From left to right on the top: Wendall Brown, M. Scott Verne, me, and Ken St. Andre. Bottom row is Anita Martinez and Steve Crompton.
And now for the rest of the interview.
Randy: Do you have a favorite deity, or mythology, for these stories?
M: Well, I’m personally partial to the Egyptian gods and deities. I think Wynn really likes the Greeco-Roman Gods, but we try not to let that stop us from using and focusing on the other cultures like Mayan, Hindu, Babylonian, Asian, etc.
Randy: Are there any deities that haven’t been written about that you would like to see included in future projects?
M: There are thousands of Gods… No way to get them all in the mix in one book. We have some interesting things to reveal about Odin, so I’m looking forward to his future appearance, along with many others, both well known and obscure… I’ll leave it at that for now…
Randy: The field of – all mythologies – gives you a lot of material to work with. How do you plan to go about developing future projects from such an expansive source?
M: It’s a big universe, so there’s lots to work with. Part of the process is finding interesting gods from differing cultures and seeing what they might react once they exist within a place with many different cultures. How might they be helpful or try gain advantage? We also look for deities whose powers are unique and might be able to change the balance of power.
Randy: What is your next project for City of the Gods?
M: Getting the second novel finished – Hopefully later this year. We are planning some kind of City of the Gods role-playing game sometime in the future as well…
Randy: City of the Gods is an illustrated novel. Do you think that combination of pictures and written word is the pinnacle of story telling?
M: Well I don’t know that I’d go that far, but we created our book as a tribute to the sort of books that were published 150 years ago, and since we were using classic settings and mythical figures from our past, we were able to use that art for our own stories. That was the way books were made back then, so we used that as our starting point. Steve altered the art to fit the story.
Randy: I’ve heard it mentioned that leaving the details of any given scene to the reader’s imagination has a more powerful impact. How do you respond to that?
M: It’s a balancing act. I think that sometimes the details of a room or events in a given situation in a story are what make it worth reading. Too much detail gets boring of course.
Randy: How long does it take to put a book like this together?
M: The fist novel took a little over 2 years. The new Anthology we started last spring and we’ve been putting it together story by story for about 8 months.
Randy: Where do you eventually want to go with City of the Gods?
M: Oh you know, HBO series, Major Motion pictures – Either is fine - LOL
Seriously though, the plan is to create a world that can become a sort of lynch pin for many different books, art and games. It’s a major undertaking that I’ve committed the next 10 years to developing.
Randy: What sources of inspiration do you use for your projects?
M: I like to take classic myths which are often incomplete or missing the motivations of many of the characters. The Circe story I wrote for the Anthology is a perfect example. In the classic myth, Glaucus goes to Circe for a love potion for another woman. Jealous, Circe proclaims her love to Glaucus, begs him to forget that girl and stay with her. For me, that brings up a lot of questions; when did Glaucus and Circe first meet? Why is she so attracted to a merman and how does that fit into her personality and former actions from other myths? My story attempts to fill in those gaps and connect it into the period in City of the Gods when the gods leave Earth.
Randy: Since this project has been a collaboration between you, Wynn Mercere, and Steve Crompton let me ask you this. Team effort – one man show – Which is better and how would you compare the two?
M: A team can always accomplish more than one person. Hooking up with Wynn (who them brought in Steve was the smartest thing I ever did. The book wouldn’t exist in its current form without them. Of course with a one man show you have total control, so that’s the trade off. Personally, having a sounding board for ideas is a what has made out stuff as good as it is in terms of plot twists.
Randy: Do you have CoG t-shirts and coffee mugs yet? And what about a movie? When can we expect to see one of those?
M: No t-shirts or mugs yet, but we’ll probably make them at some point. Don’t hold your breath about a movie anytime soon. There are many frustrating stories about successful books that almost get made into movie, but it never quite happens. 'Don Quixote' is a perfect example, boith Orson Welles and Terry Gilliam tried and were never able to finish. Ender’s Game was a another one that almost keeps getting made (though it is in production yet again) An how often is a book made into a bad movie… most times unfortunately… For every Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, there are 50 that didn’t hit the mark.
Randy: Put the shoe on the other foot for a moment. If you were interviewing me, as one of the contributing authors, what question would you ask?
M: Easy… What was it like writing in someone else’s’ universe and what do you think of the City of the Gods concept?