My name is Michael John Finley and I was born in British Guyana. I currently live in Brazil working as a teacher of English and a translator. I divide my time between classes, translations projects, and my passion, writing.
I’m what you may call a late bloomer, as I only started writing a few years ago. My parents were avid readers and the house was always full of books, so it just seemed natural that I would take a liking to reading. I have read most of the classics like Jules Verne, Victor Hugo, Agatha Christie, Herman Melville, among others, and despite their wonderful stories, I always wondered what could have happened if the hero failed to complete his mission or a character had different traits than those presented by the author.
I hold a bachelor’s degree in business and an MBA in international trade, and for most of my live I was a logistics manager. Thus, writing could not be farthest from my mind. I always admired those who write, but never thought of it as something for me. Life however has a curious habit of shifting things around and one day I decided to put a few short stories to paper and discovered the wonders of writing. What started as an experiment in writing soon became something much more serious as I kept at it. Even so, until that point, I had never considered printing any of my stories. They just seemed frail, lacking something that could make them stand on their own.
The reason for this, I found out later, was that the stories were actually small parts of something bigger, so one day my daughter suggested that all the stories would make more sense if I gave the characters a common goal, like a quest, and that brought everything into perspective. That was the genesis of my first and only book thus far, Tales of Valoris – The Rune Seekers. What began as a single book soon evolved into a five book saga, most of which is still in my mind, but I’m working on getting it out.
When and why did you start writing?
I started writing in 2007. Being a huge fan of RPG games, one day I asked a friend what he thought it would be like to be our characters. We began to trade small stories about what we would do and how we would face certain challenges in the game. From those discussions, I began to write small stories, which eventually turned into a novel, and since then, I never stopped writing.
What inspires your writing?
Life. I find it amazing and how much we forget to be grateful for it. I find people the most curious animal on the planet and the stories I hear are just too good to ignore, so I spend a lot of my time converting those stories into my next book.
How would you define creativity?
Wouldn’t you rather know how many starts are in the universe, or the location of Atlantis? Those are far easier questions than this one. Anyway, in my humble opinion, creativity is one’s ability to see beyond the mundane, and come up with new ways of doing the same thing, just like saying the same thing in a different and more creative way.
Do you have any writing rituals to get you in the mood for writing?
I’m always in the mood for writing, as my mind is constantly evaluating scenarios and possibilities of every day events.
If you could, what would you go back and tell yourself as a writer starting out?
Inspiration isn’t everything. Writing is hard work and it requires dedication. Oh, and also, use outlining.
What do you believe make for great writing?
What really captivates me in a book is the storytelling and character development. Once I find both these elements in a book, I know I’m in for an unforgettable journey, one that I won’t forget anytime soon.
Which writers have influenced your writing?
Let’s see, Agatha Christie, Jules Verne, Dan Brown, Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Victor Hugo, only to list a few. I find these authors bring all the elements I appreciate in a good read. Most of their stories are mesmerising and it is almost impossible to put them down.
How do you measure success as a writer?
By the amount of readers he or she has. The authors I mentioned earlier have thousands, if not millions of readers, and that, in my opinion is worth much more than all the money they ever made in sales. I believe that money is only a consequence of a good readers’ base.
Have you ever hated something you wrote?
Every first draft I ever produced. You see, my characters don’t usually agree with my ideas, so they have a tendency to push the story in a different direction than I initially planned. The curious part is that they are usually right.
What’s your biggest fear as a writer?
Not being read. I think that every reader would like to have his or her work commented, regardless of praise or criticism.
What traits do you feel make a great writer?
I don’t think there is such a thing as a great writer. I believe there are readers. I have read some awful books, and yet I know people who find those same books worthy of the Nobel Prize. What I’m trying to say is that as long as your work is enjoyed, you will be the greatest writer for your readers, thus, there are no traits, only readers.
Describe your latest book to our readers.
For over two decades, Greemir, the god of creation has raged war on the kingdoms of Valoris in search of the twelve renaissance runes, which can consolidate his power, or destroy him. Many have sought the runes and failed, some even consider them a myth, including Mikaelis, a diplomat mage who suddenly finds himself entrusted by the goddess of death to find the runes and restore balance to Valoris. Accompanied by six warriors of different classes ranging from an assassin to a priestess, he must follow the writings of an ancient book to locate the runes, unaware that a second book exists and that Greemir has it. Throughout his journey over a land of contrasting sights and ancient mysteries, Mikaelis will need all his diplomatic skills and help he can muster to overcome the challenges presented along the way while he desperately tries to find a way to reconnect to his daughter after fourteen years of separation. Every new rune found only increases Greemir’s wrath and his effort to beat Mikaelis to the next location.
What would you like readers to take away from your writing?
I never consciously incorporate any kind of message in my books. To me, my books show how people can surprise you, either for bad or good, now if any of my readers can find a message or moral in my story, I’m more than glad to be of service.
Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
Throughout my short carrier, here is what I have learned:
Persevere, always. There is no shortage of people who don’t understand your work or are just itching to criticise you, so believe in yourself and plough though.
Study: Some of us are talented in many ways, even with words, however, I have learned that talent alone is not enough. Read about the craft (On Writing – Stephen King is an excellent starting point), join other authors and learn from them, the more you understand your craft, the better you will be at it.
False Gurus: Be wary of these, especially those who tell you that you should write for a certain audience, or have a certain group in mind when you write. I’m my experience, trying to do that is the equivalent of guessing the lottery numbers. Write what you want and because you enjoy it. I believe there is no such thing as a bad book, only books without readers. I have read praised books which in my opinion, were rather lacking at best, and disregarded books that turned out to be fantastic. Therefore, how can you choose an audience, just write and have fun.
Can you give our audience a writing prompt to help get them writing?
In the future, prisons are a thing of the past. Convicts are implemented with a monitoring chip that warns the authorities if they engage in criminal activities. The chip can also paralyse the criminal if he is caught red handed. Despite the huge success of the chips, the company that manufactures them is actually losing money, and to make matters worse, there have been several reports of convicts dying under suspicious conditions that seem to indicate the chip is flawed. Tired of the company setbacks, the recently hired Commercial VP starts his own investigation and finds out a plot to take over the company that goes all the way to the top.
What’s next for you?
Finish writing the second volume of Tales of Valoris (no subtitle yet). I’m still writing the first draft, but I hope to have the book ready for the market before July 2017.
For over two decades, Greemir, the god of creation has raged war on the kingdoms of Valoris in search of the twelve renaissance runes, which can consolidate his power, or destroy him.
Many have sought the runes and failed, some even consider them a myth, including Mikaelis, a diplomat mage who suddenly finds himself entrusted by the goddess of death to find the runes and restore balance to Valoris.
Accompanied by six warriors of different classes ranging from an assassin to a priestess, he must follow the writings of an ancient book to locate the runes, unaware that a second book exists and that Greemir has it.
Throughout his journey over a land of contrasting sights and ancient mysteries, Mikaelis will need all his diplomatic skills and help he can muster to overcome the challenges presented along the way while he desperately tries to find a way to reconnect to his daughter after fourteen years of separation. Every new rune found only increases Greemir’s wrath and his effort to beat Mikaelis to the next location.