Indie Spotlight – JCM Berne

Today I am welcoming author JCM Berne into the Indie Spotlight.

JCM Berne codes by day. By night he retreats to his secret lair and fights the deconstruction of the superhero genre by writing stories where the heroes are trying to do the right thing and, for the most part, succeed. He spends far too much time on twitter, discord, and instagram, whispering to himself that scrolling through one more set of pictures of expensive watches will somehow further his writing career.

Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Free short story

Welcome to the Indie Spotlight!

What made you decide to publish your books independently? What was your path to publication?

I spent a couple of months looking for agents interested in superhero/space opera adventure stories and found … none. I believed then (as I do now) that this genre has a significant audience, but the publishing world doesn’t seem to care, and I wasn’t particularly interested in writing a middle grade cozy fantasy (nothing wrong with middle grade cozies! Just not my thing).Once I decided to publish, I released my book with a relatively inexpensive cover and waited for the accolades to roll in. I actually got quite a lot of positive feedback on that early version, and I decided to actually learn the craft of writing and rework the book. I hired an editor, started taking classes, and revised Wistful Ascending a couple of times to make it what it is today.

What made you decide to write in your specific genre rather than other genres? Have you ever written in other genres?

I think flying superheroes are cool! I don’t have a more academic answer than that, really. I think people punching things is cooler than people tossing fireballs, so I write about people who punch things, and not about wizards. I don’t think guns are cool (I mean aesthetically, in an action story, I’m not making a political statement about gun regulation) so I write about worlds where magic makes guns less than useful. Those choices to me aren’t about right and wrong, correct and incorrect, it’s just about the aesthetic one prefers. I imagine if I were a retired marine sniper I’d be a lot more into guns and tactical action and I’d be writing those sort of stories… but I’m not, I’m a lifelong martial artist.I’ve written plenty of straight fantasy! My first several (unreleased) books are high fantasy, and the book I just finished is high fantasy (release plans to be determined). I cannot imagine ever writing hard sci fi or trying to write non-genre fiction.

Do you only read the genre that you write?

For the most part, yes. I like genre stories – sci fi and fantasy. I’ll read some hard sci fi once in a while, and I certain read outside the superhero world, but I really prefer the SFF world. In the past I’ve delved into literary fiction, detective fiction, and thrillers, but never for very long.

What are you currently reading? Watching on TV? Is there a type of music you listen to for inspiration?

I’ve been reading a lot of SFF indie books – largely books written by people I know. I just finished The Crew, which was hilarious, and started Prince of the Wasteland. I’m also re-reading Harry Dresden and JR Carrel to discuss on his youtube channel. I’ve been watching very little TV the last few months, though I typically watch most of the genre stuff that hits Netflix and quite a bit of anime. I’m sure my Netflix queue is enormous right now! I listen to Bollywood music for inspiration. I have a playlist:

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Your first draft will be awful. That’s okay. You can break the rules, but only if you have a really, really good reason. The rules are there for a reason. Don’t write superhero stories, they’re very hard to market.

What are you working on right now and what can we look forward to seeing from you next?

I’m editing The Millennium Qi, a high fantasy wuxia-inspired novel about a retired monster hunter tearing apart a continent to rescue her kidnapped daughters. I’m honestly not sure what will happen to that book. I might query it and I might self publish it! I just started writing Turn Four of the Hybrid Helix, Shadow of Hyperion. It should appeal to anyone who enjoyed the first three turns!

Thank you so much for joining me on my blog today – I wish you every success with your books – I enjoyed the first two and have the short story on my kindle!

Wistful Ascending (Turn One of the Hybrid Helix)

The il’Drach have conquered half a galaxy behind the civilization-ending Powers of their mixed-species children.
Half-human Rohan, exhausted by a decade fighting for their Empire, has paid a secret and terrible price for his freedom.
Now retired, he strives to live a quiet life towing starships for the space station Wistful. His most pressing problems are finding the perfect cup of coffee and talking to a gorgeous shuttle tech without tripping over his own tongue.
A nearby, long-dormant wormhole is opened by a shipful of scared, angry refugees, and the many eyes of the Empire focus uncomfortably on Wistful.
As scientists, spies, and assassins converge, reverting to the monster the Empire created is the surest way to protect his friends. And the surest way to lose them.

Amazon | goodreads | My Review of Wistful Ascending

Return of The Griffin (Turn Two of the Hybrid Helix)

Humanity faces extinction. Ten-kiloton monsters are rising from the depths of the Pacific, levelling entire cities in frenzies of destruction. Earth’s heroes have been decimated. The survivors put their hope in one last, desperate plan: find Hyperion, Earth’s most powerful hero, and ask him to return from exile to save them.What they don’t know is that Hyperion is dead.
The Griffin spent ten years fighting wars across the sector as a weapon of mass destruction for the il’Drach Empire. His victories made his name a curse on a dozen worlds and a nightmare on scores more. He retired to the peaceful station Wistful and discovered that leaving his name behind didn’t clear his sins, his debts, or his conscience. Earth’s peril may give him a chance for redemption, if he can only find a way to stop the monsters without turning into one. Without becoming The Griffin again.

Amazon | Goodreads | My Review of Return of the Griffin

Blood Reunion
(Turn Three of The Hybrid Helix)

People are dying, their corpses left savaged and drained of blood. The obvious culprit: vampires. But vampires shouldn’t be able to sneak around Wistful undetected or shadowstep freely inside her body. Soon the station herself becomes oddly uncooperative, leaving Rohan and Wei Li bewildered and all her inhabitants in danger.
Finding and defeating the killer will require a deep dive into the ancient history of Wistful and of the il’Drach people. Into the connections between the Ursans, the wormholes, and the races that preceded them. Into the dark past of a tormented space station that yearns only for death.
Rohan will be forced to fight, and maybe even to kill. He’ll have to face those who bear grudges from his past, the Empire he once served, and his own reluctance to again become the warrior he sometimes needs to be.

Amazon | goodreads


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