Monday, May 11, 2015

Featured Author: Russ Colchamiro

About the book

Best pals Jason Medley and Theo Barnes barely survived a backpacking trip through Europe and New Zealand that — thanks to a jar of Cosmic Building Material they found — almost wiped out the galaxy. But just as they envision a future without any more cosmic lunacy:

The Earth has started fluxing in and out of existence, Theo's twin girls are teleporting, and Jason can't tell which version of his life is real.

All because of Milo, the Universe's ultimate gremlin.

Joined by the mysterious Jamie — a down-and-out hotel clerk from Eternity — Jason and Theo reunite on a frantic, cross-country chase across America, praying they can retrieve that jar, circumvent Milo, and save the Earth from irrevocable disaster.

In author Russ Colchamiro’s uproarious sequel to Finders Keepers, he finally confirms what we've long suspected — that there’s no galactic Milo quite like a Genius de Milo.

Interview with Russ Colchamiro

Russ, what’s the story behind the title Genius de Milo?
Sorry, folks, but I don’t kiss and tell. You’ll need to read Genius de Milo to find out that particular secret . . .

Tell us about your series. Is this book a standalone, or do readers need to read the series in order?
My debut novel Finders Keepers is a scifi backpacking comedy . . . think American Pie meets Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It's 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.

My newest book, Genius de Milo, is the second book in the trilogy, where our bumbling backpacking heroes Jason Medley and Theo Barnes are once again tasked with retrieving a radioactive jar filled with the Universe’s DNA … before it wipes out the galaxy.

Genius de Milo (and Finders Keepers) is for fans of authors such as Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, and Christopher Moore, and movies and TV shows such as Harold & Kumar, Bill & Ted, Hot Tub Time Machine, Time Bandits, Quantum Leap, Groundhog Day, Northern Exposure, and Third Rock from the Sun.

And whereas Finders Keepers was set predominantly in Europe and New Zealand, the action in Genius de Milo has shifted mostly to the U.S. And, of course, there's lots going on in Eternity, the 'cosmic' realm where the Universe is created.

So for Genius de Milo, think Midnight Run meets Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

As the second book in the series, I wrote Genius de Milo with the understanding that it needed to work on three levels:

  • As a satisfying, self-contained novel that new readers can enjoy even if they haven’t read Finders Keepers 
  • As the second novel in the Finders Keepers trilogy that both continues and enhances the overall narrative and individual story arcs
  • Structurally as a lead-in to the final, upcoming novel that will conclude the trilogy
Who are you?
To most people, I’m a mild-mannered scifi comedy writer, but in truth I'm actually a fugitive from another dimension, with the intergalactic agency in charge of such matters hot on my trail, looking to drag me back to where I’ll face my day of reckoning. All in all I’d rather them not find me, so . . . try to keep it to yourself.

But if you’re referring to my “Earth” life . . . I am a former journalist turned PR guy working in the commercial real estate industry, mostly in New York City.

I’m also married with four-year-old twins, so those little ninjas of mine keep me on my toes. And I have a crazy dog, Simon.

What’s your favorite line from a book? 

“Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time.” – Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut

How do you get to know your characters?

In the Finders Keepers series, I write each chapter from a specific character’s point of view. I spend a lot time getting into that character’s headspace. What does he think about what’s happening right now? How will she handle herself given the predicament she’s in? I try to embody each character, and then write as if I am that character.

Those who spend enough time around me will sooner or later find me muttering to myself about one thing or another. My daughter busted me just last week. More often than not, I’m working out some dialogue or plot sequence for whatever book I’m writing, asking myself if the pieces add up.

I tend to talk out loud, because I like to "hear" the dialogue. Makes for some interesting rides on the train.

Which character did you most enjoy writing?

Oh, you saucy devil. I can’t play favorites. Think of the drama I’d have to deal with. I love of all my characters equally (wink-wink).

Can't blame a girl for trying. What would your main character say about you?
"I knew you were crazy. I just didn’t realize you were that crazy."

Is your book based on real events?
Even though Finders Keepers and now Genius de Milo both have that authentic you-are-there, on-the-ground feel to them — I like readers to feel like they are experiencing what the characters experience — I pretty much made up all of the backpacking, road trip, and Earth-bound travel scenes.

But all of the scifi shenanigans are totally real and based on my intergalactic, interdimensional experiences across time and space.

That makes sense. Are you like any of your characters?
Jason Medley is definitely based on me. I won’t say how much of how he thinks, feels, and acts is actually me and how much is him, but it’s fair to say that we have a lot in common. When I did my initial backpacking tour through Europe back in 1994 … if I was stranded or lost — which happened to me a few times — I couldn’t Google where to go next, because there was no Google! There was no Internet! There were no modern cell phones.

When Jason was stuck on a train in Romania (in Finders Keepers) . . . that really happened to me. And believe me . . . being feverish, hungry, and alone, with no food or water, in the middle of the night, somewhere in Eastern Europe, with a drunken, mentally ill madman loose on a train is not something you just inherently know how to handle. At least I didn’t. Neither did Jason.

If you could be one of your characters, which one would you choose?

Milo. He’s the Universe’s gremlin, although his motivations might be different than what you initially think.

With what five real people would you most like to be stuck in a bookstore?

Albert Einstein, Harry Truman, Kelly Clarkson, and my two kids.

What song would you pick to go with your book?

Sympathy for the Devil” -- The Rolling Stones

Who are your favorite authors?

Christopher Moore, Kurt Vonnegut, David McCullough, and Stephen King.

What book are you currently reading and in what format?
The Serpent of Venice by Christopher Moore,in paperback.

Where’s home for you?
West Orange, New Jersey

Where did you grow up?

Merrick, New York – Long Island. And then I spent about 20 years in New York City, split between Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens. A lot of my family is from Brooklyn and Queens, so I feel a connection there.

What dumb things did you do during your college years?
My buddy and I got arrested for third degree burglary. We didn’t actually do it — no, really! I swear! But we were most definitely in the wrong place at the wrong time, which was completely avoidable. We went looking for mischief, but instead found trouble, with a capital T. Good thing I knew how to teleport, or else we might have been in quite a pickle.

Whew! Good thing. Have you been in any natural disasters?
I’ve survived several hurricanes and blizzards, including Gloria, Katrina, and Sandy. And though not a natural disaster, I was on my way to work in Manhattan during 9/11. That was quite a day.

What is the most daring thing you've done?

Had kids!

What is the stupidest thing you've done? And don't say "Had kids."
Got in a car with someone way, way too drunk to drive. Fair to say I’m lucky to be alive.

Totally fair. I hope you learned your lesson, young man. How did you meet your wife? Was it love at first sight?
It’s a comical, yet romantic story I plan to tell in another book. And yes, it actually was love at first sight.

If you could only keep one book, what would it be?
Lamb, by Christopher Moore

You can be any fictional character for one day. Who would you be? 

Han Solo

What’s your favorite candy bar?

Snickers. But I’m allergic to peanuts, so I don’t eat them too often.

Try Snickers with almonds. It's much better. If you could live anywhere in the world, where in the world would it be?

San Francisco

What would you like people to say about you after you die?

Good guy who looked out for other people. A little crazy, but a good guy.

What are you working on now?
The third and final book in the first Finders Keepers trilogy.

Book Excerpt from Genius de Milo

Jason’s smile dropped away, replaced with a silent, open-mouthed slug of resignation, that whatever was happening was authentic, and unfolding in real time.

In a shared-brain moment Jason and Theo slowly panned in Jamie’s direction  until finally she felt their accusatorial eyes lock on her. And though neither of them spoke, the imputation of blame came through with perfect enunciation: What did you do? What’s coming?

But what could she say? Which cluster of words could encapsulate both the scope and nuance of their predicament? Jamie could offer a pretty good guess as to why their immediate surroundings morphed before their very eyes—it had to be Brigsby-related, didn’t it?—but when it came to the what, she was equally mystified.

So all she could do was stand there. She blinked a few times. Then a few times more. The night went bracingly still, as if every fractal of sound had been drained from the Universe. The three of them held in place, petrified, as if the incredible forces converging upon them were seemingly just to be unleashed. Which, of course, they were.

About the author

Russ Colchamiro is the author of the rollicking space adventure Crossline, the hilarious science fiction backpacking comedy Finders Keepers, and the outrageous sequel Genius de Milo, all with Crazy 8 Press.

Russ lives in West Orange, New Jersey, 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.

As a matter of full disclosure, readers should not be surprised if Russ spontaneously teleports in a blast of white light followed by screaming fluorescent color and the feeling of being swallowed by a tornado. It’s just how he gets around.

Russ encourages you to email him at

Connect with Russ:
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