Welcome, Mike. First of all, please introduce yourself and tell us what you like to do when not writing.
I began writing at a very early age, and eventually went on to study English and American literature in the university setting. I got a Master of Arts in English from Binghamton University, Binghamton, NY at the age of 24, and went on to become a full-time professional writer in 2001. When I’m not writing, I love to get into the other areas of the arts: concerts, visual arts, and so on. To to stay healthy, I run and work out.
What was your inspiration for Miles of Files?
In Miles of Files, a young man find out that his boss is stealing from the company retirement plan, but not in a traditional embezzlement: he’s actually created these fake employee files, to make it look like he’s paying out benefits to former employees. The germ of the story is based loosely on an experience of my own: I once worked for a company that “froze” the company retirement plan for a year, so no one could take funds out or even put funds in. That was an unnerving experience.
I hope it would appeal to anyone who enjoys a crime thriller, but it’s also targeted toward readers of literary and contemporary fiction. I aim as high as I can when it comes to trying to write a great book.
Do you try to be more original or give readers what they want?
I think that if you give readers your very best effort, you’ll give some of them what they want. I feel as though the readers who do get what I’m doing it will really get it, but there are some who just won’t get it. I’ve gotten mostly 5-star reviews on Miles of Files, and the latest one wrote “an impressive author.” That’s one of the greatest rewards for all that effort.
What or who has inspired and/or influenced you?
I’d say the greatest influences on my fiction were John Gardner, Kurt Vonnegut, and Hunter S. Thompson. I also love Balzac, Faulkner, and Fitzgerald.
If you had the chance, what piece of advice would you give your younger self?
“Stop worrying so much about all this stuff. Worry never helps anything, and it has never solved a problem. Just do the work to the best of your ability.”
When did you first realise the power of language?
I must have been about two or three. My parents read to me from a children’s book with a very generic title, The Bookshelf for Boys and Girls, but what a great book it was! It had all the classic Mother Goose material and a whole lot more. The alphabet section had these little rhymes for each letter – “A is for apple, apple pie-dy, nice inside-y, apple pie.” That kind of thing. I felt it incredibly compelling, funny, a great way to learn. Even the illustrations were cool.
And just for fun….
As a writer what would you choose as your avatar/spirit animal?
I think I actually used to have one of these, back when I was meditating a lot. Spirit guide, a spirit animal, a special place to go in your mind to meditate. I can’t remember what the animal was, though. I guess if I got to choose one, I’d go for something feline, like a Siberian tiger. Beautiful animals.
Early bird or night owl?
Total night owl. I’m not even really fully awake until after lunch time, but then I don’t wind down until past midnight.
What do you fear the most?
Thanks to my spiritual beliefs, I don’t suffer from the “big” fears (public speaking, death, etc.), but I’m still human, so I do have a few phobias: cockroaches, poisonous snakes, and claustrophobia.
The best gift you ever received?
As corny as this might sound, the love of my wife is the best gift I have ever received. And no, she’s not making me write this, and likely won’t even see this interview!
If you could choose a superpower, what would it be?
Definitely the ability to fly, or float, as one does in dreams. Look for more on that in my upcoming short story collection, Rides from Strangers. Anyone who joins my mailing list at msahno.com will get a free copy of the collection.
Thanks so much, Mike. Great answers!
About the book
In Miles of Files, the main character, Paul Panepinto, an employee at Flambet Insurance, learns that his manager Graham Woodcock is stealing from the company. Paul struggles with whether or not to report the boss at the risk of losing his position. Eventually, Graham fires Paul anyway and Paul is forced to pursue justice, but the story doesn’t end as expected. Readers move through a fast-paced adventure with many twists and turns, including high points, drama, comedy, and an edge that Sahno captures through his writing.
At 5:38 on the morning of his forty-first birthday, Graham Woodcock awakened to the sound of a cat retching. He heard three distinct thumps as the cat’s larynx contracted, then a sound with a different quality, liquid, gurgling: no doubt the discharge of some vomitous hairball. Or, worse, an entire meal. He saw it in his mind’s eye as he glared through the dark at the red numbers of the alarm clock.
When he finally decided to rise—after another hour’s sleep—he was roused not by the urgency of cat puke, but by the urgency of the breakfast hour. Not his—the cats’. One of them leapt on the bed and nuzzled his outstretched hand with phony affection, a clear message: get up, get up. Giddyup.
Graham crept into the kitchen, trailing the cats in darkness. He scanned the floor to avoid any cat vomit that might be there, but there was none. He flipped on lights and fed the cats, then wandered from room to room in search of vomit. Nothing.
He sat down to eat his breakfast, and everything was fine until one of the cats began to move its bowels while Graham was finishing his cereal. It was Truman, no doubt, whose bathroom routine was maddeningly predictable.
He decided to ignore it and finish the cereal in spite of the odor. Then Truman strutted into the kitchen, waving his tail like a dog. Somehow he’d managed to snake his tail across the gloppy pile of excrement in the litter pan, and a streak of it glistened in his fur like a grotesque flag.
The cat approached the breakfast nook, still switching his tail back and forth, and each motion left a faint brown brushstroke against the cream-colored paint. He created his own masterpiece right beneath the kitchen counter.
“NO, no, no. Shit,” Graham said, then realized the irony. He picked the cat up by the scruff of the neck—the only way he could hold him without getting himself painted—and carried him into the bathroom. “You little bastard.” He swallowed the urge to slam the cat against the wall.
“I hope this isn’t an indication of the kind of day it’s going to be.”
But it was. On the side of the bathtub stood a cockroach the size of Graham’s thumb. He froze, dropping the cat as the roach scampered down into the clean white tub. “Christ!”
He cranked the hot water all the way on to drown the brown beast, which swam around with frantic leg movements. At last it succumbed to the boiling hot water and floated toward the drain, which was too small for it.
“Why the hell did I ever come to this godforsaken swamp?” he muttered. “All I ever wanted was a nice house in the hills and a bit of crumpet on the side. Now I’m stuck in Florida with the cast of Deliverance, killing roaches that look like Harley fucking Davidson motorcycles. If it weren’t for the 401(k) program, I’d bloody well sod off.”
The Harley Davidson was dead now, and Graham grabbed it with a wad of toilet paper before flushing it. Unfortunately, he’d scalded himself in the process, and small pink welts like fever blisters rose on his arms.
He remembered the cat, and knew it was too late. Sure enough, as he walked from the bathroom he saw light brown feather-strokes at odd points on the burgundy carpet. Some were barely visible, like the first one he stepped on—with his bare foot, of course.
“Happy fucking birthday,” he said between his teeth.
About Michael J Sahno
Michael J. Sahno began writing stories at an early age. Eventually, he was selected for Editor-in-Chief of his high school literary magazine. The quality of his work led to several honorary titles and academic awards by his senior year, which made it clear he was destined to serve a role in literary excellence.
Mr. Sahno earned his Bachelor’s from Lynchburg College and later went on to earn his Master’s in English from Binghamton University.
After college, Mr. Sahno served in several management positions, including Director at a marketing research firm, Assistant Vice President at a Tampa-based mortgage company and college professor in the field of English composition.
Sahno became a full-time professional writer in 2001 and, in the following years, wrote more than 1,000 marketing articles on a wide range of topics. His experience with quality copy, research and resourcefulness put him in high demand in the business community across the southeastern United States. In fact, several of the publications with which he was associated won Addy Awards in 2008 and 2010.
Mr. Sahno has written and published three novels: Brothers’ Hand, Jana, and Miles of Files. He is the founder of Sahno Publishing and available for professional speaking engagements upon request.