I typed in your name on Amazon.com and got a whole list of items with the name Michael Bertolini, however, after looking a little further, it appeared that it appeared your work is distinct from the Michael Bertolini involved in “Star Blazers.” Is that correct, and have you been asked this question before?
I have no connection with “Star Blazers” and to be honest I’ve never heard of it until you asked me. I’ve come to find that there are a lot of other Michael Bertolini’s out there; Michael is a very common name for boys born in 1984 and Bertolini seems to appear in all regions of Italy and indeed the US.
Tell me about your background with writing. What inspires you, who are your influences?
I started writing when I was in the sixth grade. My first story (which I envisioned at the time to be a potentially bestselling novel but was only about thirteen pages long) was a sci-fi fantasy and a Young Adult Author that visited my school enjoyed reading it. (I wish I could remember her name but I can’t).
Can you tell us a little bit more about “The Cold Tower?”
“The Cold Tower” was written originally because I needed to develop a back story for my character, Amras Oronar, for my Dungeons and Dragons group. The story, which was about half the length of the current book but with a similar story structure, focused entirely on Amras; the idea of Isla didn’t come until I started writing the new version. Also, because the original story concept was based off of D&D material I needed to do a mass overhaul of many ideas. The fantastical creatures, characters, and magic are all inspired by the works of Tolkien, Pierce, and Greek mythology.
The characters of Zara and Page came about as I was writing. I take place in an online contest every November called National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo for short) and it focuses on writing 50,000 words in thirty days. In the period of time the story begins to develop on its own, spawning new characters and plot twists just to keep moving to that 50,000+ word count.
And “The Shadow Road?”
“The Shadow Road” was the natural continuation of TCT. Not only does it pick up where the first book left off, but it introduces the world (and in some respects myself) to the grander world of Scyllia. Characters such as Fingon Darkleaf, who only had a supporting role in the first book, develop their own story lines that add to dynamics of the adventure.
I wrote this during the 2009 NaNoWriMo competition while I was editing the second draft of “The Cold Tower” which is why I was able to release this title just over four months after the first.
What was your experience like working with Createspace?
Despite what others had written on the site’s message boards about difficulty using the company I found it very easy to manage. They set up everything and explain the Print-On-Demand process extremely well. Compared to similar places I had looked into years ago Createspace is very cost effective which, from the perspective of a first time author, is essential. Other places asked the author to pay advances which, should the title be successful, would be reimbursed in the future. Createspace takes a percentage out of the price of the book, as would any publisher, and the rest is paid to me.
What have the sales/reception been like?
I wasn’t sure what to expect, to be honest. However, “The Cold Tower” sold very well with little more than word-of-mouth marketing. A few stores allowed me to put up advertisements for the book and I even managed to convince a couple of libraries to purchase and carry the title.
The people that have read it, especially people that read the book because it was suggested to them (but they would normally never pick it up) has been fantastic. The biggest complement I have gotten from readers is that it is vivid and draws the reader into the world.
I saw that you received a review from Apex Reviews. Is that a pay for review site? How effective was that as a marketing strategy?
It is a pay for review site but it wasn’t that expensive and with reviews from them, and other reviewers, posted on amazon.com and shelfari.com it helps promote the book at a very cost efficient price. Since most review companies charge to review books I don’t feel that the book got a better review just because I paid for it.
Do you have a link to the Apex review? I couldn't find it on their web page.
Not at the moment. They’re still working on a video add for “The Cold Tower” which will be followed by an author interview.
Who designed the covers for your books?
I did. The cover for “The Cold Tower” was a composite of photographs from different places. The sky in the background was actually made from multiple cloud photos. For “The Shadow Road” I drew the inverted cross and skull myself before coloring and shaping it in Photoshop.
What kind of thing can one expect to find on your blog?
On my website’s blog I tend to post more about my writing that anything else while on Facebook I post about more everyday stuff, movies, etc.
Is there anything else about you we should know?
This is the hardest question to answer; almost as bad as describe yourself in a paragraph. I’m an artist at heart; I write, I draw, I play music, I’ve even tried to paint unsuccessfully-I plan to keep creating things as long as I can.