Recently I met a man by the name of Joe Graham through the modern wonder that is MySpace. Joe’s a 41 year old computer scientist married to a beautiful woman name Jana. They have six children together and live in Grand Blanc, Michigan. Joe reads comic books, watches TV, spends as much time as possible with his kids, and enjoys his wife’s cooking. A former military man as well as martial arts enthusiast, Joe wanted to meld these passions with his creative pursuits in describing combat scenes and large scale battle sequences. With his first, self-published novel, Omni – History Begins it looks like he’s achieved just that.
I always admire anyone that can follow their creative hopes while still living a so-called normal life. It takes determination and faith. Joe’s updates at the official Omni site are pretty helpful and encouraging for those wanting to see their name on the front cover of a book, and was kind enough to chat with me about the process of putting it all together.
Okay the first obligatory question – what’s Omni all about?
Here is the synopsis that I used as a press release. But, before all that the answer was a simple concept. Time and time again superheroes are the epitome of self-sacrifice, heroism, truthfulness, and all the other characteristics that comic fans have come to love. How did they get that way? In my superhero universe I wanted to show not the end result, but the process of becoming a superhero. These are not the first superheroes to be training in this manner and the coaches that train them have done this before. It’s how it’s done in my world, you find that out when you read it. It’s more Jedi temple than your parents get killed and you just figure everything out.
620 pages is pretty impressive for a first novel, but do you see this as the first of many adventures in the Omni Universe?
620 large pages with trade paperback size text. The book is 360,000 words. The largest Potter book was about 275,000 words. It’s a monster book, but it was meant to setup the series and the war to follow. I’ve had many people tell me to break it into smaller books, but this isn’t how the story should read. It’s a complete epic the way it is. Yes, this is the first of many.
Can you give us a breakdown of the main heroes and what they bring to the team?
In the book you meet hundreds of heroes and villains – ask me how many original superhero names I had to come up with! The team with the main focus has six members and these are their names.
Darkspeed, leader – super speed, tough, smart, darkness powers; he’s a good problem solver and tactician.
Olympian, hitter – great invulnerability and strength, flight, speed; fighting is just another sport to him.
Shi, stealth – repel and attract fields, strength, agility, fighting skills, and invisibility; she was raised by heroes and has the advantage in skills.
Virtuoso, brain – mind reading, telepathy, illusions, and teleportation; raised by artists she takes a non tactical approach to problems.
Bioforce, healer – bio-manipulate herself and others, bio scan others, heal, very smart; her powers have her both fighting and taking care of the wounded.
Midas, anchor – matter transmutation; as the youngest and weakest, he seems underpowered for the team. As the book goes on his true powers become evident.
What was the motivation for setting up Rejection Press?
This is an easy one. I wanted to get my book out to as many people as possible and I’m impatient. I spoke to someone on line about the publishing process. They said and I quote, “Expect to send out 200 query letters over a two year period just to have someone read your work.” I thought about being rejected 200 times and just thought to myself, “I am not into that kind of rejection.” So, I founded Rejection Press and the book is available on Amazon US, Canada, UK, France, and Germany. I’ve also got it on the Barnes and Nobles web site and I’m working on getting it on their shelves. It’s much more work for me, but I didn’t have anyone reject me.
What were the milestones you faced along the way?
Self editing sucks, I couldn’t do it. I had to line up 20 test readers and ask question after question. In music terms, it would be more like a live album than a studio washed version. In some ways it seems more real editing this way. I know I feel much more confident with the plot after talking it out with so many people.
Was there any step in the whole process that you weren’t quite ready for?
The patience needed as the project grew. At first you think, “I’ll be done with this in a few months.” Then 14 months later you have something you are very proud of, but you really wanted it done awhile back.
How did you stay focused during the time it took to complete the novel?
I would have been lost without two things. One, I made a detailed 75 page outline at the start. That way I knew what I was going to write about when I sat down. Two, my kids enjoyed the book and kept asking for new pages to read as soon as they were done.
What’s your ultimate goal for Omni?
My ultimate goal is for there to be a full blown series of books for Omni. I can’t think of anything that would be more rewarding than for this first work to help spawn that.