BIO: John Michael Hileman writes contemporary Pop Fantasy with a spiritual twist. If you like adrenaline packed supernatural mysteries, you've picked the right author. John works at Calvary Chapel Central Maine, where he produces a nation-wide television program, and leads worship. On the side, he writes novels, and runs a Christian Fiction review site. He currently lives in Bangor, Maine with his lovely wife, precious daughter, and "the boy".
Thanks for being here, John. It’s a pleasure.
#1- Tell us a little about yourself outside of your writing career…
Outside my writing career? Well I don't want to toot my own horn, but when I'm not writing bestselling books-- which is usually all the time-- I'm traveling the world as a jet setting playboy, who creates and destroys fortune 500 companies with the wave of a hand. I'm just kidding ... I'm a secret agent.
Oh, stop looking at me like that. I could be a secret agent. Is it so far fetched? Fine! I live an "ordinary" life. Is that what you want to hear? There's no espionage or intrigue, I'm just an average Joe. But, to my credit-- as average Joes go-- I am extraordinarily average!
Well the less than exciting truth is: I work at a church. It is not as glamorous as my last job-- Production director of a television station-- but it makes me happy. During a typical work week I get to sing and play guitar for the 400 or so children and teens enrolled in our school, produce the television program our humble church of 4000 makes available to the community, and write and create content for our children's Sunday school program (that is a non-humiliating way of saying: I make puppet shows).
When I'm not working at the church, I am working from my home. I manage a Christian Fiction Review site, and help authors connect with readers by doing giveaways and by featuring writing samples.
#2- Can you tell us a bit about your book in this giveaway?
VRIN: ten mortal gods is the kind of book you'll either love or you'll hate-- or be somewhere in between. I don't like to talk about my own work, so I'll quote this reviewer:
"I don't normally post reviews, but I feel I must. This story gripped me from page one, and would not let go till I had devoured all 344. It kind of reminded me of Nine Princes in Amber mixed with some Ted Dekker Circle Trilogy. This was exactly the kind of book I love: epic fantasy with a smattering of science fiction thrown in. Plus, there was a supernatural aspect I found very intriguing. I don't want to ruin it for anyone, but I'll just say this: it made me view God and eternity from an entirely different perspective ... If you love God and like epic urban fantasy/science fiction, this is the book for you."
#3- How do you handle the negative reviews and critiques you receive?
I only seem to be getting bad reviews on Goodreads. I attribute that to the fact that I joined the YA supernatural group, and some people got the idea that my book was a new age fantasy-- which can set a reader up for disappointment.
I did not write my story with the purpose of embedding a Christian message, but that is how it is apparently being taken. It was my belief that a story about seeing the world from an eternal perspective-- instead of an Earthly one-- would have been a universal message. It is clear that I was wrong. Readers who do not believe in God, or think God is an impersonal life force of some kind, find my book disappointing. I take solace in the fact that almost every single bad review has a line like this in it:
"The writing was good, and Hileman definitely has talent. The book had me engaged, and I did find myself pushing other things aside to keep on reading. That is a mark of his abilities."
But inevitably, I get 3 stars out of five because the message is didactic to someone who does not believe God is sovereign over the universe, and the reviews end like this:
"The disappointing side for me was the extremely didactic ending. The story jumped from a really cool fantasy read into a heavy proselytizing tract. In twenty pages, I went from being excited to see how it would end, to begging for it to end quickly."
I will say this, Kelly, no one has given up on the book. Even those who hate it, finish it. That has to count for something. And, for the record-- as “proselytizing tracts” go-- my book is the worst ever. I don’t mention, or feign reference to, Jesus or Salvation in the entire book.
#4- I always found fantasy and sci-fi hard genres to write. Wherever do you come up with your ideas and where do you get your inspiration from?
It’s just how my brain works. I have an over active imagination bone. As far as I know, I don’t draw from anything else; I come up with everything on my own-- but I’m sure I’m deluding myself.
#5- Assuming you get any time to read, what authors do you like to read, and were there any books that stand out from your childhood as favorites?
I just finished reading the Skin Map by Stephen Lawhead, and I am currently reading The Charlatan’s boy, by Jonathan Rogers, to my family. It is a wonderful book.
When I was a younger man, I thrived on Peirs Anthony, Tolkien, Harry Harrison, and Roger Zelazny. That is probably why VRIN has a Nine Princes in Amber feel to it.
#6- Are there any upcoming releases we would like to know about, and could you give us your web site so readers can check it out?
I am on the cusp of releasing my second book titled Messages. Here is the elevator pitch.
David chances is an agnostic who had given up trying to figure out if there really is a God ... until his mind begins constructing messages from the sea of words around him- messages that warn him of events, before they happen. But there is one message he does not want to see ... in two days the President of the United States will be assassinated, and David is the only one who can stop it.
If anyone is interested in hearing more about Message or any of my other writing, they can visit ChristianFantasyAuthor.com
#7- This about concludes it. Thank you again for joining us. Is there anything else you would like to share?
I would just like to thank you for giving me a chance to tell you about my books, and I hope you’ll consider having me back for the next.