Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Meet MG Author Michael Selden

Carpinello's Writing Pages welcomes Michael Selden who now calls Colorado home. Michael shares his Middle Grade novel The Boy Who Ran with readers.

First, a bit about Michael:

Michael Selden has lived all around the world and has been an eyewitness to numerous historical events such as the building of the Berlin Wall. His father was a non-commissioned officer in the United States Air Force.  Mike graduated from St. Mary’s High School, Colorado Springs Colorado and later earned a degree in physics from the University of Florida.

He has worked as a research physicist, program manager, and principal investigator on numerous scientific and engineering efforts his career. Having achieved the goals he set for himself in science and technology, Michael retired from his first career to pursue his other passion, writing, turning what had been a life-long avocation into a full-time pursuit. In July 2013, Michael moved from Baltimore, Maryland to Woodland Park, Colorado, returning to the region where he went to high school, to write and publish books.

Why did you pick to write books for Middle Grade?

I’m not sure that I picked a specific genre. I had a story in mind, one based on a theme, and the way the story came to me as I began to write it had the tone of an older children’s book. I liked the way the writing was going—I hadn’t actually intended to make it a novel, but was experimenting with a kind of tone in the language. But the story sounded nice as I wrote, so I completed it.

What types of books do you like to read?

I read everything, as long as I think it’s good. I’ll try books that look promising, but if I don’t like it after reading about half way, then I’ll stop.  I try to give each one a fair chance. As examples, I like the American classics, Steinbeck was great, Hemingway a little less. I mixed in some Jane Austin plus a lot of YA books when I was prepping for young adult the book called The Balance, but I’ve also read a lot of science fiction and books intended for younger readers too, like the Harry Potter series.

When you are not writing, what do you like to do?

I like to read and to cook. I like walking in cities and hiking in the mountains. I started learning to fly fish last year, which can be challenging or relaxing, depending on how you want to treat it on any particular day. I want to try hunting but put it off for a year. I like to travel and am planning to coordinate travel schedules with research for books. There is a whole world of interesting things to learn and do out there, and now I have the time to do whatever I want.

Tell us about The Boy Who Ran and how the story came to be.

The Boy Who Ran is a Middle Grade novel. The boy is the only survivor when his village is massacred, and he runs into the forest to escape. The event changes him. A hunting party from another village finds him, and they take him in, but he never fits in. He spends hours every day in the forest, running, learning to move silently, and watching what he calls “the other animals”. Late one summer he decides that this life he’s made for himself isn’t enough. He decides that he wants to learn to be a hunter because they are valued by The People, and he sets out to become more of a part of the village.

Here's a peek at The Boy Who Ran:

The marauders crept quietly through the trees and tall grass, their attention focused on the prey—each man was cloaked in gray fur. The leader of the Wolf Pack carried a stone axe. It was a strange weapon that had been made by fusing several large flint shards into the leg bone of some beast, and was well suited for close-quarter fighting. The rest carried heavy spears, similar to the ones commonly used by hunters, but these men no longer hunted in the traditional sense.

It was dark; just a sliver of the summer moon peeked through the high, thin clouds to illuminate the ground. Within the pack's circle was a small nomadic camp. Ten hide shelters surrounded a fire that had been banked for the night, its coals still hot and ready to flare up with just a little more fuel and a little more air. One lone figure was visible in the camp. The sentinel leaned against a pile of hids; the man's chin, yielding to fatigue and the comfort of a full stomach, rested on his chest.

As the pack grew closer, the lingering aroma from the camp's last mean made their mouths water.

Have you written other books? If so, tell us a bit about them.

This was actually the second book I wrote. I finished the first draft of The Balance on New Year’s Eve 2011, and since I was in the habit of writing every day, rolled right into The Boy Who Ran. After that draft was done, I ping-ponged back and forth between them, making revisions.

The Balance
is a Young Adult novel with a science fiction back story. It’s set in the future, about 200 years after a global thermonuclear war. I plan to publish it later this year and am working with an editor, as I revise it chapter-by-chapter. I won’t publish it until I’m satisfied that its quality is the best I can do for now.

What’s next for your writing? Are you working on a new story?

The Balance is in rewrite and will come out this year.  A few sample chapters are already available on my web site. I’ve written about a third of the draft for I Am, and a few chapters of Disobedience. That gets me through 2016. I have several other stories plotted out. Some have a couple of chapters written as reminders of how I want it to sound, but I’ll make a decision on those later.

What advice do you have for other authors?

Sure, but understand that I view myself as a student of writing, rather than a master, so take my advice from that perspective.

Read and write!  That’s the most important thing to do. There’s only one way to get better at writing and that’s to write, but I’ve found reading can help you understand where you have weaknesses as well. Secondly, get help. Don’t assume that what you’ve written is good, just based on your own opinion.

Anything else you want readers to know?

The first thing is I probably like to read more than I like to write, but I like both.

The second is on philosophy: Because of my past career, I’m not happy if the worlds I create aren’t at least consistent within themselves and have depth.

I researched the time frame for The Boy Who Ran, determined which animals and plants were native to North America, what tools the people had and used, and if I deviated, at least I know ahead of time where I may have borrowed things from another era or location. I discuss this on my web site too.

Where can readers find you and your books?

I am available at my web site, on Facebook, on Twitter, and on GoodReads.

The Boy Who Ran is available in paperback and can be ordered pretty much anywhere in the world from both on-line and brick and mortar bookstores—including Amazon which offers the only current e-version of the book, on Kindle. I have an e-pub version that I’ll release after a while, but right now I’ve signed Amazon’s agreement for their select program.


  1. Great interview Cheryl! I had the privilege of interviewing Michael Seldon too. So glad you shared this on the hop!

  2. Fabulous interview, I very much enjoyed reading about Michael's career and writing pursuits. Thanks for hosting the Kid Lit Blog Hop.

  3. Wonderful interview. Michale's life is so interesting. I wonder if he will write something around the Berlin Wall! Thanks for sharing the interview on KidLit Blog Hop Cheryl.

    1. That's an interesting idea, Reshama. I hadn't considered it before. I was just a young boy in Berlin at the time and certainly knew what was happening around me. I would probably try to weave it into a larger story, as a kind of interlude experience, rather than as a stand alone story. Thanks for the question.

  4. Wow, what a fantastic interview. Thanks for hosting the Kid Lit Blog Hop and for sharing this on it. This book is going on our (long) TBR list. :)

  5. It sounds like it was necessary to do a lot of research to develop the setting. I really like the basic premise of the book - very interesting! Thanks for introducing us to yet another new author and book Cheryl!

    1. Renee, there was some research required, although there isn't a lot known about the era. I pieced together different things I learned and then also researched which plants and animals were native to North America. Some of the animal behavior descriptions came from real stories from hunters and then I had a friend who was very familiar with the customs of the People's descendants. Where information was scarce or absent I pieced in later customs, or in some cases made up small details. There's a link on my site on the main page called History and The Boy which explains this a little.