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An Interview with Michael Bland, author of The Price of Rebellion

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Michael’s debut novel, The Price of Safety, was published in 2020. Though released during a global pandemic, The Price of Safety reached #7 in Amazon’s rankings for dystopian novels and won awards for both science fiction and thriller (by Indie Book Awards) as well as New Fiction (by National Indie Excellence Awards). The second novel in the trilogy, The Price of Rebellion, was released in May 2023. It won Best Science Fiction Novel of 2022 by Indies Today and was awarded a Bronze Medal for Science Fiction by Readers’ Favorite.

Michael is a founding member and the secretary of BookPod, an online book support group. He currently lives in Florida and is working on the third book in The Price of Trilogy.

Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?

My decision to become a writer grew from a number of events, though getting a knife pulled on me was a wakeup call.

As a kid, I loved to read. Even when I was gifted an old TV to put in my bedroom, most nights I read instead of watched TV (I’m still that way). I read books, comics, and magazines. Though there were signs of what I would end up doing—I wrote and drew three comic books when I was ten—I had it in my head to go into business after college. I obtained a job with a national company and dove into my new career, but that first job was in the collections department of an auto lender, which included repossessing cars. Sometimes at night. In sketchy parts of town.

After one of my customers pulled a knife on me to stop me from taking his car, I reevaluated my life choices. This wasn’t the career or life I imagined. That’s when I began to pursue writing.

The journey to becoming a published author was challenging, frustrating, and disappointing at times—and took way longer than I would’ve expected—but I’m extremely proud of my novels and the recognition I’ve received.

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

Before I started repossessing cars, I worked at a video rental store, a McDonald’s, and a high-volume restaurant. After I left the collections job, I entered the world of small business lending. It’s been a rewarding career, helping small business owners chase their dreams of owning their own business. I’ve provided loans in all 50 states and a wide variety of interesting and unique companies. But even though I’m proud of that career (which pays the bills), my passion is writing.

Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

The title of the first book took forever. The Price of Rebellion is the second book in the trilogy, so its title was easier (though you don’t need to read the first book, The Price of Safety, before reading the second. The Price of Rebellion summarizes the key parts of book one and works as a stand-alone novel.)

When I wrote The Price of Safety, I had a clear story, compelling characters, and a perilous world—but I didn’t have a title. I hoped it would come to me, but even after the story was finished, I had no idea what its title should be. Nothing I came up with worked, so I asked my beta readers for suggestions. Dorothy Mason, who created the cover for both novels, was the one who came up with the title. She offered a number of suggestions, and The Price of Safety was the one that resonated. It reflects the theme of the first book, with the characters paying the price for the choices they made to keep them “safe”.

When I wrote the second book, I knew the focus would be the main characters fighting their enemies. They would rebel against the agency fighting them—and Dray Quintero, the main character, would rebel against those helping him. The Price of Rebellion shows the price of both of those decisions, hence the title.

How did it feel when you first saw your book cover? Or when you first held your book in your hands?

It was such a rush of emotions: joy at seeing The Price of Rebellion in print, wonder that I’ve achieved my goal of completing the book, worry that there might be typos or errors I missed, and relief that it’s done. It’s a little unreal to actually see it in print. Each book is the culmination of hundreds (and hundreds) of hours of planning, writing, editing, deleting, and more editing. To readers, I hope the story is a fun, gripping, thrilling story. But to me, each novel is an encapsulation of a time of my life, and the passion and sweat and effort that went into creating the story.

If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?

I’ve never been asked that! I’m a fan of alternative and rock music (Snow Patrol, Silversun Pickups, Foo Fighters, The National), so I would have songs from those artists: “Nightlight” and “Lazy Eye” by Silversun Pickups; “Hero,” “Waiting on a War,” and “Rescued” by Foo Fighters; “You’re All I Have” and “Don’t Give In” by Snow Patrol; and “I Need My Girl” by The National. I might mix those choices with some older songs like “Waiting for the Night” by Depeche Mode.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

I hope readers take away the central theme of the book, which is that technology can be used to manipulate us in ways we may not expect. I tried to make my world as realistic as possible, which means what I imagined could happen if we’re not careful. I love technology. The things we have now seem like science fiction compared to the way the world was 50 years ago. But like anything, there are risks. I hope readers enjoy the story and fall in love with the characters. I hope the book resonates with them. But I also hope they take the theme to heart and think twice before allowing organizations to impinge on their rights. Remember: everything has a price.

What was the most rewarding/meaningful part of publishing your book?

The most rewarding part has been hearing what people think about my book. So much of writing is solitary. It’s me and my computer, typing away, editing, cursing a little, and so on. Book sales are great, and I hope each novel becomes a best seller, but hearing and reading readers’ reaction is the best part. I love to engage with them, hear what they thought about the book, what parts they liked best, and where they think the story will go next. Please let me know what you think about the novel—and please leave reviews. They have more impact than you realize.

What new writing projects are you currently working on? Or, other projects that are not writing?

I’m working on the last book in the trilogy. The rough draft has been written—so I know how the story ends and who survives. I’m in the editing process now, and I’m excited about how the story concludes.

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