Alexia: This week we’re talking about book launch tips. And who better to ask about the subject than someone who celebrated a book birthday last week—welcome back, Mike Chen!
Two years ago you joined the blog to answer some questions and talk about WE COULD BE HEROES, a story about friendship. And this January 30th A QUANTUM LOVE STORY released, a book about love on a time loop. Did you go into writing this one knowing the theme would center on your character’s love story?
Mike: This story went through several iterations as different places requested proposals, but through that the heart of it was always these two people, Carter and Mariana. When I had the chance to have more direct control over the tone and age range, I decided to make their slow-burn love story more of a focus in the book – this was mostly a personal challenge to myself, as I feel like I’d written about many other types of interpersonal relationships but always felt intimidated by having a romance be the driver for the story. It’s as close to romance (the genre) as I will ever get.
Alexia: I love recommending your books to people, especially those who aren’t science fiction fans because you make sci-fi accessible via personal relationships. Your publisher must share the same sentiment because MIRA Books is proud to display you as one of their authors. How have their publicists been involved with A QUANTUM LOVE STORY’s release?
Mike: They’re always helpful and supportive; Justine Sha has been my publicist since my second book and she’s probably the fastest email responder in all of publishing. I think everyone at the imprint understood that from a marketing perspective, there was an opportunity to reach a broader audience with this title and they got to work very early on to make sure the foundation of outreach hit that. It’s really fantastic to get interest reflective of this book’s broader identity.
Alexia: Romance is the top grossing fiction genre, and now you’ve got a release with that tag. How do you view romance as a genre? Do you ever read romance, or do you read genre fiction with romantic elements?
Mike: I don’t read romance in terms of the genre, but I am very aware of its standard story beats and sub-genres. In terms of romantic elements that appear in genre fiction, I that that’s more of using a character focus, because a romantic arc is always as much about self-discovery and acceptance as it is bringing two people together. I am also a huge fan of romantic choices in video games and I will talk endlessly about Liara T’soni AKA my “blue space wife” from the Mass Effect games.
Alexia: You’ve picked powerful themes for your stories. The effect of time on relationships, trauma, friendships, family relationships. When you pitched A QUANTUM LOVE STORY, had you thought ahead to how you’d utilize the romance theme to reach new readers?
Mike: I knew right away that I wanted it to be a combination of slow burn and the understanding of opportunity. That’s different from standard romance beats, which is why we picked “love story” for the title – it’s not a romance novel per se. It was always about two people fighting just to have a chance for happiness, and I think that struggle is universal. I wanted to have characters that readers could root for individually and as a couple, so when they get that moment of “maybe they’ve got a chance,” it would really connect with readers in a different way than with friendships or family.
Alexia: You’ve covered the gamut of relationship themes in your work. Are there any that have been burning a hole in your brain, begging to for you to explore? Or is there a theme that you loved writing so much you want to hit it from a new angle?
Mike: The fun thing about playing in science fiction is you can mix and match sub-genre tropes and types of interpersonal relationships to come up with all sorts of unique stuff. I have a few things simmering, but I need publishing to hurry up and do its thing before I can say anything.
Alexia: There are hundreds of angles one can take on promoting a book release. What is your go to marketing tool, the one thing you’ll do with every book release either because you love it or you can’t ignore its ROI?
Mike: Funny enough, I feel like I’ve released enough books that I realized that authors can’t move the needle too much on their own – it’s really a team effort. So I just try to be open, honest, and accessible in every avenue possible, whether that’s in-person events, Zoom book club meetings, or answering questions on social media.
Alexia: We’re all stronger together. And speaking of ROI, one of Jeffe Kennedy’s topic suggestions for the year is ‘worst ROI ever’. I’d love to pick your brain on that topic, and, well, every other topic we have. You should just join us!
Mike: Like I said, there doesn’t seem to be a formula that always works! So the best thing you can do in the long run is be a nice person and be engaging rather than constantly hawking your wares.
Alexia: I couldn’t help myself, I had to throw that out there because I honestly admire your writing and find your thought processes fascinating. Thanks again for joining me on the blog, Mike. A huge congratulations on the release of A QUANTUM LOVE STORY! Many wishes for its success!
Mike: Thank you for bringing me back!
Mike Chen is a critically acclaimed science fiction author based out of the San Francisco Bay Area. His debut novel HERE AND NOW AND THEN was a finalist for the Goodreads Choice, CALIBA Golden Poppy, and Compton Crook awards. His other novels include A BEGINNING AT THE END, WE COULD BE HEROES, LIGHT YEARS FROM HOME, and STAR WARS: BROTHERHOOD. He has also contributed to the STAR WARS: FROM A CERTAIN POINT OF VIEW anthology and covers geek culture for sites like Nerdist, StarTrek.com, and The Mary Sue. In previous lives, Mike worked as a sports journalist covering the NHL, DJ, musician, and aerospace engineer. He lives with his wife, daughter, and many rescue animals.
A Quantum Love Story
The only thing harder than finding someone in a time loop is losing them.
Grieving her best friend's recent death, neuroscientist Mariana Pineda’s ready to give up everything to start anew. Even her career— after one last week consulting at a top secret particle accelerator.
Except the strangest thing a man stops her…and claims they've met before. Carter Cho knows who she is, why she's mourning, why she's there. And he needs Mariana to remember everything he’s saying.
Because time is about to loop.
In a flash of energy, it’s Monday morning. Again. Together, Mariana and Carter enter an inevitable life, four days at a time, over and over, without permanence except for what they share. With everything resetting—even bank accounts—joy comes in the little a delicious (and expensive) meal, a tennis match, giving a dog his favorite treat.
In some ways, those are all that matter.
But just as they figure out this new life, everything changes. Because Carter's memories of the time loop are slowly disappearing. And their only chance at happiness is breaking out of the loop—forever.