Russ Colchamiro is an author specializing in the genre he calls “Cosmic Lunacy,” juxtaposing the foibles of daily life against the comical mysteries of the Universe. His latest novel, Genius de Milo, is the second book in his Finders Keepers sci-fi backpacking trilogy. He also is the author of the rollicking space adventure Crossline, 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.
For more on Genius de Milo and Russ’ other wacky tales, you can visit
Congratulations on the release of your latest book, Genius de Milo. When did you start writing and what got you into sci-fi comedy?
I started tinkering around with stories in the 4th grade, and then dove in a bit more seriously in high school. There were lots of fits and starts with fiction, but as a career I transitioned from being a high school English teacher to a journalist, and have been working in the media now in various capacities for 20 years. As for sci-fi comedy, well … I’ve always had this very wacked out element of my personality juxtaposed with my more serious self, which I think is reflected in my writing.
You must answer this question: What is your book about?
My debut novel Finders Keepers is 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. I tried to give Finders Keepers a travelogue feel so that readers could put themselves on the ground — a you are there experience — even with all this cosmic lunacy unfolding all around it. Genius de Milo is the first sequel in this series, and even with the galaxy in peril in the first book, the stakes are even higher in Genius de Milo.
Who is your target audience?
Fans of Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, Christopher Moore, and Tom Robbins, among others. I’m not comparing myself to those great writers, but other people have, which I take as such a tremendous compliment. I’m a little naughtier than Pratchett and Adams, and more sci-fi than Christopher Moore. But if you like those writers, I’d say Genius de Milo is for you. Also, if movies and TV shows such as Harold & Kumar, Groundhog Day, Bill & Ted, Hot Tub Time Machine, and Third Rock from the Sun are up your alley, there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy my comedies as well.
What do you hope readers will get from your book?
Fundamentally my books are about trying to enjoy life as much as you can, as thoroughly as you can, as often as you can, because to me the Universe is a crazy, mysterious, whacked-out place and — at least as far as I can tell — we’ll never truly discover what it’s all about. So I hope my books inspire a sense of wanting to really live while we have the chance, whatever ‘living’ means for you as an individual. Beyond that … I want to put a smile on your face. My books are meant to be fun and funny. Genius de Milo was written from that place.
How do you keep your narrative exciting?
No matter what story I’m writing, I treat each tale like it’s a mystery, where I reveal, conceal, and reveal some more. I treat virtually every chapter like it’s a mini cliff-hanger, so readers are chomping at the bit to find out what’s next. I love the narrative flow of a good comic book storyline — you can read each issue in about 15 minutes — and if done well you’re going crazy waiting for the next issue. That’s how I approach a novel. I want readers to have a great time.
Many writers experience a vague anxiety before they sit down to right. Can you relate to this?
Definitely. And not really. Here’s why. I’m usually quite confident going in that I’ve “got” the story. Starting is actually quite easy for me, as I take lots of notes, do some ‘pre-writing’ and do basic outlines. So by the time I’m really clacking the keys, I’m ready to go. And yet … somewhere about a third or half way through the manuscript, the story has evolved organically and suddenly I’m freaking out because I’ve come up with all these crazy angles I hadn’t anticipated and don’t know how I’m going to weave it all together! But then I calm down and get back to work. I tend to do many, many rounds of revisions to pull it all together, but the process works for me.
What do you love most about the writer’s life?
Being a writer isn’t just what I do, but who I am. I love the writing process itself. Clacking the keys, doing revisions … letting these crazy ideas flow from the ether and out through my fingertips. Maybe I’m an addict, I’m not really sure, but at my most basic level I’m happiest when I’m writing and grumpiest when I’m not! Writing isn’t so much a choice for me, as a calling. I simply have to do it. Aside from being with my children, nothing energizes me as much as when I’m writing.
Do you have a website or blog where readers can find out more about your work?
Readers can find me at www.russcolchamiro.com, through www.crazy8press.com, as well as on my Facebook author page — www.facebook.com/RussColchamiroAuthor –Twitter at @authorduderuss, and Goodreads. My books are also available for purchase through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.
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