Monday, 6 February 2012

Book Blast with Author Mike Meyer

Book Blast in association with Fierce Reading Virtual Book Tours

Guest Author Interview with Michael Meyer

I would like to welcome Michael Meyer - author of Covert Dreams to my blog.  I am honoured to have you over here today.  Mike's website can be found here: Michael Meyer Amazon Website  I urge you to check it out.

Michael Meyer recently retired from a 40-year career as a professor of writing, amassing numerous teaching awards along the way from both his students and his colleagues.  He lives in the Southern California wine country with his wife Kitty, and their two other cats.  Many years ago, he was a student in Germany.  He has since visited Munich several times.  He was also a professor at the University of Petroleum and Minerals in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, and has travelled extensively throughout the Middle East.  The locales he writes about here are real.  

Why did you decide to self-publish your work?

People often ask me how I decided to self-publish my own novels.  The answer is simple, and yet there is some complexity to it.  I wanted my work to be read right away.  If I had gone the traditional publishing route, Covert Dreams would still be somewhere along the lengthy publishing route, lying there not yet ready to be put into readers' hands.  It takes months, sometimes years, to get one's work published the traditional way.  I am so delighted that Amazon Direct Publishing came onto the scene.  Covert Dreams has already sold hundreds of copies since its birth at its new home on Amazon Kindle on October 17, 2011.  And in that short time, this international thriller has made me an international author.  Copies of it have already been bought in England, Germany, France, Australia and Singapore, in addition to wide distribution throughout the United States and Canada.

F.Scott Fitzgerald, the highly acclaimed international author, often complained of having to change parts of his books, especially endings, to satisfy his publishers.  He is not, by far, the only author who has had to adhere to someone else's editing in order to be published.  In my case, the case of a self-published novelist on Amazon Kindle, I have complete control over every single aspect of my book, every word, every punctuation mark, and even to the appearance of the cover.

Yes, Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing has been a real godsend to me, and my international thriller Covert Dreams is proof of that.

What or who inspired you to become a professor of writing?

I come from a long line of teachers.  My grandmother, my dad, my mom, and most of my aunts and uncles were teachers, as are my three sisters and my wife, and many of my first cousins.  My father was an English professor, and I wanted to follow in his steps.  I love the higher education environment.  Colleges and universities are to me like sugar water to a hummingbird.

Did you always have a passion for writing from a young age?

I always had a talent for writing, which was driven by my passion for stringing words together to say something that would make others take notice.  My teachers, all through the school system, told me so.  I have written my whole life.  My cupboards are filled with my writing, which spans a forty-five year period.  I have bits and pieces of stories, completed short stories, essays, and notes galore.

Covert Dreams is your third novel published in 2011.  You have had a busy year.  Have all three books been works in progress over a number of years?

Yes, all three books were begun earlier.  I have worked on them in fits and a few bursts over the past couple of years.  I spent a lot of time getting them word processed before I retired in December of 2010, at which time I began working furiously on them.  As a retiree, I now have precious time I need to devote to my writing.

As a Professor you must have published many articles.  Did these include any works of fiction or were they purely related to your teaching subject?

I published lots of documents during my forty-year career as a college professor, but they were all directly involved with my work.  I even publish two writing textbooks.  I was the chair of the English department for my community college district here in California, which placed me in charge of three campuses, with over 30,000 students.  I wrote lots of materials at that time, including departmental procedures.

In your bio you mention that you were a Professor at the University of Petroleum and Minerals in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.  I have read they have an English Language department there.  Was the role TEFL (teaching English as a Foreign Language) or to help students with their writing skills in relation to their work?

The University of Petroleum and Minerals has two distinct English departments.  One is purely TEFL.  Since the language of instruction at the university is English, they also have an English department, where I taught how to write well in English.  That is where I taught.  It is essentially a university to prepare men to go to work for the huge Saudi ARAMCO Corporation.  However, I did teach primarily TEFL for the first fifteen years of my college teaching career before moving primarily into the teaching of writing.

What gave you the inspiration for the storyline of Covert Dreams?

I love a good mystery.  I like to be thrilled.  There are few locales in the world more mysterious than Saudi Arabia.  In addition, Munich has been one of my most frequented vacation spots.  That is how I chose the two primary locales.  As for the plot, the strange relationship between the very Western American government and the ultra conservative Saudi government has intrighued me, so the plot was born.

Will we see more novels from you over the next few years?

I am nearly finished with my second novel of suspense, entitled The Deadly Eyes Of St. Croix.  I was a professor of English at the St. Croix campus of the University of the Virgin Islands for four years.  I hope to have the novel published by Amazon Kindle in the next couple of months.  And then I hope to get started on my next book and the one after that.  I seriously hope to be writing well into my old age.

What do you like reading or is there a favourite author?

I have very eclectic reading tastes.  I love reading well-researched history, and, as an English professor emeritus, I enjoy reading fiction.  I have no favourite author as such, but there are many I greatly admire: Richard Russo, John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway and Mark Twain, just to mention a few that pop into my head.

If you were to set Covert Dreams to music, what would you choose?   

Since there are two alternating story lines, one taking place in Munich and the other in Saudi Arabia, I would have to choose some Arabic instrumental music intermingled with a boisterous tuba.

What hobbies or interests do you participate in, other than writing?

I am an avid world traveller.  I have lived in Finland, Germany, Thailand, Saudi Arabia and the US Virgin Islands.  I have travelled extensively, many times, throughout the Caribbean, Asia, the Middle East, and both Western and Eastern Europe.  I love being a part of different cultures, learning things I would never have known if I had stayed only in my native California.  My wife and I travel internationally at least once a year.

Thank you so much for coming over to the blog today and sparing your time.

Book Review - Covert Dreams

Synopsis - Is the mysterious disappearance of an American in today's Saudi Arabia somehow linked to a terrible murder in Munich back in 1984?  What is real, and what is not?  Who is really who, and why?  What is behind the murder, the kidnappings, and the nightmares all leading up to what end?  The mounting intensity moves from the beer gardens of Munich to the burning sands of Arabia. (Taken from Amazon)

Review -  It took me a little while to get into the story.  At first I found jumping from the character BJ in the US in one chapter to another character Stan finding his wife 'missing' in Saudi Arabia confusing as I would have to remind myself who was doing what and why.  Once the dream scenario took off and I knew that Valerie, Stan's wife had 'disappeared' from trace, it became clear that these stories were intertwined and would all somehow wrap up in Munich where BJ's dreams took place in 1984.

There was a lot of information packed in there, which took a little time to unravel but it did just that at a reasonable pace.  I liked the concept of the storyline, almost bordering on scifi which is in a scary way quite realistic.  The characters were good, we got to know BJ, Dabbie the woman in his dreams, and Gina his patient wife.  Also Stan and the people he met along the way. The story came to a nice conclusion when all was explained.  Who knows just what covert operations are going on out there in the world!  3*

Here is an excerpt of the author reading the first few chapters of the book.

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