Interview: Michael John Grist

Posted: January 29, 2015 in Interviews, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Michael Grist

I had the pleasure of interviewing Michael John Grist about his novel Mr. Ruins: A Thriller (click here).  We discussed everything form his new novel, how American accents score in the UK, and who would win in a battle between Kate and Pippa Middleton.  Fans of Sci Fi be sure to check out his new book that is now perma-free on Amazon (yes, free book!).  You can find links to his work and contact information at the bottom of the interview.  Here’s how it went:

Will:  Tell me about yourself, where are you from?  Family?  Kids?

Michael:  I’m half-American and half-British, distantly connected to the Cherokee. I’m married to a South Korean lady, after having lived in Tokyo, Japan for the last 11 years. Now we live in London, UK, without kids or pets, though we’d like to get a cat.

Will:  Tell me about Mr. Ruins.  Why would my readers be interested in it?  What’s your favorite thing about the book?

Michael:  Mr. Ruins is set in a post-apocalyptic future world wrecked by global tsunamis and bitter resource wars. Our main character is Ritry, a graysmith, who dives minds a bit like the characters in Inception. He gets into a long fight with a psycho called Mr. Ruins, who wants all kinds of things from him, none of which Ritry is prepared to give.

Your readers are most likely to like it if they want their SF a little cryptic and their thrillers quite violent. Like Memento (another great Chris Nolan movie), the narrative is a bit of a puzzle, jumping somewhat in time and place. If you like China Mieville, Iain Banks, or Neal Stephenson, it may be your bag.

My favorite thing about it is probably Mr. Ruins. He’s complex, he’s long-lived, he’s seen and feasted off the fall of nations, and he’s deeply messed-up. And he wants Ritry. But Ritry is a predator too, and won’t go lightly.

Will:  You’re from the U.K. according to your bio.  Tell me, do American accents score as often with the ladies in the U.K. as British guys do in the U.S.?

Michael:  Hmm, I can’t claim to have had a surfeit of success in either country. Movies tell yes though, so I’ll go with that.

Will:  Where does your inspiration in your writing come from?  Did you have a mentor?  Have you always loved writing?

Michael:  No mentor, and yes I’ve always been into writing. Inspiration comes from my real-life ruins explorations and dreams. One half of the story in Mr. Ruins is set in a ruined dystopia, full of abandoned shark-fighting arenas and wrecked godships. I’ve been to plenty of ruins in Japan, when I was visiting forgotten theme parks and relics of world war 2, to take photos and write up stories for my website (, so I drew on that.

The other half of the story came from a dream where a crew of black-clad marines were piloting a lava submarine through a planet’s molten core. Most of my dreams are not as great material as that, though.

Will:  Do you ever write people from your past in your stories?  Like the little asshole that maybe took your lunch money?  So you turn him into a trans-gendered drag queen who loves to east Swiss Cake Rolls and nobody loves him?

Michael:  I can’t say that I consciously do. If anything, I’m probably drawing on larger-than-life characters I’ve read about in fiction. When I write Carrolla for instance, a lunk-headed good-natured player who is Ritry’s pal, I think of Caramon (brother of Raistlin) in the Dragonlance books, which I read as a kid. Maybe he’s an archetype.

Will:  What’s your writing process like?  Any crazy rituals?  How do you deal with writer’s block?

Michael:  Very dull, no rituals, and I haven’t ever had writer’s block, because I never sit down with a blank screen before me, not knowing what to write. Rather I’ll look at my list of ideas, which I’m always curating and adding to, and pick one. I’ll rough out an outline, and if it’s good I’ll start to write it. No need for block when you do it like that.

Will:  Last question:  Who would win a fight between Kate and Pippa?  Do you think they should be naked when said fight takes place?

Michael:  Kate is Kate Middleton, and Pippa (just googling who she is…), oh, it’s Kate’s sister. Hmm. Why would they fight? Which one is younger? (just googling). Pippa. OK, I think she’ll win because she’s hungrier. But honestly, let them eat cake. No need to fight.

Will:  Thanks for taking the time to talk to us and for being a good sport.  I wish you the best!

Michael:  My pleasure, thanks for having me Will.

I want to thank Michael for talking to me and for making his book free to the public.  Be sure to check it out and you can contact Michael at the links below.  If you have a moment please share this interview and help a fellow indie gain some exposure.  Cross promoting helps out everyone.

Bio:  Michael John Grist is a British author and ruins photographer who lives in London, UK. He writes dark and weird science fiction and fantasy books, such as the fantasy novel Ignifer’s Rise and the SF series The Ruins Sonata.

For 11 years he lived in Tokyo exploring Japan’s modern ruins, such as abandoned theme parks, military bases, and ghost towns, gaining millions of hits on this website with his photographs and stories.

The best of these adventures are now collected in his unique travel book Into the Ruins, which thriller bestseller Barry Eisler calls, “gorgeous, haunting, stunning.”

Now Michael enjoys working out in the gym, watching TV and movies, and of course writing stories and novels. He lives in London with his wife, and works as an academic English lecturer at university.

Mr Ruins

click here to pick up a copy of Mr. Ruins: A Thriller

Contact Michael:

author website:  click here

twitter:  click here



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