Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!
Hi there! My name is Mike Schlossberg; I’m an author, elected official and advocate for the mentally ill. My book is Redemption, a book science fiction/mental health/young adult book about depression, anxiety and saving the world. Here’s the blurb:
young people wake aboard the spaceship Redemption with no memory how
they got there.
Asher Maddox went to sleep a college dropout with clinical depression and anxiety. He wakes one hundred sixty years in the future to assume the role as captain aboard a spaceship he knows nothing about, with a crew as in the dark as he is.
Yanked from their everyday lives, the crew learns that Earth has been ravaged by the Spades virus – a deadly disease planted by aliens. They are tasked with obtaining the vaccine that will save humanity, while forced to hide from an unidentified, but highly advanced enemy.
Half a galaxy away from Earth, the crew sets out to complete the quest against impossible odds. As the enemy draws closer, they learn to run the ship despite their own flaws and rivalries. But they have another enemy . . . time. And it’s running out.
What is/are the story(ies) behind your book(s)?
It’s two fold, basically. A group of teenagers finds themselves onboard a spaceship and has to save the world. What makes this book different – and I think more relatable – is its focus on mental health. The main character, Ash, has depression and anxiety, and the book shows him struggling with those issues.
What inspires/inspired your creativity?
For this book, easy: Personal experience. I’ve suffered from depression and anxiety most of my life. My full time job is to serve as a State Representative in Pennsylvania, and a few years ago I made the decision to discuss these issues publicly as part of an effort to break the stigma which surrounds mental illness.
How do you deal with creative block?
I write, but physically. Pen and notebook. I find that this often gets the “creative juices” flowing.
What are the biggest mistakes you can make in a book?
Making things over complicated and not respecting the genre enough. I’d never written science fiction before, so when I went through editing of my first draft, my editor made some corrections about how to do a better job – corrections that I really appreciated!
Do you have tips on choosing titles and covers?
For titles, don’t overthink, and for covers, rely on the experts. It can be difficult to do on your own.
How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?
It’s hard, but thanks to being a politician, I think I’ve developed a somewhat thick skin. I think you have to look at any feedback from as objective a perspective as possible. You try to analyze it and ask yourself if it is fair and what you can do about it in the future if it is. Otherwise, you move on.
How has your creation process improved over time?
The biggest improvement is in my pre-writing and outlining. When I wrote Redemption I outlined things but I’d say not in enough depth; that’s not a mistake I’ve made again.
What were the best, worst and most surprising things you encountered during the entire process of completing your book(s)?
Best: How much better you can make your writing.
Worst: How much improvement all of us need to make when it comes to this craft.
Most surprising: Ha – see above!
Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers? Do you balance the two and how?
There’s a premise in this question that I don’t like; that the two are somehow mutually exclusive. They aren’t. You can achieve both goals by writing an amazing story.
What role do emotions play in creativity?
A ton, with a but: I often find that my best ideas come to me when I let them germinate for a few. It can be difficult to force yourself to be creative; instead, I find that thinking of things over time and letting ideas percolate on their own can be most effective.
Do you have any creativity tricks?
Yes: Don’t force it. Take a break and let the ideas come naturally.
What are your plans for future books?
Redemption is a trilogy; I have to finish the story before I do anything else and I am so excited to show the rest of it to the world.
Tell us some quirky facts about yourself.
I love video games. Loooooooove video games. Both of my kids (Auron & Ayla) had their names inspired by video games. Bonus points if you can figure out where their names came from!