Axiom-man, also known as Gabriel Garrison, is a classic superhero in that he's got the whole secret identity thing happening and often can be found patrolling his city. What's cool is we get to see him as he grows as a hero- so many times we meet a superhero who is already well-versed in crime-fighting and his or her powers; not so with Gabriel who often finds himself being in over his head. Like any good hero though he is able to rise to the occasion and save the day as best he can. Axiom-man doesn't always win, and even when he doesn't sometimes the cost to himself is as great as the victory, but he keeps going. Perseverance in the face of adversity is a key trait for a hero- the ability to keep going in the face of overwhelming odds and not buckle under. Something that the author of the book has in common with his hero.
A.P Fuchs has self-published over 30 books of his own work in the last decade and, when he was acting as a publisher for others, over 100 more. Self-publishing has taken off since he started, or at least going independent has, but A.P Fuchs was one of the people who was there first and is still going strong.
To say his work was an influence on my own would be an understatement. Without picking up his books and seeing that it was possible to put your own stuff out there, that you didn't have to go running to a big name publisher to get your work out there, LEGACY and every other S17 title would not exist. He was the one who showed me that you CAN do it on your own. IF you're willing to put in the work. And there is A LOT of that. But as Mr. Fuchs will attest, it is more than worth it.
1. Thanks for taking the time to do this interview, I know how hard it can be to find even a few moments when you’re a self-publisher such as yourself, always on the go. Why don’t you give the readers a brief bio of yourself so they can get to know you a bit. Who is A.P Fuchs and what does he do?
Do I need to answer in the third person? Kidding.
I’m a fiction writer from Canada who once specialized in monster and superhero fiction, but has now switched gears and focuses on superhero fiction and sci-fi. I’ve been writing since 2000, published my first book in 2003, and am still writing and publishing even now. I used to run Coscom Entertainment, which specialized in the aforementioned superhero and monster fiction. Nowadays I still run the press, but no longer publish other people and am instead just focusing on my own work.
I’m also a self-publisher, something I kind of fell into back in 2004, and have been doing so ever since though I do sell short stories now and then.
2. As we’ve established you’re a writer who has gone the self-publishing route, what made you decide to go that route and what are some of the challenges and successes that you’ve had along the way?
In 2003, I paid a lot of money to another company to publish my book. It was a nightmare pretty much from beginning to end, but ironically I fell in love with the book-making process throughout it all. Since in high school I had decided to one day start my own comic book company—hence, self-publish my own comics—I decided to take that step and publish my fiction. I originally went the subsidy publishing route in 2003 because my book was constantly being rejected. Years later, I can see why. The story—the what-it-was-about—rocked, but the writing was terrible. So to have the ability to put out my own work without rejection was certainly part of the self-publishing appeal. And remember, this was back before self-publishing was fashionable. I was doing it back when if you mentioned to another writer you self-published you were sneered out. Now it seems all the rage these days.
From 2009 up until recently I was able to make a good fulltime living from self-publishing. That’s a success. Was able to put out a lot of books by both myself and others in that time, was able to live the dream of being a fulltime writer. Was my own boss, worked when I wanted, all that.
But things have changed hence the challenge part of my answer. The market is so, so flooded right now that I kind of got lost in the din and am now struggling to move titles. It has nothing to do with book quality or anything like that, but simply the overabundance of titles available to your average reader. I just read something the other day that there’s around 3500 books published daily. 3500. And apparently that’s not including eBooks. That’s crazy! How is someone supposed to stand out from that?
That’s why, I think, the new marketing platform for writers will be getting a group of devoted readers around them so the writer can count on those X amount of people to pick up each and every new release. There’s different ways to develop that and I’m trying some things out now to bring it to pass.
3. Axiom-man. Who is he? Why his story? Why Winnipeg?
Axiom-man is an independent superhero character I created when I was kid delivering the newspaper. I’d have this superhero fantasy running in my head while I was going door-to-door and, in 2006, started committing that story to paper. That’s the short version of how he came to be. I wrote an essay called “Why I Write Superhero Fiction” and it goes into more detail as to Axiom-man’s real-world backstory. It’s available on my website.
As for his fictional backstory, his real name is Gabriel Garrison and one night over a fit of insomnia, he goes to turn on his computer to check email. Nothing new. Suddenly, the monitor lights up and shoots out a being made of pure energy whom only identifies himself as a “messenger.” He then zaps Gabriel and is gone. What Gabriel ends up finding out was he was given superhuman abilities—flight, super strength, shooting energy beams from his eyes—and has to decide what to do with them. That’s part of the storyline from the first novel and its novella prequel, First Night Out.
However, as part of the first novel, a new superhero shows up on the scene, Redsaw, who is more powerful than Axiom-man and, soon, ends up winning the city’s favor, kind of pushing Axiom-man out of the limelight. The strange part is Axiom-man is physically unsettled when around Redsaw and has to find out what’s really going on. Soon he’s drawn into a cosmic war that’s been raging since before Time began, and it’s this war that later novels in the series get into.
Axiom-man is a soldier for Good in that war and is gearing up to one day fulfill his destiny to ensure the power of Good triumphs in the end.
It’s a finite story, with 50 books planned: 25 regular-length novels with 25 novella-length stories in between. So far there are 7 books out total. It’s meant to be a lifetime work. I’m currently formulating the next 4 now, which will be a four-part story arc, a first for the series because up until now, though each book makes up a greater whole, each book stands alone and readers can jump in at any point.
Axiom-man’s story appeals to me because part of it is about the struggle not only between Good and Evil—of which I’ve always been fascinated with—but also the struggle that is life. Face it: each of us have our own things we need to deal with, big and small. I wanted to explore some of life’s challenges in the series and, hopefully, bring comfort to readers who might be going through the same thing and/or can relate to the challenges presented in some way.
Winnipeg. Why not Winnipeg? I grew up here. It’s a big small town and I like writing about it. Most all of my work takes place here so it made sense to me to stage Axiom-man’s adventures here as well. The city also suits Axiom-man’s character because when we first meet him he’s very unsure of himself and is still finding his superhero footing, so to have him in a smaller city like Winnipeg as opposed to New York or Chicago or Toronto—or even a made up bustling metropolis—seems to fit him quite well. I actually briefly make mention in the first book as to why he’s comfortable with Winnipeg compared to going someplace bigger given what he can do.
4. You’ve mentioned that you have plenty of stories to tell about Axiom-man’s adventures, where are you taking the stories next? And in what formats?
Though I’d like to finish the comic series, at this point I’m sticking to the novels and novellas for now.
As mentioned, I’m formulating a four-part story arc and it’s going to be a turning point for the character. See, the premise of the series was the idea of what being a superhero with superpowers would really be like in the real world, as if this stuff, say, happened tomorrow. It’s kind of a slice of life series in that way and I don’t always play up the fantastic side of superheroing, but also get into the everyday stuff as well, or have him stop generic crimes instead of always going up against a major mastermind or something.
Anyway, this upcoming arc will upgrade the character, so to speak, and bring him to the next level in his superhero career. I can’t reveal how, but I assure you it’s going to be an exciting ride. I’m also going to be wrapping up all loose ends with this four-parter, so subplots from the books currently available will be all tied up as well.
I will say there’s going to be a lot of fighting, tons of action, romance, martial arts, and I’m getting into more detail about the Enhancer, which was introduced in Underground Crusade.
Sort of how Doorway of Darkness was a turning point for the series, so too this arc will be as well.
Lots of surprises to come along with a new villain.
5. Have you ever considered writing a different superhero? Either your own or someone else’s?
Yep. I have plans for someone introduced in The Axiom-man Saga. For those who’ve read it, you might know who as I made it kind of obvious.
On a personal note, I kinda like the idea of doing a new hero, sort of “starting fresh” and bringing into that story all of the experience of superhero prose writing I’ve gained thus far. It also gives me the chance to create a new mythos for a character and put into play elements that I enjoy but might not be fitting for someone like Axiom-man.
6. Self-publishing is something that you are very passionate about- you’ve even written a couple books on the topic. What is it that appeals to you so much? If you had to give ONE piece of advice to someone considering doing it, what would it be?
I’m a do-it-yourselfer by nature so I think it’s the idea of creating something from scratch without outside help that appeals to me. Granted, I do hire things out like editing and cover art, but otherwise I take care of all the rest. Perhaps it’s the idea of doing something/making something on my own terms as opposed to trying to fit into a mass market mold. I’m not saying that’s a recipe for success because to be successful in this business, you need to go mainstream and write popular stuff. I write on the fringe for the most part so self-publishing allows me to publish work that wouldn’t otherwise get picked up by a larger press. That, and, frankly, I’m done with trying to be this fantastic success. I really don’t care these days and am instead just fine doing my own thing so don’t want to play the submission game anymore, that is, send out queries and manuscripts, etc. and hope for a big contract. I just want to write my stuff, get it out there, then move onto the next thing. I have a strong opposition to money and success as a driving factor in someone’s life. I’ve been down that road and know how it can destroy a person. I also worked in the financial sector and have seen how the almighty dollar can consume people. It’s disgusting and it’s wrong.
For me, I want to get back to basics these days and I remember what is was like just starting out and all that mattered was the story I was writing. All the headaches of publishing weren’t there and it was such a magical time. I want to get back to that, get back to the craft, get back to basics. I think thinking and/or obsessing about the publishing side of things—traditional or self- —can cause more harm than good if you let it. Like I said, I’ve walked down that road and don’t want to travel it anymore.
That said, I have two pieces of advice for the would-be self-publisher and they are this: one, research like crazy what self-publishing is, what it takes and what you can expect. Read about the successes, read about the challenges, and decide if it’s for you. If you’re not entrepreneurial by nature, you’ll have a hard time with it. If you’re a hands-on kind of person, you probably will enjoy it. Which brings me to goal-setting. Clearly establish what your career goals are because each goal takes a different path. Find your goal then research the path to get there.
That’s the short version.
7. You like to cook- what are some of your more tasty specialties? Any chance of a cookbook being added to your ever expanding list of books?
A cookbook one day would be nice. I really don’t know much about making them though they seem straightforward.
Cooking has been a creative outlet for me since 2009 and I cook 6 days a week up here in the North.
Some of my faves to make are standard stuff like fried chicken, burgers, etc. But in terms of more exotic dishes, my wife taught me to make is sinigang, which is a Filipino sour soup. I usually make it with chicken and it’s served over rice. She and I also make spring rolls together. She makes the filling then we roll ’em up and fry them.
Also a fan of shrimp gumbo, whether my own version or Chef Michael Smith’s rendition. (It was his recipe that got me started on it.)
A lot of the cooking I do now is based on seeing what I have on hand, then pre-tasting it in my head, then making it into a reality.
Oh, also a chili fan and I just made my own chili sauce the other week. Spicy stuff.
8. Comic book movies are another passion of yours- what are you Top 5 all-time favorites?
In order? Hard to say, but my top two for the number one spot is either Man of Steel or Watchmen. All depends if I’m in an action mood or a drama mood. The Dark Knight Trilogy is also incredible, especially the second one. A movie that doesn’t get mentioned enough is The Incredibles. It’s near perfect and I’m so thrilled they’re finally making a sequel.
9. While we’re on the topic of comic books, what books do you read?
Due to budget constraints, I dropped nearly everything from my pull list except for Nightwing (which is now cancelled). I was reading Justice League, Batgirl, Batman, Supreme, and a few others. The big thing I’m into is indie comics. I’m a huge fan of John Porcellino’s King-Cat series as well as Alec Longstreth’s Phase 7. Julia Wertz’s Fart Party comics are also gold, and recently I discovered Max West, who does Sunnyville Stories. I also really dig Harvey Pekar’s American Splendor and have several of those collections. Same with Eddie Campbell’s Alec: The Years Have Pants.
Of course, there are your comic books as well.
It just seems to me that indie comics have a ton more heart than their commercial counterparts. So much care and love goes into them. The mainstream stuff feels empty. Only once in a while—at least from the stuff I’ve read—a story with soul comes along. Like you had mentioned to me a long time ago, the Shazam backup in Justice League had heart. I totally agree.
Thanks for having me on the blog. Was fun. Readers can find me on the web at my site at www.canisterx.com, and there it’ll point you to my Facebook and Twitter. I also have a newsletter, of which seven issues have gone out so far. It’s called The Canister X Transmission and in it I cover musings on the writing life, some fanboy stuff, and offer publishing and marketing tips. Sign up is free and it can be found, along with back issues, at www.tinyletter.com/apfuchs