An Interview with Author M.G. Edwards

Books & Writing – An Interview with Author M.G. Edwards

By Jacco, on February 16th, 2012

Hello again!

This time I am talking to author M.G. Edwards who grew up in the rural western United States, where the beautiful scenery inspired him to let his imagination run and to write. He loved to write fantasies, mysteries, and stories for young adults. After he finished high school, he postponed his dream to become an author and went to college to study business and international studies. He worked in the private sector for companies like Boeing and Intel and later joined the U.S. Department of State. The experiences he had as an American diplomat in Africa, Asia, and South America inspired him to write travel adventures. His passion to write rekindled, he decided in 2011 to leave the diplomatic corps and write full time. Last year he published a collection of short stories called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories and is now writing a book called Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill about his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain. Kilimanjaro will be released in March 2012. He now lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife and young son and is living his dream.

Books & Writing: Do you remember the first story you wrote?

M.G. Edwards: When I was ten years old, my teacher asked our class to write tall tales in small groups and present them in class. Some groups chose to tell the story of Paul Bunyan and other well-known legends. Inspired by the 1981 eruption of Mount St. Helens, I wrote a tale called “How Little Big Chief Calmed the Mountain.” Featured in my book Real Dreams, the story tells of how Little Big Chief made the ultimate sacrifice — offering what was most precious to him to appease an angry volcano. The role of Little Big Chief went to a good friend with cerebral palsy. His amazing performance is one of my fondest childhood memories.

Books & Writing: Were you inspired by someone or something?

M.G. Edwards: The beauty of the area where I grew up — the mountains, forests, rivers and lakes — inspired me to write. I’m also grateful to the teachers who assigned school projects that unleashed my creativity and gave me the freedom to transform them into fantastic stories. One teacher asked the class to turn a list of vocabulary words into a short story, so I wrote “G.I. Ants,” another story featured in Real Dreams about a group of superhuman army ants that escape from a military laboratory.

Books & Writing: What do you love about writing a story?

M.G. Edwards: I enjoy letting my mind wander and bringing ideas to life for readers to enjoy. I love to write books and stories that leave readers with something to ponder.

Books & Writing: How do you overcome writer’s block (if you experience this, of course)?

M.G. Edwards: Whenever writer’s block hits me, I take a “constitutional,” which is a fancy word for a “think” break. I take a walk, go on a short bicycle ride, or read a book. I take a notepad and pen with me so that I can write down any inspirations or breakthroughs that come to mind. I do what I can to get my mind off writing so that I feel refreshed when I write again.

Books & Writing: Can you tell us a bit about your book “Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories”?

M.G. Edwards: My pleasure! Real Dreams features 15 short stories I wrote between 1981 and 2011. The book is a story sampler. The stories reflect changes in my writing style and interests over time, and I grouped them by genre to help readers identify each style. Many share themes of hope, dreams, light, darkness, and perseverance. It’s quite an eclectic collection.

Books & Writing: What attracts you in short stories?

M.G. Edwards: I enjoy short stories that make me think and challenge me to ponder their deeper meanings. I love stories that make great movies. My hope is that some of the stories in Real Dreams will leave readers saying, “That would make a great movie!”

Books & Writing: I understand you will soon release the book “Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill,” which is about your attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa. First off, why did you decide to attempt that? And secondly, what made you decide to write a book about it?

M.G. Edwards: Thanks for asking. My wife climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in 2010 and inspired me to attempt my own climb the following year. At the time, I was approaching middle age and felt a mid-life crisis coming on, so I decided to do something challenging to jump start my life — climb Africa’s highest mountain. At almost 6,000 meters (over 19,000 feet), Kilimanjaro is one of the world’s tallest peaks. Although the mountain is technically easier to climb than its peers, it’s very difficult for would-be mountain climbers like me. I decided to write a book about my climb for those who have tackled Kilimanjaro or aspire to climb it. It’s a book for anyone who feels “over the hill” and needs some encouragement to make a major life change in the face of difficult odds. The book will be published in March 2012. Visit the Kilimanjaro web page to sign up for my newsletter, and I’ll update you when the book is published.

Books & Writing: Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

M.G. Edwards: Follow your passion. If you have a passion for writing, strive to become the best writer you can be and stay the course. For those pursuing traditional publishing, I recommend finding the right agent and focus on writing with them in mind. Your agent will help sell your book to publishers. For those who self-publish, be sure to spend time marketing your books through social media sites such as Twitter or Facebook. However, don’t forget to strike a balance between writing and marketing. There’s no better marketing tool than a great novel.

Books & Writing: Which author inspires you?

M.G. Edwards: Khaled Hosseini is an inspiration to me. His books The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns are among the best contemporary works I’ve read. Born in Afghanistan, his family fled to the United States when he was a youth. He’s an incredibly talented writer. That he writes such beautiful prose in his second language, English, is amazing. Not only is he a bestselling author, Hosseini is also an accomplished physician and a Goodwill Envoy for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). His efforts to raises awareness of Afghani culture and improve the lives of the people of Afghanistan are admirable.

Books & Writing: Where can people go and read your work?

M.G. Edwards: My books are available to purchase in print or e-book format from many sellers, including Amazon, Apple iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Kobo Books, and Smashwords. Readers can also purchase books from my web site, Links to other booksellers that carry my books are available at my online bookstore, The Wordshop.

Books & Writing: Where can people find you on internet?

M.G. Edwards: My home on the internet,, is where you’ll find links to my blog, books and stories, travelogues, travel videos and photos, and more. Contact me at, on Facebook, or Google+, or on Twitter as @m_g_edwards. I would be happy to connect with you.

Books & Writing: Is there anything else you want to share with the readers?

M.G. Edwards: Thank you, dear readers, for reading my books and stories. It means a lot to me. My books Real Dreams and Kilimanjaro are the first of many to come. Stay tuned for more travelogues in the World Adventurers Series and books in the fantasy/science fiction and mystery thriller genres.

The original interview has been reposted here courtesy of Books & Writing, a web site dedicated to interviewing authors. To read this and other authors’ interviews, visit Book & Writing.

Elements of a Book Phenomenon (Part One)

I recently read Mockingjay, the final book in The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. The trilogy is the latest book sensation to follow on the heels of two other blockbuster series, The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer and the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. I read all three series in order to understand why they became runaway hits—and for fun, of course. As anyone not named Rip Van Winkle knows, Harry Potter became a cultural phenomenon with books, movies, and a litany of tie-ins. Twilight is well on its way to doing the same, although its popularity may wind down after part two of the movie Breaking Dawn hits theaters in November 2012.

The newest book sensation to take hold in popular culture seems to be The Hunger Games. With the first movie adaptation set to release in March 2012, the trilogy may catch fire like its protagonist, Katniss Everdeen, did in the Hunger Games. Some believe that The Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson featuring Lisbeth Salander, the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, was the next mega-series to follow Twilight. It has a large international following and not one, but two, movie adaptations. I would argue, however, that although it has elements of a book phenomenon, The Millennium Trilogy has not quite crossed over to literary immortality (except in Sweden, perhaps). That the movie version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo starring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara was a disappointment at the box office supports my assumption.

Why do some book series, like The Millennium Trilogy, become bestsellers, while a few, like The Twilight Saga, become phenomena? What sets Harry Potter, a book series that Wikipedia estimated earned more than $450 million and counting (excluding the films), apart from R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps novels that have grossed more than $350 million to date? Or The Hunger Games from another series some have compared to it, Gone by Michael Grant? Some books become bestsellers, even blockbusters, but never cross the nebulous line to cultural sensation. Movie adaptations play a role in whether a book series becomes a phenomenon, although many bestsellers are made into film but do not redefine popular culture. Having a large publishing company willing to sell licensing rights to hype a series helps, but it does not explain how some books catch fire while others fizzle. For those who are skeptical that a series like Twilight should be considered a phenomenon, keep in mind that a book does not have to be critically acclaimed to be a phenomenon; it has to influence popular culture. Based on this standard, Twilight certainly has.

If you are an author planning to write the Next Great Novel, how do you write a series that will become a book phenomenon? I have not written one and cannot draw from my own experience to tell you how to do it, but I have read and studied many series that became book sensations. Here’s an obvious trajectory for bestselling book series. The first novel must become a bestseller with each successive novel building a larger audience. Once the books become a commercial success, movie adaptations attract a wider following and reinforce the books’ messages. What transforms these series into phenomena, however, is the final phase in their evolution—they build a reciprocal relationship with popular culture, become synonymous with it, and redefine it. Consider the words “Hogwarts,” “muggles,” “Voltari,” and “imprint.” Each has made its way from the pages of Harry Potter or Twilight into the popular lexicon. A book series becomes a phenomenon when other books and media copy its formula, echoing the same themes as the original. Most copycats, however, never replicate the success of the original. The proliferation of paranormal romances, from vampires to fairy tales, is a result of Twilight’s impact on culture. None are as successful.

In addition to the series I mentioned above, others as diverse as The Godfather, Gone With The Wind, and Lord of the Rings have become book phenomena. Each draws heavily on cultural themes that capture readers’ imaginations and renders images into a strong story that, in turn, shapes popular culture. The Godfather by Mario Puzo drew from images of mafia families in New York and Italy and distilled them into a masterpiece that redefined in our minds what it meant to be a mobster. Gone With The Wind captured the imaginations of Depression-era audiences that recalled the American Civil War in the years before World War II. Many saw the idyllic world of southern plantations as a way to escape their own; the triumphs and tragedies of the protagonists, Scarlett and Rhett, mirrored readers own lives. Loosely based on geopolitics during the era of fascism and World War II, The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings defined the fantasy genre for generations to come. Virtually every fantasy written since then has at least some elements of Tolkien’s Middle Earth.

Now, it’s time for The Hunger Games. This intriguing series touches on contemporary themes of modern warfare, the media, and reality television, and combines them with society’s infatuation with post-apocalyptic worlds. Few aspects of Collins’ books are original, but the way in which she turns popular images and ideas into a compelling story reverberates in a way that may transform it into the next book phenomenon. Whether The Hunger Games crosses over to literary immortality depends on how its movie adaptation performs at the box office. If ticket sales are disappointing, as is highly unlikely, it could go the way of Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle, a book series whose upward trajectory was cut short by a poorly made film.

I have identified some key elements a book series should have in order to become a book phenomenon. Stay tuned for part two, where I discuss these elements in detail.

This is part one of a two-part series examining what transforms a book series into a phenomenon. Click here for part two of the series.

M.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He recently published a collection of short stories called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories available as an ebook and in print on His upcoming book, Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, will be released on March 31, 2012. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

© 2012 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.


It Starts with an Idea

An author who sold several best sellers and millions of books once shared some insights into becoming a successful author.  They indicated that the book has to be well written, professional looking, with a good product description, and for sale at the right price.  With a bit of luck, these attributes can help make a book a commercial success.

What the author neglected to add was that successful writing starts with a good idea.  Anyone can copy the latest literary trend, but a truly successful novel or story should be based on a compelling idea.  The idea does not need to be original per se, but rather one that piques readers’ interest.  It means moving beyond the latest paranormal vampire romance into unexplored territory.  Can you guess what the next frontier in writing will be?  If so, write about it before it becomes passé.  A strong idea can be a good foundation for success.

[table id=8 /]