You've only recently published two novels, A Distance from Avalon
and Fight or Play Basketball - so could you tell us what each
of them is about?
Distance from Avalon: When the Dying and the Dead Reunite follows
Joe Humble, a middle school teacher, who's going through a tough divorce. His
co-worker, a music teacher named Shadow, invites Joe to “hang out” on
Halloween night. The two of them arrive at a castle called Avalon where
they meet their hosts, the alluring Heartbreak and, moments later, the
enigmatic Jean La Croix Distance.
the night evolves, it becomes apparent that there is more to the hosts
that meets the eye. Eventually, Jean and Heartbreak offer a “partner
exchange” for the remainder of the evening. An interesting mix of
philosophic and seductive scenes comes next. Eventually, chaos
ensues. Joe must ask himself if he is to stay in the castle, possibly
forever, or to run a distance from Avalon.
now for something completely different!”
or Play Basketball: Every Shot Counts is the story
of Jack, a very dedicated high school basketball star, who is being raised
by his strong single mother Janet. Their lives are disrupted when a thief
breaks into Janet’s car and “Sweet” Sugar Brown and Paveli
“Punch” Pangora, two big men who are just then coming out of Sweet’s
Sweat Box Gym, subsequently rescue her. Punch has been seeking Sweet’s
mentorship as a boxer.
Janet becomes friends with Sweet and Punch, Jack decides to check out the
boxing gym himself. As Sweet and Punch watch on, Jack discovers that he
has a natural ability for boxing. Despite the wishes of his mom and coach,
Jack adds a boxing tournament to his busy schedule, which eventually
conflicts with a big basketball game. Jack must decide whether to fight or
Let's start with A Distance from
Avalon - what were your sources of inspiration when writing that one?
Distance from Avalon rose from the ashes that were chronicled in my
Disregard the Vampire – A Mike Messier Documentary,
which can be enjoyed on Subscribe to Mike Messier YouTube Channel.
I decided to reboot and revamp the story as a narrative, I added the
“Avalon” element. “Avalonia” is a piece of land that broke off of
southern New England, USA many thousands of years ago and eventually sank
forever. Jean La Croix Distance tells us he hopes to “create a little
bit of that old Avalonia magic” at his castle of Avalon.
your two protagonists, Jean La Croix Distance and Joe Humble, whom could you
actually identify with more, and why?
that’s a good question! I think Joe is more of who I am now and Jean is
more of who I’d rather be. Something like that.
A Distance from
Avalon feels like it's part of a more extensive mythology - am I at
all correct in this, and if so, would you care to elaborate?
I will be publishing more installments in the months and years to come. A
Distance from Avalon: Strange Beast will be the next
novel and I’ve already started writing it. The cover art, once again by
Nazar Germanov, is already created.
or Play Basketball - again, your sources of inspiration?
The Rocky series
of movies is probably the biggest inspiration but there are also some
sports stories such as Breaking Away, a 1979 film
with a tandem bicycle race as its climax. As I describe in the
“About the Author” section of the novel, there is the 1996 story of
Roy Jones jr who played a minor league basketball game during the day
and defended his boxing title later that same night. “Sweet”
Sugar Brown I see as “Big” George Foreman in a bad mood.
or Play Basketball is very testerone-fuelled in its approach, to the
point where it actually feels a tad retro - so to what extent does that
reflect your personal attitude towards sports?
sports always seem to bring out those traditional emotions of passion,
jealousy, rage, need for approval and acceptance, etc. “Sweet” Sugar
Brown and “Punch” Pangora and the backdrop of Sweet’s Sweat Box Gym
provide an element of athletics that Jack didn’t know even existed until
he takes his first trip to the gym.
one of my first “off-campus apartments” – which was actually a
three-family house – while in college in Providence, I remember going into
the basement to discover a heavy bag holding on by a thread to the
basement ceiling, a well-worn bench press, and an assortment of various
dumbbells. Also scattered about were a small boom box and a
collection of audiotapes, such as the Rocky IV soundtrack.
The two brothers that lived on the second floor of the house I lived in put this
dank little basement gym together, and they allowed me to use it.
on the novel now, I see how much the textures and nuances of the city of
Providence and the state of Rhode Island are prominent in the story. I
think it’s fair to say that the state of Rhode Island and Providence
Plantations is kind of perpetually retro, in ways that are both
frustrating and charming.
had to choose between fighting and playing basketball, what would you
pick, and why?
far as my own activity, I’d rather play basketball, simply out of not
wanting to be punched in the face. As a spectator, I do enjoy the NBA
playoffs and finals (go Celtics!) but if there’s a choice between
watching a big basketball game against a big mixed martial arts fight,
I’m more likely to watch MMA.
Do describe a writing session of yours,
and do you have any writing rituals or the like?
I get into a creative flow, I can write for several hours, several days in
a row. The hardest part of writing for me is just to settle down and
do it. Once I get started, I enjoy the process. I know many writers who
don’t actually like writing, or re-writing, and I can understand their
pain, but for myself I actually enjoy the creative writing process.
real rituals, except that I prefer typing to free hand.
what I know, after spending many years as a filmmaker, A Distance from
Avalon and Fight or Play Basketball are the first two actual
novels you've written - so what inspired this change of medium?
“worldwide situation” as I like to call it came just a few
months after I moved from Rhode Island to Florida. With the emphasis on
social distancing, it became hard if not impossible to meet many if any
new collaborators for filmmaking.
I realized that writing novels is something that I can do on my own. Most
of the public, or even those in a position of power in the film industry,
are not going to spend the time to actually read a screenplay, no matter
how good it is or how many awards it has won. However, the novel format seems
to be more approachable for many. The goal is that these novels eventually
lead somehow for the films to be made and if any opportunities arise,
well, the screenplay versions are already written.
I notided reading your novels was that they were full of description and
dialogue, but there was very little in terms of introspection of your
characters - so what can you tell us about this stylistic choice of yours,
and your writing style in general?
think that goes to the “show don’t tell” belief. If the actions
characters take and the words they speak to each other push the narrative
effectively, I suppose there’s less of a need to write from inside the
far as my writing style, my goal is for the reader to see, feel, and hear
a story in their mind’s eye while using the most efficient amount of
Distance from Avalon in particular, there are some
long expressions of dialogue, but this is mostly as the hosts seduce
their guests, so I think it works. I hope that the subtext or true
motivations of the characters reveal at some point to attuned readers.
In your opinion, what
are the main differences between writing prose and writing a screenplay?
more freedom in writing prose and less of an emphasis on hitting certain
bullet points in structure that screenplays are usually expected to have.
In addition, it’s a bit challenging to write prose knowing that the
results are required to fully satisfy the reader. There’s no director,
producer, actor or editor “to help” a novel’s vision as a
screenplay might have as an advantage.
a personal note, I’ve been frustrated for years that some of my better
screenplays, such as Wrestling with Sanity, God
is my Best Friend, Chris and the Coffee Girl, American
Luchador and Also Ran, have
not been fully financed and produced by now. Therefore, writing novels is
liberating in that I don’t have the burden of “seeking financing”
and “collaborators” to bring my visions to life.
your experiences with writing A Distance from Avalon and Fight
or Play Basketball, could you ever be persuaded to write another
novel, and maybe even one that's not based on a screenplay of yours? And
any other future projects you'd like to share?
been working on Bad Girls with Good Tattoos which
is now available as an Amazon Kindle Vella story, although yes, that one
was also a screenplay first. I’ll be adapting Bad
Girls with Good Tattoos into the traditional novel
platforms (hardcover, paperback, kindle) soon.
started the second installment A Distance from
Avalon: Strange Beast months ago but I put it on
pause in order to write Fight or Play Basketball. So I will have to get back to Avalon soon.
just released the short graphic novel of Wrestling
with Sanity on Amazon this week so it can be read
now. Also on Amazon, I just revised and rereleased my Art
and War of Directing Student, Low & No Budget Movies: A Primer for Creating and
Participating in Independent Films, Television & Webseries, which is non-fiction with the exception
of my original monologues for actors section that is included.
who inspire you?
Feeling lucky ?
Want to search for books by
The links below
will take you
just there !!!
Dan Millman wrote Way of the Peaceful Warrior,
which I’m overdue to read again. I listened to and enjoyed the audio
version of Matthew McConaughey’s Greenlights,
which is more of a memoir, but it reads like a fun and crazy novel.
Your favourite novels?
Confessions of an Unlikely Bodybuilder by Samuel
Wilson Fussell is probably my favorite novel. It has had a few false
starts to being a TV series or feature film. It’s a great read.
and of course, novels you really deplore?
can’t say I really have any novels that I deplore, Michael, simply
because if I start to read something and it doesn’t connect with me
after ten or twenty pages, I tend to just move on. Art is subjective. I
don’t expect to enjoy everything that’s out there nor do I expect
everyone to like my stuff either. Although that would be nice.
books' website, social media, whatever else?
easiest thing to connect to me is to visit
scroll to the bottom of the splash page where all of my social media links
are conveniently provided. Subscribe to Mike Messier
YouTube Channel (yes, that’s the name of the channel) has a lot of my
stuff such as Mike’s Instant Movie Reviews, my pro wrestling rants, and
my celebrity interviews and own original short films.
else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
currently have six titles up on Amazon, including the books we’ve
discussed today, and most of them are available on Amazon Kindle
Unlimited, meaning that subscribers to that platform can actually check
out my books as part of their membership at no additional charge. Of
course, even better is if people are inclined to buy one of my paperbacks
for your continued support of me and other independent creators, Michael.
for the interview!
Michael, I appreciate it.