Interview With…. Russ Colchamiro, author of Genius De Milo

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Today I am featuring author, Russ Colchamiro. Russ is the author of the rollicking space adventure Crossline, the hilarious scifi backpacking comedy Finders Keepers, and the outrageous sequel, Genius de Milo, all with Crazy 8 Press.

Russ lives in West Orange, NJ, with his wife, two children, and crazy dog, Simon, who may in fact be an alien himself. Russ is now at work on the final book in the Finders Keepers trilogy.

As a matter of full disclosure, readers should not be surprised if Russ spontaneously teleports in a blast of white light followed by screaming fluorescent color and the feeling of being sucked through a tornado. It’s just how he gets around — windier than the bus, for sure, but much quicker.

Russ Colchamiro

Russ, thanks for being here today. Please Tell our readers about you
From the outside looking in I’m a sci-fi comedy writer, married, with 4-year-old twins – my little ninjas – and a transplanted New Yorker now living in suburban New Jersey.

However … I know there have been rumors floating around that I may in fact be a fugitive from another dimension, with the intergalactic agency in charge of such matters hot on my trail, looking to drag me back to where I’ll face my day of reckoning.

I don’t like to engage in this kind of unsubstantiated gossip, so for now let’s just say that when I’m not writing my goofy books I’m a former journalist turned PR guy working in the commercial real estate industry, mostly in New York City. And I have a crazy dog, Simon.

What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My alarm clock! 🙂 But seriously … I adore my kids – a boy and a girl. They keep me on my toes. And I’m always thinking about my next book, or finding the right way to tell the story I’m working on. I may be an addict! But if so … no rehab for me. I’m a lifer.

If you could hang out with one famous person for one day, who would it be and why?
Albert Einstein. Beyond his obvious scientific brilliance, he had a wonderful sense of humor, and philosopher’s approach to life and the Universe. I’d love to know what he thinks about the modern world compared to what he thought it might be at this point.

What’s the story behind your latest book?
My debut novel Finders Keepers is a scifi backpacking comedy, loosely based on a series of backpacking trips I took through Europe and New Zealand, set against a quest for a jar that contains the Universe’s DNA.

My newest book, Genius de Milo, is the second book in the trilogy, where our bumbling backpacking heroes Jason Medley and Theo Barnes are once again tasked with retrieving a radioactive jar filled with the Universe’s DNA … before it wipes out the galaxy.

Genius de Milo (and Finders Keepers) is for fans of authors such as Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, and Christopher Moore, and movies and TV shows such as Harold & Kumar, Bill & Ted, Hot Tub Time Machine, Time Bandits, Quantum Leap, Groundhog Day, Northern Exposure, and Third Rock from the Sun.

And whereas Finders Keepers was set predominantly in Europe and New Zealand, the action in Genius de Milo has shifted mostly to the U.S. And, of course, there’s lots going on in Eternity, the ‘cosmic’ realm where the Universe is created.

So for Genius de Milo, think Midnight Run meets Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

As the second book in the series, I wrote Genius de Milo with the understanding that it needed to work on three levels:

  • as a satisfying, self-contained novel that new readers can enjoy even if they haven’t read Finders Keepers
  • as the second novel in the Finders Keepers trilogy that both continues and enhances the overall narrative and individual story arcs
  • structurally as a lead-in to the final, upcoming novel that will conclude the trilogy

Awesome. Tell us your writing process
I sit at my computer and type words. And then hope I put them in the right order. Before that happens, though, I talk the story out loud. I try to get inside the minds of each of the characters, and see where that takes me. The parts inevitably fall into place. And then about half way through the novel I realize I have this crazy adventure to figure out and I really have to focus!

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
Mostly since I was a kid, but certainly by the time I was in high school. I loved English class because it gave me a chance to be a wise-ass and get approval both from my teachers and students. I’m not saying I was a great (or even good) writer back then, but I knew I was on to something.

Tell us about your main character:
A: There’s actually two. When we first meet Jason Medley and Theo Barnes in Finders Keepers, they’re both in their early 20s, with Jason from New York and Theo from New Zealand — from opposite corners of the world and with entirely different personalities. Jason is kind of a nervous Nellie, with no idea how to get himself from one place to the next. But Theo is more mellow, and an experienced traveler. They meet unexpectedly in Venice, and become fast friends.

Yet while still in New Zealand, Theo found a jar that causes these hallucinogenic side effects he can’t explain. (The jar contains the Universe’s DNA, but he only discovers that much later). In any case, it makes him feel like he’s winding through the fabric of the Universe, so he’s compelled to find answers, and finds his way to Europe.

Jason knows none of this when they first meet in Venice, but by the time their adventure is over, they’ve pretty much saved the Milky Way from disaster.

In Genius de Milo, which picks up a few years after that, the Universe is fluxing in and out of Existence, Theo’s twin three-year-old girls are teleporting, and Jason can’t tell which version of his life is real. That’s because Milo – the Universe’s gremlin — got his hands on that jar of DNA and is causing mayhem.

So now Jason and Theo are trekking across America to put things right, and keep Milo from destroying the planet. Along the way they are joined by Jamie — a hotel clerk from Eternity — who may or may not be on their side.

In Genius de Milo Theo is now a family, but he still has that travel bug in him. He almost always wishes he was still going on adventures across the globe, so he’s not as focused on the here and now as he should be. But because of that adventurer’s spirit — and the temperament to just kind of roll with the punches if those journeys don’t go according to plan — he’s able to keep them on track, even when he and Jason veer way off course. Which happens quite a lot!

Yet Jason is far more grounded, and in fact is about to propose to his girlfriend. He’s building a career as a journalist, and genuinely wants to help other people. But he still inherently seeks the approval of others, and has trouble trusting that he’s on the right path. What confuses him most — but may in fact be his greatest asset given the predicament they are in — is that despite his generally conservative nature he seems to be in tune with the shifts in the Universe.

What I mean is that he’s really quite intuitive about the sense that things aren’t ‘quite right’, and even though he’s not sure what that means, and that nobody other than Theo could possibly understand him, he’s learning to trust those instincts more, and make decisions accordingly. And sometimes that means sacrificing what he wants for what others need.

What are you working on next?
The final book in the Finders Keepers trilogy. My plan is to have it ready for fall 2016.

Do you have any special/extraordinary talents?
It turns out that I had Lyme Disease, likely for at least 25 years. Whereas with most people they get some sort of debilitating joint pain, I had what was the equivalent of chronic fatigue syndrome. I was always exhausted. And yet I lived with it for so long that I powered through anyway. Nobody believes me when I tell them about my symptoms. Despite my exhaustion I was still plugging away from 5 am til midnight almost every night. So I guess I just have a stubborn will to ignore my own fatigue. I was diagnosed with Lyme January 2014 and was on antibiotics and supplements for a year. I seem to be symptom free. It’s a strange experience. But so far so good.

Who are your favorite authors?
Christopher Moore, Kurt Vonnegut, Chuck Palahniuk, David McCullough

What do you like to do with your free time?
Free time? What’s that?! But when I get a rare minute … sleep, take naps, and rest. In that order. Otherwise, travel, read, watch TV, movies, be with my wife and kids. And I’m a baseball junkie.

Tell us about your plans for upcoming books.
After I finish off the Finders Keepers trilogy, I have an idea for a baseball-themed sci-fi novel, a children’s book series, a Finders Keepers spin-off series, and something else that I can’t talk about just yet. In between I’ll be contributing to a Crazy 8 Press alternate-reality anthology called Pangaea, which we funded through Kickstarter. It’s due out fall 2015.

Any final thoughts?
Shameless plug! Buy my books! :p

For More Information

About the Book

Genius De Milo 2

Title: Genius De Milo
Author: Russ Colchamiro
Publisher: Crazy 8 Press
Pages: 320
Genre: SciFi/Comedy
Format: Paperback/Kindle

Best pals Jason Medley and Theo Barnes barely survived a backpacking trip through Europe and New Zealand that — thanks to a jar of Cosmic Building Material they found — almost wiped out the galaxy. But just as they envision a future without any more cosmic lunacy:

The Earth has started fluxing in and out of existence, Theo’s twin girls are teleporting, and Jason can’t tell which version of his life is real.

All because of Milo, the Universe’s ultimate gremlin.

Joined by the mysterious Jamie — a down-and-out hotel clerk from Eternity — Jason and Theo reunite on a frantic, cross-country chase across America, praying they can retrieve that jar, circumvent Milo, and save the Earth from irrevocable disaster.

In author Russ Colchamiro’s uproarious sequel to Finders Keepers, he finally confirms what we’ve long suspected — that there’s no galactic Milo quite like a Genius de Milo.

For More Information

Book Excerpt

Jason’s smile dropped away, replaced with a silent, open-mouthed slug of resignation, that whatever was happening was authentic, and unfolding in real time.

In a shared-brain moment Jason and Theo slowly panned in Jamie’s direction until finally she felt their accusatorial eyes lock on her. And though neither of them spoke, the imputation of blame came through with perfect enunciation: What did you do? What’s coming?

But what could she say? Which cluster of words could encapsulate both the scope and nuance of their predicament? Jamie could offer a pretty good guess as to why their immediate surroundings morphed before their very eyes—it had to be Brigsby-related, didn’t it?—but when it came to the what, she was equally mystified.

So all she could do was stand there. She blinked a few times. Then a few times more. The night went bracingly still, as if every fractal of sound had been drained from the Universe. The three of them held in place, petrified, as if the incredible forces converging upon them were seemingly just to be unleashed. Which, of course, they were.


Posted on May 21, 2015, in Guest Authors, Interviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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