Below is a transcript of part 1 of Jay Lemming’s video interview with Mike Sahno. Access Part 2 via the link at the bottom of the page.
Video Interview with Mike Sahno: Author of Whizzers – Transcript #1
Jay Lemming: Hi everyone, I’m Jay Lemming, author of literary and horror fiction and I’m happy to be here today with Mike Sahno, a fellow author and the president and founder of Sahno Publishing. I
f you’re familiar with me, you know that I’ve done author interviews before and I’ve got a blog and all that good stuff but you know one thing I haven’t done before is I haven’t done video interviews so I wanted to start with Mike because I’ve known Mike online anyway for several years and I’ve read one of his books and just looked forward to the opportunity to interview him live.
He was gracious enough to accept so I’m going to interview with him and he’s going to talk about his writing, his mutual interest in literary fiction as well–we both have that interest–and hopefully this will be of interest to you and you’ll learn more about him and more about his writing. So we’ll just kind of see how it goes. Mike, like I said a few seconds ago before we got started I’ll just say a couple of words about you and for the viewers and listeners who are out there.
Mike is the author of three novels and one collection of short stories and we’re going talk a little bit about his work in progress. He’s also the president of Sahno Publishing, which is a publishing outfit that works with other authors of literary fiction and entrepreneurs. He offers a variety of services which I’ll let him speak about.
Mike, you’re in Tampa Florida right.
Mike Sahno: Yes sir.
Jay Lemming: All right, great. So let’s get started. You know before we talk about your fiction, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself, your marketing history, and Sahno Publishing.
Mike Sahno: Thanks, Jay. Well I appreciate you having me on for this. This is great. I started out my career–as you and I have talked about offline a little bit–by going to school up in Binghamton, New York. That’s one of the connections we had, was that we both went to SUNY Binghamton back before it became Binghamton University.
I got a master’s degree in English Literature after getting a bachelor’s degree in English Literature in a little-known school down in Virginia and what happened for me was, I didn’t end up taking the academic path that I thought I was going to take. It was the early ‘90s and the country was in a recession and I was applying for teaching assistantships and I would get a letter of rejection as it were back from a college or university and it would say “thank you for submitting your application; unfortunately, there were 364 other highly qualified applicants. You know what it was. They were basically looking at the PhD people, not any other people. I quickly realized that that was not going to be the way to go for me and I already had a job in a market research firm doing political polls and market research surveys and that kind of thing. Then for whatever reason the supervisor was let go and I don’t know if they planned to ask me to replace her or if they then looked around and went, oh crap we have to get somebody else to take over for her. But they asked me and so it expanded from a part-time to a full-time gig and I stayed with that for four years as a director of this.
Back then it was called the Watts Telecenter International which wasn’t the company name either. It was, like, the department. It was a phone bank; like a ballroom with people making calls. But it was a gig and taught me a lot about marketing and especially about the research side of things .So I stuck with that until I came down to Tampa. I came down to escape from the cold weather that you’re probably enjoying up there now. You’re in Maryland right outside of the DC line, I think. Okay, yeah, I knew it was pretty close to DC.
So I didn’t come down here with a job. I came down here to escape from that weather and I figured I’ll get a job here. It wasn’t as easy to get what I thought I was going to get here, and what happened was I had to choose between either taking on a job just like the one I had up north as a market research manager or the temp job that I already had where I was working to get income in a mortgage company. And as it turned out if you weighed the two together they were pretty equal when it came to the benefits of all of that. I think the mortgage company one had been teased and the other one didn’t so long story long I went ahead and took the mortgage company job because it was just a better deal and it was kind of easier and the reason I’m telling that story is because that enabled me to spend free time writing just like my old gig at the market research company did. So I would work and then I would go home and I’d work on books.
I don’t think answered the question that was a long answer to a short question.
Jay Lemming: That’s okay. I mean, if you think about a lot of writers–a lot of authors may not be necessarily blessed to be able to write full-time. I mean some are your brand names that you’ll find in the Barnes & Noble catalogs but I would imagine that most authors and in particular maybe most authors that readers will get to know through videos like this are those that continue to work in one form or another and they have really interesting career paths and yet the writing stays with them–the love of the writing stays with them.
Mike Sahno: When I was in high school, I went to Catholic High School and I had a nun English teacher who was so old that she had taught my mom and. She was tough and was teaching us Faulkner, The sound and the Fury and all this stuff like you would never think a nun would have us read. And I remember telling her that I wanted to be a writer and she said, well, you better learn to dig ditches.
I didn’t really know if I should take that as an insult but now looking back, I know what she meant because so many people do something that’s not writing-related or academia and they’re working on their books at the same time, so you know that’s definitely a good point.
Jay Lemming: I think if you go to, well, I don’t know if I want to say that–I’ll go ahead and say it anyway but you know if you get too far into your passion for writing, and this is not necessarily a good life lesson for young aspiring writers–but if you get too far into it sometimes you want to make sure that you still have enough of a connection to earn a paycheck and just have applicable skills if you will. Twenty years ago, I wouldn’t have said this necessarily–I would have been young and passionate and full of passion and fury–you know, Look Homeward, Angel type just full of fury. Oh, I have to write and that’s it. But you know real life intervenes sometimes, so this is a great segue to really ask a little bit more about your writing accomplishments because you have a website. I think it’s www.msahno.com and viewers who go to your website are going to find your three novels that are featured there including Brother’s Hand and Jana.
Mike Sahnno: Yes, there’s Brother’s Hand and Jana and Miles of Files.
Jay Lemming: So you’ve written these three novels. Congratulations. I mean, some people think writing one novel is an accomplishment in life and you’ve written three and I want to ask you about a little bit later about your current work in progress which is another novel. But can you tell us about the three novels that you wrote? When did you write them? Was it back-to-back. Were you just inspired and suddenly you found yourself with three novels? Or was it a longer more complicated story?
Mike Sahno: Wow, well Brothers Hand was something that I started right out of grad school probably within the first year or so. And just to backtrack a tiny bit, that’s the master’s program in Harpur College – Binghamton University. At that time, the creative writing master’s course’s thesis could be one of three things–a collection of original poetry, a collection of short stories or a novel.
I had a few short stories in hand but they weren’t really enough for a thesis and I didn’t feel confident enough to be trying to create a collection out of that stuff. But I’d been known as a poet already. I was class poet in my high school and I was still writing a lot of poetry and I had a great academic advisor who actually I had a class with, and she was she was somebody who I knew her for her poetry and vice versa so she and I actually talked about me doing a collection of original poetry for my thesis. And I did. And, you know, thank God they accepted it and I got the degree. It’s incredibly nerve-racking to be handing over a 36-page document and it’s basically, either they accepted or they reject it and, lucky for me, they accepted it.
But, of course, I did write fiction and I wanted to write a novel but I literally was not sure whether I could do it. I think that’s probably true for just about anybody who has never written a novel but wants to write. So I started writing this story and as I was writing it, it was getting a little bit longer and a little bit longer and I realized, hey, this could be a novel and then the question is: Can I write a novel because you don’t know you can do it until you do it and I always I don’t know how you feel about this, but I always think of writing a novel–a serious novel–I always compare it to climbing Mount Everest by yourself with like a spoon for equipment. You don’t have a team necessarily. I mean maybe people do now and they do beta readers and all this stuff.
But I did all this completely by myself. This was pre-internet. I didn’t go to the library and try to meet other writers. It was just me in a room day after day and I would add it to parts of my journal. I literally handwrote the whole thing and interspersed it with journal entries.