Evolved Publishing (2012)
ISBN 9781622536016
Reviewed by Ben Weldon (age 16) for Reader Views (7/13)

Article first published as Interview with Michael Dadich, Author of ‘The Silver Sphere’ on Blogcritics.

Michael Dadich has been writing since first setting pencil to a steno pad at age eight. A year later, he began developing the world of his current series-in-progress, and even created its title, “The Silver Sphere.” Now, with the support of years of experience, those early maps and back stories have progressed into what he hopes is a fresh and entertaining take on the classic young adult fantasy adventure.

Despite Michael’s frequent escapes into parallel worlds, he roots himself firmly in his very real family and community. When not pacing the yard maniacally after every few pages of writing, he spends as much time as possible hanging out with his studly young son, and inspirational wife Jenna. He also coaches several local youth sports teams in Beverly Hills, and alternates between yelling at his two crazy Corgis and hiking with his trained German shepherd.

Tyler: Welcome, Michael. It’s a pleasure to interview you today. First of all, I love  one of the opening sentences I read for the book’s description: “Shelby Pardow never  imagined killing someone. That’s about to change.” Sounds like a great way to  grab the reader’s attention. Can you tell us more about who Shelby is and what  killing has to do with the novel?

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Tyler: I\u2019ve heard that too and think it\u2019s very true. \nWell, thank you again, Michael,  for the interview today. Before we go, \nwill you tell us about your website and  what additional information we \ncan find there about \u201CThe Silver Sphere\u201D?

Michael: You\u2019re welcome, Tyler, and thank you for your time. I spent a lot of thought  and effort on creating my website: www.thesilversphere.org.\n  My incredible artist and art director overall, Mallory Rock, worked \nreally hard  to create my vision, and I think she did a superb job on \nthe book trailers. I  did something a little different regarding book \ntrailers, outside of the main  one; we also created character \nspotlights. One of my best friends, Kevin  Martin, is the lead singer of\n the platinum selling band Candlebox, and he gave me permission to use his excellent music. I  hope everyone enjoys the site and its content.

Tyler: Thank you, Michael, and I hope you\u2019ll come  back to talk about your future books.

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Michael: Thanks, Tyler. Shelby  is the young teen protagonist in my novel. After leading a mundane life, she is  thrust into a new world where she must learn to battle evil forces that  threaten all she knows, and learns there.

Tyler: Tell us about this other world of Azimuth that Shelby ends up in. How is it  similar or different from our own?

Michael: Azimuth is a world, 200 light years away, that resides in the Eridanus  constellation. A bygone civilization on Earth traveled there to escape a dark  force that threatened their survival, and integrated peacefully with its  occupants. It is a world where magic and technology (sorcology) co-exist. Due  to the loss of massive life in prior wars, advanced technology has now been  banned on Azimuth, except for the United Forces, who exist for protection in  dire circumstances. The United Forces operate on bases and star ships that are  not located on Azimuth. There are magical portals, enhanced by technology,  which can be used to travel from Earth to Azimuth. The landscapes in some areas  are similar to Earth, though the undertone and some of its inhabitants and  creatures are not. Or perhaps, maybe it’s not so different to how Earth was  long ago. I read recently that there is evidence now that the T-Rex was covered  in feathers. Who knows what existed here billions, or even thousands of years  ago really?

Tyler: I love the novel’s title. Will you tell us what it represents—what is the  silver sphere in the book?

Michael: The Silver Sphere is a magical armillary device created by the Truth Seekers,  the celestial protectors of the universe. The Sphere can deliver the precise  celestial coordinates of Biskara, considered to be Satan in the Eridanus  constellation.

Only the Aulic Assembly members have the ability to operate the  Silver Sphere. Upon death, the Kin inherit their counterparts’ ability to  utilize the Sphere.

Tyler: In the novel Shelby is with the Kin—will you explain to us just who or what the  Kin are?

Michael: The Kin are certain individuals who are born with the ability to be linked to a  member of the Aulic Assembly. Why and why were they on Earth? That’s part of  the story ;).

Tyler: Tell us about the villain, Malefic—I understand he’s a demon spawn!

Michael: Malefic is the mortal son of the demon Biskara. He has been bred for war and  has been biding his time to instill his father’s mission. Let’s see, how would  we all perceive Satan’s motives? He wants to spread death and despair and rule  Azimuth, and won’t stop there. Although your reviewer, Ben, wished that the  villain was fleshed out more, I preferred to keep him as mysterious as how we  view Satan here on Earth. I was trying to capture that creepy, spooky feeling  of the unknown. I remember reading the Time magazine article (do you remember  it, Does Evil Exist?, the cover is  black?) It’s an interesting topic because we just don’t know where it comes  from, and that makes it scarier. I learned from his review and really  appreciated his feedback.

Tyler: Michael, a lot of fantasy novels focus on people from the real world being  sucked into another world. What made you decide to do that with your novel  rather than simply setting it wholly in a fantasy world—what about that plot  device appeals to you?

Michael: Well, Tyler, I really enjoy researching when I develop my outlines and history  in general. I believe we are not alone in this universe, much less others, and  that good and evil does exist, and not just on the mortal plane. I also believe  that there is a strong possibility, in the billions of years the Earth has  existed, that we were not the first advanced civilization that existed here. So  I read a lot, not just fiction for pleasure, but on history and theories that  revolve around it. I don’t think, regardless of what faith you follow, that  life ends fully when we pass. I believe the possibility exists that there may  be the ultimate battle ahead of us, and there is a struggle between good and  evil, and we will all be needed when we are ready. The sequence involving the  characters Nick Casey and Lucas Denon came to me from a dream I had after a  near death experience, involving John Lennon. I was hanging on to life when I  experienced the dream. Or just maybe it wasn’t a dream, but a journey. It shook  me to the core when I emerged from this state. I saw something. I fully  recovered from my ordeal physically, but what I observed did inspire me in  developing the celestial backdrop and the world of Azimuth, including portals  that some believe truly exist.
  I recently finished reading some books on Machu  Picchu, the Canary Islands, the map of Piri Reis and the Mayans. I find it  fascinating.

Tyler: Would you tell us more about your process—you mentioned creating a history—so  I’m wondering whether you have to keep timelines or chronologies so you can  keep everything straight, and also when I introduced you I mentioned you make  maps of your world. Can you tell us a little about that whole process of  creating your world and making it real and keeping everything straight? Do you  find all that fun or is it complex and frustrating?

Michael:  The most frustrating part for me is establishing a routine for my writing. I  have a serious day job, and made a commitment to my son to coach his teams (I  love sports and the bonding time with him and supporting his passions are  important to me). In Stephen King’s On  Writing, he recommends carving out a few hours a day to write. Sometimes my  schedule can make this impossible as I work all day, often coach after work,  and then you have things like client dinners and birthdays, etc. I find that  the summer is the best time for me to set a routine. Work slows down and I take  a break from coaching, and try to keep my social calendar to a minimum. In my  sequel, I have the added pressure of deadlines to meet from my publisher. They  are very understanding of my schedule though. Sometimes the words just flow,  and sometimes you are staring at that blank white page for an hour. You just  have to remember to keep writing and push through, even if you think it’s  terrible. LOL. You can always rewrite and color in what is missing later. Part  of my process is researching some topics, then taking long walks and thinking  about it. I tend to pace my yard after writing several pages. The air is good  for you too.

Regarding maps; I am not a good artist. When I was a  kid, I enjoyed placing oak tag down and mapping out the world I was creating. I  was blessed to find Mallory Rock, who is an artist with Evolved Publishing, and  working with her has been great and we have become good friends. Keeping the  chronology and history I am creating is really just about being organized. If  you miss something, hopefully the edits and beta readers catch some things that  lurk. Sometimes, as the writer, you can miss things because the story is in  your head, and even if you go over your writing a hundred times you need a  fresh set of critical eyes on it. Researching a topic you want to implement, in  general, is the fun part, but yes keeping notes and timelines, and outlines, is  essential. I still use a steno pad for that part.

Tyler: One thing our reviewer, Ben Weldon, liked about the book was the new fantasy  creatures you created. Can you tell us about some of the original creatures in  the novel and where you got the ideas for them?

  Michael: As I mentioned earlier, after researching and reading about folklore and myths,  I take long walks, and often pace my yard as part of my process. I can’t really  explain imagination, as some things just emerge. The Fugues, the protectors of  the Sphere, developed when I had a dream where I was walking in the woods and  several blue eyes materialized around me while they sang a beautiful song. I  enjoyed creating the Battleswine, a warrior race with a boar’s head. The  disembowelers are terrible beasts I would not want to face in battle. I also  put my own spin and ideas on Baku, who in Japanese folklore are supernatural  beings that devour dreams and nightmares, and some other mythical creatures  such as the Manticore and Leshy.

Tyler: I understand this novel is the first in the series. Will you tell us a little  about the series and its overarching plot or other plans you have for it,  without giving away too much? How many books will there be, etc.?

Michael: This set of Kin will go through a trilogy. I’m currently writing book two, The Sinister Kin, where they will face a  new challenge involving their evil counterparts. There is also a prequel  planned, that will go through the story of Biskara’s first attack on Azimuth  after he was considered a myth, and how his son Hideux came to power.

Tyler: You mentioned mythology. Do you feel like you’re creating a new myth for your  book, and why is creating a mythical type world important to you or to readers,  in your opinion?

Michael: Myths are passed down generation to generation. Perhaps some of these myths and  legends were actually real and not fictitious. I believe that the fact we are  standing here, the complexities of the human being alone, show that anything is  possible. Humans have been on earth just a few seconds really. Maybe, for  instance, a manticore did roam the ancient world. Who is to say that a spirit  world or a celestial land does not exist? Is it possible, that similar to our  mortal plane, that good and evil exists in the “afterlife”? That God needs his  soldiers, and the devil is recruiting his? Or whatever religious beliefs you  have has a little spin on it (I happen to have been raised as Catholic). I may  have glimpsed that world in my coma-like state after my accident.

Maybe it was  just a dream, but it didn’t feel that way. So when I have been writing “The  Silver Sphere,”I took some of my  personal experiences and imagination, borrowed from some folklore and myths I  researched, and used it all to world build and create. Science recently has  advanced to where we are sending out our space probes deeper and deeper. In  twenty or thirty years, they will be deeper still and closer to answers  hopefully. There may actually be a world in the Eridanus constellation that is  habitable. If the great dinosaurs lived here so long, what could be there? Does  magic and technology exist there, and what are the citizens like? I have read  about portals; some think there may have been one in the Bermuda Triangle and  other places. Well, maybe someone knows how to harness that power. And what if  good and evil were struggling elsewhere? These are the questions I ask myself  in my process.

Tyler: What do you think makes “The Silver Sphere” stand out from all the other  fantasy novels being published these days?

Michael: Since I don’t bother to chase trends i.e., vampires, angels, steampunk etc., my  main goal was to provide a fresh and unique fantasy adventure story. I wrote my  very first chapter well before many of the current popular books in this genre,  and the concept started when I was just a kid. I think one of the benefits is  that this story marinated for a long time. I feel “The Silver Sphere” makes a   case that every one of us has the potential to correctly answer the call, “You  are needed.” Though I wish I finished it sooner, life and its responsibilities  and demands can get in the way of your passions sometimes. I learned to listen  to that enthusiastic little boy again. But I believe it’s better for it. I  think it is an original storyline with a quick pace.

Tyler: What age group of readers do you think will most enjoy the novel, and what  kinds of responses have you received for it so far?

Michael: I think it’s appropriate at age 12 and on. I have had great feedback though  from readers in their 30’s and 40’s, and older. The Silver Sphere recently won the Mom’s Choice Gold award, as well  as the Wise Bear Books Gold award, and is a finalist in the Readers Favorite  awards. I’m excited to possibly attend the Readers Favorite convention in  Miami; I’m working on my schedule now to attend, because I think it would be a great experience and I plan on bringing my ten year old son and wife. Last  week, it was nominated for YALSA’s 2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults. This is  one of the biggest awards in Young Adult literature and I consider this a huge  honor just to be nominated. I am always humbled and thankful whenever I receive  a good review, award or nomination. I also appreciate critical reviews as they  help improve my writing. I find that some readers enjoy multiple points of  views, for instance, while others do not. I think it’s all a matter of taste. I  purposely set out to write in that manner (multiple POV’s), while keeping the  main protagonists the focal point. I liked showing different perspectives.

I have received great feedback on the world building  in general, and most readers and reviewers find the plot fresh and unique. I  believe your reviewer, Ben, wished there was some more back story on Azimuth’s  code, where advanced technology is banned. I had explained that the great  leaders on Azimuth had decided on this code long ago, when weapons of mass  destruction and the like killed and destroyed millions, and I placed the code  in the glossary for reference. Although I did not want this to be a large focus  in book one, I learned from his review and it was helpful and will improve my  thought process when writing about Azimuth. As I mentioned, there will be a  prequel that involves a great war on Azimuth and more of its origins, and more  of a focus on the code and many of the other customs and history in general.

I think the proudest moment through my writing  journey was when my son came up to me and said, “So dad, how does it feel to be  a multi-award winning author?” I never thought of it that way, though I was  happy and humbled when I won them. Award  winning author. That little eight-year old boy that dreamed of being an  author; he was beaming inside of me.

Tyler: I know that feeling myself, Michael, since I was about eight when I first  dreamt of being a writer. What tips do you have for the little boys and girls  out there now who might want to grow up to be authors or even for adults  wanting to write a book?

Michael: It’s such a wonderful feeling, isn’t it, Tyler? That feeling alone is why I  recommend following your dreams at any cost. Following those little boy’s dreams. I learned so much on my  personal path to becoming a published author. In college, I had an excellent  professor, and he wanted me to join his writing workshop. At the time, I was  vice president of my fraternity (it really is work LOL) and working nights as a  club promoter/bartender/doorman to pay the rent. Along with school work and  everything else I wish I took advantage of that opportunity more, as he felt I  had real potential to develop. After I graduated, I was offered an opportunity  to enter a prestigious training program in the World Trade Center (another  story). So I took the job, and this started a cycle of working from morning to  late at night. Eventually I met my wife and we started a family. When I moved  from NYC to LA, I found a box that had some of my creative writing from  college, and a steno pad from when I was eight, with notes on the Silver  Sphere. So I began to write again. I had written a couple of hundred pages of  the first draft when I suffered a brain aneurysm while playing hockey. I  learned dramatically that life is fragile. It can be gone in an instant. No  time to pack, square some things away, and finish up projects. (This is where I  had that dream sequence I mentioned earlier). I was fortunate to have a full  recovery. I decided to spend more time with my family at that point, and  shelved the writing for some time. I began getting involved in my community,  fundraising, and coaching all my son’s teams and becoming park board president  at my local park. Then my wife, who had constantly been in my ear about  continuing my writing, gave my manuscript to a close friend who is a publicist.  He really enjoyed what I had written so far and encouraged me not just to consider  it a hobby. The reason I am giving a little detail on my writing journey is  that everyone will have one slightly different. I think you need support from  your friends and family, a muse always helps, and to study writing.

There are  several good books on writing; I started with most of Sol Stein’s, and Noah  Lukeman’s the First Five Pages. And   learning the craft never ever stops. Feedback, reviews, other books, edits. You  are always learning. Much of it can be subjective, and some things will  contradict each other (especially reviewers). You take what strikes a chord  from all, and make some notes to see if you can improve your writing as you  continue.

I have an independent editor, Kira McFadden, who was  just great and positive to work with. I found Kira through my literary coach,  Timothy Staveteig, who is a former lit agent and I recommend to aspiring  writers. After Evolved Publishing signed me, I worked with Dave Lane, one of  the owners there who also did my final edit. Dave is just a rock star in  editing. You learn a large amount from each editor you work with, so I  recommend finding a good one whom you can work with and is responsive. It might  be a good idea if you can find an editor who will go with you through the  process chapter by chapter, because it’s basically very similar to taking a  creative writing class, but more personal and intense. This would fix any early  flaws, like the common “showing vs. telling” issues new authors tend to have.  Once you learn the craft a little and have an outline in place on your story,  just sit and write. Don’t worry about the quality in the beginning. That’s what rewrites are for, then edits, beta reading, more rewrites, more edits, LOL.  It’s not easy, but the entire process is rewarding in the end. If you are a  parent, and your little one starts writing short stories and the like, similar  to us, Tyler, then pay attention. Support it, work with them on it, be  enthusiastic, and as they get older, encourage it and if you can afford to, get  them involved with a writing tutor, class, or group. Ask their teachers for  advice.

Tyler: What would you say would be the primary influences on your writing—other  fantasy writers, films, or something else?

Michael: There  were many, but one particular author, C.S Lewis, taught me the invaluable gift  of the love of reading. I was nine when I viewed Star Wars in the theater (several times), and I enjoyed reading  Terry Brooks, Anne McCaffrey and Piers Anthony at that age (still do). I read  that most of the basic material a writer works with is acquired before the age  of fifteen, so obviously the books I read and enjoyed when I was younger had a  big influence on my writing.

Tyler: I’ve heard that too and think it’s very true. Well, thank you again, Michael,  for the interview today. Before we go, will you tell us about your website and  what additional information we can find there about “The Silver Sphere”?

Michael: You’re welcome, Tyler, and thank you for your time. I spent a lot of thought  and effort on creating my website: www.thesilversphere.org.   My incredible artist and art director overall, Mallory Rock, worked really hard  to create my vision, and I think she did a superb job on the book trailers. I  did something a little different regarding book trailers, outside of the main  one; we also created character spotlights. One of my best friends, Kevin  Martin, is the lead singer of the platinum selling band Candlebox, and he gave me permission to use his excellent music. I  hope everyone enjoys the site and its content.

Tyler: Thank you, Michael, and I hope you’ll come  back to talk about your future books.