Michael Mammay is joining us today to talk about his novel, The Misfit Soldier. Here’s the publisher’s description:
Ocean’s Eleven meets John Scalzi in this funny, action-filled, stand-alone sci-fi adventure from the author of Planetside, in which a small team of misfit soldiers takes on a mission that could change the entire galaxy.
Sergeant Gastovsky—Gas to everyone but his superior officers—never wanted to be a soldier. Far from it. But when a con goes wrong and he needs a place to lay low for a while, he finds himself wearing the power armor of the augmented infantry.
After three years on a six-year contract, Gas has found his groove running low-level cons and various illegal activities that make him good money on the side. He’s the guy who can get you what you need. But he’s always had his eye out for a big score—the one that might set him up for life after the military.
When one of his soldiers is left behind after a seemingly pointless battle, Gas sees his chance. He assembles a team of misfit soldiers that would push the term “ragtag” to its limits for a big con that leads them on a daring behind-the-lines mission, pitting him not only against enemy soldiers but against the top brass of his own organization.
If he pulls this off, not only will he save his squadmate, he might just become the legend he’s always considered himself. He might also change the way the entire galaxy looks at this war. But for any of that to happen, he has to live through this insane plan.
And charm rarely stops bullets.
What’s Michael’s favorite bit?
I never really meant to write this book. Wait…that sounds bad. Let me explain. No, there’s too much. Let me sum up. It was 2016 and I was on submission with my first novel, Planetside, and that was…how do you say it…slow. Everybody tells you to write something new while you wait, and I wanted to listen. I really did. The problem is, I really can’t focus in situations like that. So then somebody—I forget who it was—told me to write anything. It didn’t have to be a novel or even a story. Just anything as long as I was writing. So I wrote this three-hundred word piece of flash fiction where two soldiers are having a joking conversation about space whales.
The premise of it was that one guy was saying he wouldn’t go on a mission, because he didn’t want to get eaten by a space whale. The other guy—the straight man, if you will—insisted that there were no such thing as space whales, to which the first guy responded, “Yeah. That’s exactly what the space whales want you to think. They’ve got a surprisingly strong public relations arm. Then, you’re out there just minding your own business, and WHAM! Fucking space whale.”
It made my friends laugh. And I started noodling around and wrote part of a first act that featured these two soldiers, but I didn’t really have a plan. Back then I was a 100% seat-of-the-pants writer. I didn’t outline anything.
When Planetside sold, I put that book away. I had a two book deal, so I had to write the second book, and then I signed a new deal for the third book in that trilogy and a book to be named later. All of a sudden we’re three or four years down the road, and I pitch a book to my editor to be my fourth, and he rejects it. So I started thinking about that scene and decided I wanted to make it into a book. That’s right. I outlined an entire book so that I could include a three-hundred-word joke about space whales.
And they bought it.
Not going to lie, I didn’t see that coming. A lot changed as I wrote the book, but the one constant? The space whale joke. I did add a third person to the scene—an innocent rookie—but the space whale diatribe itself escaped pretty much unscathed. The two original characters? They’re now Gas Gastovsky and his side kick Putty, and they’re the two main characters in the book. They do a lot of wild things and have a lot of stupid conversations—Putty is pretty much incapably of having a conversation that isn’t ridiculous—but the space whale discussion scene is still my favorite bit.
Michael Mammay is a former soldier, former teacher, and now a full-time science fiction writer and usually pens stories featuring soldiers, even if they aren’t always doing what they’re supposed to. After completing his debut series, the Planetside trilogy, he has turned his attention to stand-alone novels, of which The Misfit Soldier is the first. Michael lives with his wife in Georgia.