I first connected with Mars Dorian on Twitter some years ago, not long after I started writing. We’ve been friends ever since.
Each exchange, no matter how brief is always a treat for me. Mars is a delightful human being who deserves every success because he works so hard at it.
And yet, he makes it look effortless. His presence on social media is superb and few people do it as well as he does—we can all learn from him!
It’s a pleasure for me to finally welcome Mars to my blog and highlight his work as a science fiction author.
Be sure to connect to him. He’s definitely worth your time. 🙂
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Mars, welcome to Eden’s Exchange. Thrilled to have you here. Please tell my readers where you live.
Berlin. And I’m love-hating it. Love, because it’s an open-minded city with affordable rent, grrreat creative events and unique people. Hate, because it’s getting more criminal, dirty and dark. Sounds like hokus-pokus, or maybe I’ve lived here for too long, but the city seems to suck my creative energies, I need change.
I’d love to visit you. Don’t leave yet! If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I wish I was more business-savvy and entrepreneurial-spirited. My parents are both creatives, and their chaotic daydreaming spirit has wandered over to me. It’s fun and fulfilling, but it also leads to many decisions that are dumb from a biz point of view. So less introvert daydreamer, more outgoing business man. But maybe it’s DNA. I’ll tell you in a year.
Please do. 😉 What profession other than your own would you like to try?
In my early twenties, I wanted to become a movie director in Hollywood, but then I realized I hated waking up early and working with people. I still would love to see a movie made by me, I just hate all the steps it would take to get there.
Mars, at least you know yourself well! Do you have a motto you live by?
I stole this one from Mark Schaefer this year, a writing mentor and popular marketing blogger over at http://www.businessesgrow.com/.
The wise man said, “Growth and comfort can’t coexist.”
It’s my motto for 2016, to try things that challenge my comfort and hopefully grow my personality, finances and overall life.
Challenging your comfort zone is always a good thing, though I think your personality is already HUGE. Let’s learn more about your writing. What motivates you to do it?
I love telling stories, ever since my mother bought the first comic edition of Ghostbusters when I was seven years old. From that day on, I used comic-drawing, type-writng (remember that?) and conventional painting to tell stories.
As an adult, I find writing to be the purest and most accessible style to heart-reach a human being on the other side of the planet.
What a wonderful way of putting it. How do you market yourself?
I’ve built up an email list with over 1300 peeps that I write to once my new book comes out. I also have regular readers who give me honest reviews for new books, which helps build up social proof for the launch. I use Amazon’s marketing tools such as the Kindle countdown deal or the temporary free option to shoot up the sales ranks, or try to. Recently, I’ve started learning more about book promotion sites but I need more experience and knowledge to properly understand their merit. Other than that, it’s the good old ‘constantly ship quality books for your target audience.’
Quality. Yes. Name a few authors and books, and why you like them.
As a sci-fi writer, I try to avoid reading too much sci-fi to avoid idea incest and samey samey stories. So years ago, when I was looking for different authors to admire, I stumbled upon Don Winslow, a SoCal thriller writer. His book Savages, about two guys setting up a cannabis empire in California and pissing off a major Mexican cartel, inspired me. The man writes in a way that I hadn’t seen before: Don breaks the fourth wall, berates his characters in the middle of a paragraph, writes staccato minimalist prose with the beauty of a lyrical song text. And then you read his witty dialogue, bam. I’ve since read ten books penned by Don and it has deepened my literary love for his unconventional prose and storytelling.
Don sounds amazing. I must add him to my list. How much research do you do for your books?
I watch science videos every single day on Youtube, ranging from how space rockets work to how terraforming Mars could look like. I also use the online tool Evernote to collect and save articles about any technology I want to include in my stories, such as nano-medicine, miniature robots, AI, FTL-traveling and genome engineering. Even though I put characters and stories always first, I want to make sure that the worlds I create are based on (possible) science.
Minimalist, fast-paced, short-chapter-ish prose with the occasional word play and witty dialogue. Don Winslow, don’t sue me.
Ha! Don Winslow is lucky to have you as a true fan, Mars. Do you outline, plot and structure, or do you just sit down and write?
I write a character sheet for the protagonists and antagonists, where I clarify their wants, their voice and unique traits slash skills. Based on that, I craft a thousand word treatment that shows what must happen in each act of the story (I follow the trusted three act structure). The main parts of every story are: opening scene, premise, mid-point, mirror moment, showdown, and of course resolution. Once I’ve finished all that, I start writing the first draft. This sounds very plott-y, but there’s still a lot of making-things-up-on-the-go. I for example don’t outline my scenes, because that would take away any surprise on my end. So sixty-five percent plotting, thirty-five percent pantsing. 🙂
Do you have a set schedule for writing? Tell us about your typical writer’s day.
I write during the day while listening to video game soundtracks and/or J-pop. Since I use the writing software Scrivener, I can track my daily writing goal in the form of a status bar that fills up the more you write. My goal is to write at least 2K words a day, 1K being the absolute minimum.
What are some of your “must-have” tools for writing?
The writing software is the most important part in my creative arsenal. Back when I wrote in Word, writing was less than half the fun it’s now. Scrivener, available for Mac and Windows, is in my opinion the best writing software for authors who write non/fiction. It’s organization of chapters is a dream, the options for writing and tracking your goals are amazing, and the possibility to formate any digital book file (epub, mobi, PDF, etc.) without coding experience makes it the perfect tool for self-publishing authors. I know I sound like a double-used car salesman, but I simply love products that drastically help my career.
I agree you need good tools. Writing in itself is hard enough. What is the name and genre of your latest book?
Vanguard Galaxy. It’s about an ambitious ex-military captain taking a cybernetic ship crew to the rim of the known galaxy to establish contact with a sentient life form. I guess some people call that genre space opera, but it does sound cheesy, that’s why I call it galactic sci-fi. 🙂
Here is the cover and blurb.
Rising cruiser captain Tellride fails a secret asteroid assault and kills his military career. Fortunately for the captain, one of the solar system’s biggest corps hires him to lead an elite ship crew billions of kilometers across the mysterious space.
The mission: initiate contact with the first advanced alien known to mankind.
Sounds simple, especially when equipped with a biomorphic spaceship, hi-tech arms and elite members with cybernetic skills. But when deceptive aliens and archenemies from past battles collide, the question of success becomes one of survival.
“Vanguard Galaxy is filled with twists and turns, cool new tech, witty dialogue and epic space encounters…” ~ Ioangu
“If you’re into future tech, epic space battles, and a nice twisty plot, then this is the book you were looking for.” ~ Brandon Stewart
Why should people read Vanguard Galaxy?
If you’re open to sci-fi and want to read fast-paced, future-packed rides with diverse characters, cool new tech, and witty dialogue, you should check Mars Dorian out. There’s also a sense of wonder I want to instill in readers.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned from writing it?
That you have to keep your target market in mind. My first books flopped abysmally because I told stories no one cared about and used weird comic covers trying to (desperately) sell them. Nowadays, I’m very conscious of my audience and how to reach them, e.g. through adequate covers, targeted stories (that still end up unique and weird), and the proper promotion. Self-awareness is by the far most important skill here—knowing yourself, and the market where you want to position yourself.
What makes your books stand out from the crowd?
My unique storytelling style, the diverse set of characters, definitely the dialogue and the world-building. Once you read a Mars Dorian book, you will recognize my style because no one writes the way I do. I want to believe readers who dig that style keep coming back because they can’t get that experience anywhere else.
I read an early book of yours and I agree. Your style is uniquely YOU. What inspired you to write Vanguard Galaxy?
I often dream about the future and wonder how humanity would act as an advanced, spacefaring civilization. If we had the technology to travel and colonize much of the solar system, what would we discover in far away galaxies, which I call the Rim. And who would explore this ‘new’ frontier—governments, the military or even corporations in their future form? How would alien discoveries change our race? So many far-flung questions I wanted to jam-pack into a tight galactic sci-fi thriller.
What is next for you, Mars?
I want to explore the concept of exoplanet colonization, and how it changes us from a mental and genetic point of view. If we on Earth already differentiate between nationalities (German versus Canadian), how would that differ if humans evolved on different planets (Earthling versus Martian?). I believe we would turn into different humanoid species with vastly different cultures, and that’s a fascinating opportunity for stories.
It is indeed. Your science fiction is like nothing I’ve read before, and everyone should try it. Let’s finish with a fun lightning round!
Name a food you can eat everyday. Pho soup. I almost hit my local vietnamese snack bar daily for the necessary fix.
Salty or sweet? How about bitter? Lemon, especially.
Favorite place you’ve traveled to or would like to travel to? I love the former territories of the Queen—Australia and America. Canada is next on my list, I’m going there for at least 6-12 months beginning in 2017. There’s something fresh about these countries, opposed to ancient Europe which comes with a stale flavor.
Coffee or tea or something else? I love a German ice-tea brand that makes (somewhat) unique combos, such as green tea mixed with cactus pear. They produce two liter packages only, and in my weaker moments, I down them on a single day.
Your most guilty pleasure. Sounds trivial, but my doctors told me to trim down on the sugar intake. I’ve managed that goal somewhat, but I’m still hooked to a Bavarian Hipster-Drink based on the Mate flower from South America called Club Mate. It comes with only one third the sugar of a regular coke, someone told me. Or maybe that’s what I wish to believe.
Favorite style of music? I love Japanese pop and indie electronic music with video game elements, such as Lapfox who’s Canadian by the way. 🙂
Favorite season. Autumn. I like the melancholic and morbid atmo it often brings when the wind blows the dying leaves from the tree-crowns. Autumn is also an excuse to stay inside, cuddle up and do work in front of the computer while enjoying hot chocolate.
Name something you cannot go a day without. I’m training myself to be emotionally independent from pretty much every object and thing, including the Internet.
Is there anything else you would like to share with my readers? Follow me on Twitter @marsdorian if you have any questions or just want to connect.
Mars, I knew you would be a fascinating subject and you did not disappoint. When you come to Canada, you must visit me, okay?
Readers, please find Mars on his incredible website and connect to him! You will learn SO much.
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Connect to Mars
Mars Dorian is a recovering world traveler, a web-based illustrator and an indie sci-fi author.
He’s created artwork for startups and popular podcasts such as The Unmistakable Creative and written viral articles for renowned marketing blog ‘Grow’ by Mark Schaefer.
He loves telling compelling stories using words and pictures, dealing with future technologies and how they impact human lives…forever. His books tackle futuristic topics such as privatized military, human/alien contacts and cybernetic humanity.
When Mars is not busy getting lost in the worlds he has created, he can be contacted via his website www.marsdorian.com/contact