Thursday, March 4, 2010

Stabbed in Stanzas Feature Author: Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri won the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement for a First Novel for his book, Deadliest of the Species. He’s a martial artist living in Illinois.

KLN: You study Shuri-ryu Karate. How is that different from the forms portrayed in the movies? What belt do you hold? Do you ever have any of your characters in your work have that skill set? If no, will you in future works?

MO: On the surface, most karate styles are similar in terms of their emphasis on single-strike elimination of an opponent, development of technique through kata, and their roots as an Okinawan fighting style. Too look at them from the outside, such as to observe the fighting you would see in a movie, karate is karate. Getting deeper, karate styles primarily differ in their lineage, their kata, and their emphasis on technique. Shuri-ryu as a style was founded by an American, Robert A. Trias, who is credited with opening the first karate school in the mainland United States in 1946. Like any style, we have our own set of kata we practice and our own interpretations of them, and we also incorporate some Judo into our curriculum (Grand Master Trias was a 6th degree black belt in Judo and felt grappling was important). I’ve been studying Shuri-ryu for about three years now, and I’m currently a second-degree brown belt. I’m working on earning first-degree brown belt this year. I have not yet incorporated karate into any of my writing, but I intend to very soon.

KLN: Most writers set their stories where they live or are from, in your case, Illinois. Yet your latest book, The Pack: Winter Kill, is set in Minnesota. Why?

MO: I established the Tylers’ lodge in the comic Werewolves: Call of the Wild and it made more sense to place that lodge in Minnesota than Illinois. Once you get out of the river valleys, Illinois is largely a pancake. When the crops are down, I can see for miles from my back yard. That said, the first graphic novel in the series, Chimaera, takes place in a fictional college in Illinois. The protagonist of that book will be Diana, the only sister of the Tyler boys from Winter Kill.

KLN: Why did you become fascinated with the werewolf mythos, especially in the vampire-crazed culture of today?

MO: I’ve always been a fan of werewolves, even when I was a kid. Vampires are more or less people with fangs, while werewolves struck me as more monstrous and scary. The vampires have the spotlight now, but I think werewolves are due.

KLN: You were part of a web serial. Please inform our readers about that experience. Would you be interested in being involved in a similar project in the future? Why or why not?

MO: I enjoyed working on Muy Mal with Weston Ochse and John Urbancik. Keeping up with the story kept me busy, and it helped develop a routine. However, once I fell behind and then had to focus on the paying work, I had to step away from it and unfortunately I had to leave one storyline hanging. I wouldn’t be opposed to doing it again, but at this point I’d have to find a way to monetize it to make it worthwhile, and I would also plan a little farther ahead, probably writing several chapters before launch so I have some cushion when life and/or other projects get in the way.

KLN: You write about computer issues in several technology publications. Do you have a technical degree or are you self-taught?

MO: I have a two-year degree in General Studies, but I never took any computer courses. I took journalism and marketing classes, but soon realized I’d need a lot more schooling to be successful at either. I did tech work for my father’s customers and for a local high school when I went back to college, and that same high school created a full-time position when I graduated. I took that opportunity and have been working in tech ever since.

KLN: You’ve collaborated with Brian Keene on several stories. Tell us about that experience. How did you determine to work together? With whom else would you be interested in working?

MO: Brian and I were part of a group that hung out in the old HorrorNet chat room in the late ‘90s, and we became good friends. The 4x4 collaborations with Brian, Geoff Cooper, Mike Huyck and I just sort of happened, and Brian and I felt our styles fit well together. The process was very smooth, and that led to “Crazy for You” a short time later. I worked with Mike Huyck on another story, and later with J.F. Gonzalez on Restore from Backup, a novella inspired in part by our experiences in the tech field. I’ve since been approached by a few other friends for collaborations, but I just haven’t had the time to make them happen. Collaborations are not something I actively seek out because I have my hands full with solo projects.

KLN: Thank you for agreeing to this interview. I appreciate your time. Is there anything additional you’d like to share with our readers?

MO: Any time! Thank you for the interview. If readers would like to keep up with my latest work, whether it’s my writing or my karate, I can be found on the web at or on Twitter at

(The Black Glove thanks Mike Oliveri for his time and effort)