Q&A with Michael Bernhart
1. Describe How Speleology Restored My Sex Drive in three words.
A phenomenal book!
2. How did you come up with the title to this book?
It was a mistake. The structure of the novel was coming together and I threw on a working title. Only after copyrighting and publishing the thing did I remember that this was not a title I wanted to live with. Too late. It already had a (small) following. For openers, many people don’t know what speleology means. And it has only oblique relevance to the story.
3. What's the biggest adventure you've embarked on?
This will sound boastful, but I’ve had a genuinely exciting life. Shot at by age 12 (Iran); evacuated from a hostile country (Iran) at age 13; beaten by a gang of communist goons at age 17 (Philippines); two more evacuations from crumbling security situations (Indonesia and Jordan); USAF pilot of high performance aircraft; lived in fourteen countries and worked in fifty; plus two failed marriages and multiple firings for being a smartass. The list could go on. Recalling these, it’s hard to choose among them for ‘adventure’. That said, I can recommend piloting a very hot plane for a guaranteed daily rush. How hot is it? Scampered to 10,000 meters altitude in 89 seconds. Better than many rockets.
4. Name three books you would recommend to readers.
How I Made $3,200,000 from My Hobby – the first in the Max Brown series and the most ambitious. Debut novels tend to be that.
How Ornithology Saved My Life - the second Max Brown novel and the darkest. Written to prove I could grind out a potboiler like the big boys.
How Existentialism Almost Killed Me: Kierkegaard Was Right – the best.
5. What's the strangest thing on your desk?
It all looks pretty normal. Empty pie plate, unpaid bills, junk mail awaiting disposal. No severed heads or inflatable anatomically correct cheer-leaders.
This is me. Some gentle folk at a New Age festival snapped this with their aura-cam. They said it was an exceedingly auspicious aura, and, in truth, I was having a good day.
Since I have the floor, let me plug indie authors/publishers. Those of us who pay attention to the constructive feedback we receive can revise and re-upload an improved version of our work almost daily. Through successive approximations we eventually produce something good. In contrast, the conventional publishers are stuck with the original version until the last remainders table has been cleared. I won’t deny it; there are some awful books by indies out there. But have you looked at the dreck published under James Patterson’s name? By some estimates 3,000 new novels are squeezed onto the nation’s bookshelves every day. Some of them have to be good.
A fun fact: Researchers at the Yale School of Public Health found that people who read books (not periodicals) for half an hour a day live 23 months longer than others. If you want to spend those additional two years in pleasant company, you can start with my four novels.