Interview: Mike Lynch


Mike Lynch PhotoIt’s been said that writers must first be readers. Do you enjoy reading? I actually go against the grain on this one, in that I was not a reader growing up. I much preferred watching television and movies. It was only recently that I was bit by the writing bug and started playing catch-up.

  • What genres do you read most? I actually prefer to read non-fiction stories over fiction, which is kind of ironic since I write fiction.
  • When did you decide you wanted to write? I started writing years ago for my own enjoyment. I’d think of a story, and then write it. It has only been about the last 7-8 years have I been writing with the intention of getting my stories published.
  • How many books have you written, and how many of them have been published? I have five books published so far, one non-fiction and four fiction. Another one is scheduled to be released next year. My latest novel is currently being read by my publisher, so I’m hopeful about that one.
  • Can you tell us what you believe has had the greatest influence on your writing? In my case, working with co-author, Brandon Barr. We tend to go easy on ourselves as writers, believing everything we write is a masterpiece. Those sorts of feelings are quickly dashed when you send your work to another writer who is just as invested in the story as you are. He has been quick to point out the weaknesses in my writing, which has forced me to be much better than I would have on my own.
  • How do you prepare to write a book? Did you do any special research? Brandon and I basically go back and forth with ideas about the story and characters. Once we feel the story is where we want it to be, we then start trading off chapters until the book is finished. For the research part, that depends on the story. Some require more than others.
  • How long have you been writing? Seriously, about 7-8 years
  • What genre do you usually write? I’ve written a science fiction novel, historical fiction, fantasy, a political thriller, romance, and a non-fiction book, so I’m kind of all over the map.
  • Can you tell us a little about your latest book? It is an archeology adventure story entitled, After the Cross. The story is about archeologists who discover an ancient letter that makes the astonishing claim that the cross of Christ still exists, and has been safely hidden away at an unknown location. The chase is on who will get to it first.
  • How do you get an idea for a book? I saw a documentary about Helena, the mother of Constantine, who made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem around 327 A.D. It is claimed she found the cross of Christ, but it was lost many years later. It got me thinking about what it would be like for us if that happened in our time, and thus a story was born.
  • What one piece of advice would you give to a beginning writer? If they have aspirations to be a book writer, start with short stories first. I wish I would have done that. The skills you learn telling a complete story in 10-15 pages are ones every writer needs in my opinion. You learn to economize words, establish your characters, setting, and tone very quickly. Novelists in general, myself included, often overwrite description and dialogue when they are not limited by page numbers. It is quite easy to be self-indulgent, which usually diminishes the overall story. When it comes to writing, less is more.
  • Do you have any favorite inspirational quotes? Winston Churchill said, “Never, never, never, never give up.” That is probably the best advice any writer could get.
  • What is your writing schedule like? Do you write only when inspired? When I am working on a book, I pretty much write a couple of hours a day until it is finished. I have a compulsion to finish projects I start, so getting inspired isn’t usually a problem for me.
  • Did your parents encourage your love for reading and/or writing? If not, where did encouragement come from? I believe God hard-wired me to be a writer. As I mentioned before, I wrote stories for years just for my own enjoyment. That’s what writers do. They can’t help themselves. It was when I kept thinking about being published, but not doing anything about it, that God asked me to make a decision. It was as though He said, “Well, are you going to do this or not? If you’re a writer, then write. If you’re not, then stop fancying yourself as one and move on.” That’s when I rolled up my sleeves and got to work.
  • Do you like the promotional aspect of being a writer? What are your best promotional tools? I wish I didn’t have to promote my books. I’d much rather write them, and then move onto the next story. Unfortunately, the publishing industry doesn’t work that way. Unless people are told about your stories, they won’t know they exist. And the responsibility for making that happen rests squarely on my shoulders. I’m the one who sends out announcements, sets up book signings, sell my books at conventions, and the like. It takes a lot of effort creating buzz about my stories, some of which work and some don’t. My best promotional tool is probably Blog Talk Radio. This is a website that hosts hundred of radio stations. I will send out a query to a station that has a connection to my book in some way, and if a particular station agrees to have me on their show, I have the potential to reach thousands of people I could never reach otherwise. It also doesn’t cost any money to do an interview, which is always a plus.
  • How did you study the craft of writing? Trial and error, with an emphasis on the error.
  • Are you a plotter or a panster? Explain your writing process. I’m a combination of both. I like to develop the structure for a story, create the characters, and the various plot points. I often think of it as a skeleton. Once I feel I have a good handle on the story, I then start filling in the gaps as I write. This allows me not to be too restricted by my outline in case I make changes along the way, and I always do.
  • What do you do when you are not writing? Do you have any hobbies? I have two children in high school, so they keep me plenty busy. I also enjoy watching movies whenever possible.
  • How did you get your first book published? How long did it take? Was this the first book you had written? My first novel, When the Sky Fell, was written over a period of 28 years. I wasn’t a strong writer in the beginning, so it took me a while to develop the skills necessary to be a publishable author. When I felt the story was ready, I started sending out manuscript proposals to publishers. After two years of trying, I finally found a publisher that wanted to publish my novel, and I’ve been writing books and short stories since.
  • Why do you write? It’s just who I am. I am a story teller at heart, and I am fortunate enough to have been born with the ability to craft those stories into words. Mind you, it took a long time for me to develop those skills. I believe God has created us with different skills and abilities, and when we share those gifts with others, He is the one who is honored.

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Mike Lynch’s first book, Dublin, came out in 2007, followed by When the Sky Fell, American Midnight, The Crystal Portal, and After the Cross. His next novel, Love’s Second Chance, is scheduled to be released by Ellechor Publishing this year. He has also published numerous short stories in various magazines. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and two children.