Sci-fi author Michael Leon is in the hot seat today talking about his new novel, Cubeball.
During his virtual book tour, Michael will be awarding a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit his other tour stops and enter there, too!
I worked with national and international organisations as a business analyst in Australia and overseas. I authored many business books analysing the foodservice and food retail industry in Australia, Europe and Asia, as well as agribusiness global trends. I also ran a consultancy business that assisted Australian enterprises to develop new markets in Australia and overseas.
I commenced writing science fiction novels full time in 2009. It was a life-long interest of mine. I have written five novels - all exploring contemporary social issues in future speculative worlds. They are: Shadow Dance; Extinction; Cubeball; Titan Sages, and Alive. My novels blend speculative science, new age and poetry. Readers of novels such as Carl Sagan’s Contact would enjoy my novels.
Do you ever wish you were someone else? Who?
As a long-term admirer of all things science fiction, I have on many occasion wished to be one of the great authors of the past and present. Ray Bradbury springs immediately to mind, as he wrote one of the great first paragraphs in a science fiction book. Also given my passion for exploration both of our world (literally) and beyond our Earth (my imagination), I have occasionally wished I could be Kim Stanley Robinson, as he wrote the Mars trilogy. I'm convinced he really visited Mars on a secret mission, such was the realism of his story!
What did you do on your last birthday?
I journeyed to a lovely part of Australia, the Barossa Valley. It is the Bordeaux of Australia, nestled between a dozen or so small townships in South Australia. I spent a week there with my partner and we explored many of the wineries in the area and sampled the local food. Tres bon!
The editing side of writing is a painstaking process. Where writing the first draft takes me around 2 to 3 months, editing can be 3 to 4 times longer. I self-edit as many times as I can tolerate, before I hand it to my mentor. My fabulous mentor, Sam is a hard task master and I do dread the ‘sea of red ink’ she layers over my manuscript. But she provides me the tough love that I need to polish my draft to ever higher levels.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
Writer’s block comes and goes during every writer's journey. I’ve learnt to accept that it is a natural part of the writing process. But there are so many facets of a novelist’s routine that must be addressed, from writing and editing to marketing. When I tire of one, I turn to another. If it is a particularly severe dose of writer’s block, I turn to my other great passion – travel – particularly to France!
Please tell us about your latest release.
A naturally gifted ex-national champion and a savant with a computer-like mind compete against the world’s best in the 22nd century’s most popular sport - Cubeball - a chess-like, technology-enhanced, snooker of the future where the world stage is dominated by gambling, drugs and massive audiences.
Cubeball is a futuristic science fiction novel (90,000 words) that follows the life of Mickey Allen and his struggle to compete in the world's most popular sport. Mickey, a cubeball player with a natural and unique talent, is a one-time national champion - the youngest ever. Disillusioned by an industry dominated by illegal business dealings and technological enhancements, Mickey spends ten years in refuge on Mars until his drug-fuelled life reaches a point of homeless destitution.
Without means of subsistence, Mickey looks to his estranged sister Riley, a success in her own right in the cubeball industry, to bail him out and fund his return to Earth. Their shared past holds betrayals that drove Mickey to leave the industry. After some caveats to lift him out of his destructive drug haze, he forms an unlikely union with business-savvy Riley as his comtech, and Ludwig as his strategist - a savant with an uncanny gift for seeing the perfection of Mickey's game, inspired by his ability to recall the music of Beethoven.
Together, Mickey's new team seeks to compete on the world stage, a global industry dominated by Mickey's nemesis - his unscrupulous former manager, Johnnie Draxma. Johnnie is the shadow that dominates Mickey's origins in the game and the betrayal that fuels his destructive habits. Amongst high stakes and an audience of millions, Mickey must battle his own demons and those of his past, as he learns about truth, trust and friendship.
Excerpt from Cubeball:
At that moment Mickey knew he had to play his way and make a shot that would not be forgotten. He called “power-play.”
He imagined the perfect shot in his mind’s eye as he circled the table twice, deliberating his fateful shot. The balls loomed large, but strangely different. The table appeared more circular than a cube as he lowered his chin to his carbon steel cue. The whole shot played in his mind as he drew back the cue to strike the cue-ball with a force that engulfed the whole stadium.
The crack of the cue-ball as it struck its target echoed sharply its warning of an imminent tidal wave of spin and curve that would capture the imagination of every fan in the stadium, or at home in front of their cubebit. In one game changing savage strike, the red ball fell into the pocket as the cue-ball savagely spun into the red triangle, spreading the reds in all directions from the centrifugal force of the cue-ball. Mickey slotted twelve red and black combinations in four minutes, gaining an unassailable lead. He followed that with a perfect defensive stroke, leaving the cue-ball safely jammed behind yellow. Flaveau conceded the game and the match, shell-shocked by the unique high-spin attack Mickey had unleashed. The break was soon nicknamed ‘the pulsar’ and it had secured Mickey the first semi-final win and a shot at the world title.
Thanks for being here today, Michael. Happy writing.