a collection that I called Science Fiction for Thinkers. My first Internet domain was michaelcasher.com, which was about me and my books. Now my official Internet domain is sciencefictionforthinkers.com, which is all about me and my books.
In April 2011, I changed the forwarding of michaelcasher.com so it directs people to Michael Casher on about.me, my page at about.me. This simple, one-page presence is a place for me to have "name recognition" and a professional-looking custom profile from which to direct people who are curious about Michael Casher, the science fiction author. Hell, I'm paying for two domains so, therefore, I want them to take people to two places, not just one.
Science Fiction for Thinkers = sciencefictionforthinkers.com = michaelcasher.com = Michael Casher. We're inseparable. It's not duplicity. It's all about "branding". I branded myself with an official worldwide presence. The steps and the time it took me to achieve that brand I chalked up to experience and personal evolution. Just like a shark, a writer must constantly move forward or die.
I see. So, do you write anything besides novels?
I was once an avid blogger who wrote ten blogs, in all, (under several different names) and I used to write an online monthly newsletter, mostly for the therapeutic effect it had on me. I stopped writing The Pluto Observer in October 2010 (after five years of hammering out free online monthly issues) because no one read it.
My first blog was "Thinker's Corner", which I started writing in May 2005. I figured blogging would be a better outlet for disappointment, frustration and bewilderment than running naked through the back yard and screaming, "Why me? Why me?"
I also believed back then that my blogs would eventually generate some interest in my books. But that doesn't seem to be the case. So, I'm not really an enthusiastic a blogger anymore. In fact, as of June 2012 I stopped blogging altogether. Due to a lack of reader interest I closed my ten blogs for public comments on July 31, 2012. I still maintain these blogs as historical documents and change the sidebar and footer elements, from time to time.
The only way I would go back to blogging is if people who had read my fiction asked me to. But I stand a better chance of winning the Powerball Jackpot than finding a following at this stage in the game. Too bad. I thought my writing would make a positive difference in the world. It sure needs one.
I sure learned a hard lesson when my fingers tapped out the first sentence of fiction back in 1998. Writing is a "learn-as-you-go" experience, just like real life. And, when the world says no to you, you wind up writing for yourself. It's better than not writing at all.
Why did you join "Amazon Connect" in February 2009 as an author?
I figured Amazon would be selling more of my books than anybody else so I wanted to have the best exposure there that I could have. I also wanted to be available to readers, potential readers and Amazon.com customers who might want to know more about me and my books. But Amazon scrapped "Amazon Connect" in May 2009 and began a new program called "Author Central".
Did you join Author Central?
didn't want to, at first, because I knew I'd have to re-establish my
presence at Amazon.com all over again. And that reminded me of what
General George Patton said about retreating, which is how I feel about
jumping through another hoop just to wind up in the same spot. He said, "I don't like paying for the same real estate twice." For General Patton, American lives were at stake. But, for me, it's just another hoop in the author-and-pony show that everyone seems to love so much, so I figured what the hell.
So, if you didn't pen your first novel until you were 50 years old, what were you doing before that?
Research. Some people would just call it "living" but I've never really just lived my life. I gathered data as I went.
Do believe in God?
No, but I believe in stupid people who ask way too many personal questions.
May I quote you on that?
Quote this. (I give this annoying interviewer the finger).
Let me rephrase my question. Do you think there is a God?
Let me quote Jack Kerouac on that. When he was once asked that question, he said, "I don't know. I don't care. And it doesn't make any difference."
I can't believe you'd just prefer to quote someone else on such an important issue as that.
OK, then. You can quote me on this. "Do I think there's a God? How in the hell should I know? But, holy hell, I certainly hope not. Because, if there is a God, that son-of-a-bitch certainly has a lot of goddamn explaining to do."