Monday, February 26, 2007

HEIDI'S PICK SIX - MIKE RESNICK

HEIDI'S PICK SIX

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Mike Resnick

1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
Lucifer Jones has been my favorite since the moment I created him back in the early 1980s. He’s appeared in 3 books so far – Adventures, Exploits, and Encounters – and is currently working his way through a 4th book, HAZARDS, in the pages of Argosy, ADVENTURE, and Subterranean. His titles tell it all: “The Clubfoot of Notre Dame”, “The Insidious Oriental Dentist”, “The Island of Annoyed Souls”, and so on.

2. Tell me about your travels.
We love Africa, and have been to Kenya 4 times, and Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Egypt once each. We’ve been to England and France a number of times, to Canada a few times, Mexico a couple of times, and have been on a number of Caribbean islands, of which our favorites are Jamaica, and probably Barbados and Petit St. Vincent. And I got to spend a week in Slovakia when I was a guest at a con there that Carol was unable to attend. I still want to see the Tahitian islands, especially Bora Bora and Moorea, and Carol still wants to cruise the Greek islands. But now that we’re in our mid-60s, I think except for that and the occasional foreign convention, we’ll do most of our touring in the USA.

3. Coffee, tea, or milk?
80% of the time, coffee (and I especially like iced coffee with cream and a straw when I’m having a meal). Milk 20% of the time. Tea never, not even in Chinese restaurants.

4. What else can you do besides write?
Read a bit, travel a bit, watch sports a bit, go to an occasional play or, less often, a movie. Mostly I write. You can’t produce as much as I’ve produced and have a lot of time left over. In our younger days, we bred and exhibited collies, and had 23 champions in a 12-year period. We named most of them after science fiction books and characters. The two champions in the photo I’m attaching – it was taken in 1975; I don’t look quite like that any more – were Ch. The Gray Lensman and Ch. Silverlock.
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5. Who are you reading right now?
Seriously Funny, a wonderful history of the untraditional, intellectual comedians who appeared in the early 1950s and were pretty much through showing up by 1965 – Mort Sahl, Severn Darden, Jean Shepherd, Tom Lehrer, Nichols & May, all the ones I used to watch and listen to at every opportunity, and who would be totally out of place today, when being dirty counts for much more than being funny.

6. Pop culture or academia?
How about: my notion of pop culture, which may not fully agree with anyone else’s? But never academia.

7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?
Probably the first sex scene I wrote. I felt like all the readers were peeking into my bedroom. 5,000 sex scenes later – I wrote and sold a couple of hundred anonymous “adult” novels in my starving-writer days back in the 1960s and early 1970s – it didn’t bother me a bit.

8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
I love to write. Some writers hate writing but love having written. Me, I get no particular kick out of seeing my name in print…but I love the act of putting words down on paper and arranging them so that they affect people. That’s my kick – to read what I wrote at the end of the work day (in my case, about 6:00 AM) and realize that it came out almost the way I’d hoped it would when I sat down to work.

9. Food you could eat everyday.
Food I do eat just about every day: cheeseburgers and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Food I would love to eat every day: veal parmesan, shrimp de jongue, lobster thermidore, beef stroganof, duck in orange sauce.

10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?
Carol says that if they score it, I’ll watch it. True, except for baseball, which lost me forever after the 1994 strike. Many years and many pounds ago I played Little League baseball, was on my high school’s football team, and won 3 letters on the fencing team at the University of Chicago.

11. What kind of music speaks to you?
I have a vast collection of show music – Broadway, off Broadway, bootlegs of shows that never made it to New York. My favorite composer/lyricists are Stephen Sondheim, Tom Jones & Harvey Schmidt, William Finn, and Michael Legrand & anybody (he works with a lot of lyricists.) I also like a lot of music from the 1940s – the Andrews Sisters, Helen O’Connell, Xaviuer Cugat’s Orchestra, others. I hate all forms of rock, and figure all good popular music ended the first day some jerk plugged his guitar into a socket.


12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
I always know what I’m going to say, if not exactly how I’m going to say it. My characters never run off with the stories. I pull the strings, they do the song and dance.

13. Celebrity crush.
Sophia Loren. Still. Even at seventy-something.

14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?
Robert Sheckley, Robert Ludlum, Alexander Lake, Catherine L. Moore, probably a dozen others I can’t think of right now but would instantly agree with if someone else suggested them.

15. Do you still watch cartoons?
No.

Locus, the trade journal of science fiction, keeps a list of the winners of major science fiction awards on its web page. In the short fiction category, Mike Resnick is currently the leading award winner, living or dead, in the all-time standings. When novels are added, he is fourth on the all-time list, ahead of Sir Arthur C. Clarke, Robert A. Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, and Philip K. Dick.

Mike was born on March 5, 1942. He sold his first article in 1957, his first short story in 1959, and his first book in 1962. He attended the University of Chicago from 1959 through 1961, won 3 letters on the fencing team, and met and married Carol. Their daughter, Laura, was born in 1962, and has since become a writer herself, winning 2 awards for her romance novels and the 1993 Campbell Award for Best New Science Fiction Writer.

Mike and Carol discovered science fiction fandom in 1962, attended their first Worldcon in 1963, and 81 sf books into his career, Mike still considers himself a fan and frequently contributes articles to fanzines. He and Carol appeared in five Worldcon masquerades in the 1970s in costumes that she created, and won four of them.

Mike labored anonymously but profitably from 1964 through 1976, selling more than 200 novels, 300 short stories and 2,000 articles, almost all of them under pseudonyms, most of them in the "adult" field. He edited 7 different tabloid newspapers and a pair of men's magazines, as well.

In 1968 Mike and Carol became serious breeders and exhibitors of collies, a pursuit they continued through 1981. (Mike is still an AKC-licensed collie judge.) During that time they bred and/or exhibited 27 champion collies, and were the country's leading breeders and exhibitors during various years along the way. This led them to purchase the Briarwood Pet Motel in Cincinnati in 1976. It was the country's second-largest luxury boarding and grooming establishment, and they worked full-time at it for the next few years. By 1980 the kennel was being run by a staff of 21, and Mike was free to return to his first love, science fiction, albeit at a far slower pace that his previous writing. They sold the kennel in 1993.

Mike's first novel in this "second career" was The Soul Eater, which was followed shortly by Birthright: The Book of Man, Walpurgis III, the 4-book Tales of the Galactic Midway series, The Branch, the 4-book Tales of the Velvet Comet series, and ADVENTURES, all from Signet. His breakthrough novel was the international bestseller Santiago, published by Tor in 1986. Tor has since published Stalking the Unicorn, The Dark Lady, Ivory, Second Contact, Paradise, Purgatory, Inferno, the Double Bwana/Bully!, and the collection, Will the Last Person to Leave the Planet Please Shut Off the Sun? His most recent Tor releases were A Miracle of Rare Design, A Hunger in the Soul, The Outpost, and the The Return of Santiago.

Even at his reduced rate, Mike was too prolific for one publisher, and in the 1990s Ace published Soothsayer, Oracle and Prophet, Questar published Lucifer Jones, Bantam brought out the Locusbestselling trilogy of The Widowmaker, The Widowmaker Reborn, and The Widowmaker Unleashed, and Del Rey published Kirinyaga: A Fable or Utopia and Lara Croft, Tomb Raider: The Amulet of Power. He has recently completed A Gathering of Widowmakers for Meisha Merlin, Dragon America for Phobos, Lady with an Alien and A Club in Montmartre for Watson-Guptill, and Starship: Mutiny, Starship: Pirate, and New Dreams for Old for Pyr. He has most recently delivered World Behind the Door to Watson-Guptill, and STARSHIP: MERCENARY to Pyr.

Beginning with Shaggy B.E.M. Stories in 1988, Mike has also become an anthology editor (and was nominated for a Best Editor Hugo in 1994 and 1995). His list of anthologies in print and in press totals more than 35, and includes Alternate Presidents, Alternate Kennedys, Sherlock Holmes in Orbit, By Any Other Fame, Dinosaur Fantastic, Down These Dark Spaceways, and Christmas Ghosts, plus the recent Stars, co-edited with superstar singer Janis Ian.

Mike has always supported the "specialty press", and has numerous books and collections out in limited editions from such diverse publishers as Phantasia Press, Axolotl Press, Misfit Press, Pulphouse Publishing, Wildside Press, Dark Regions Press, NESFA Press, WSFA Press, Obscura Press, Farthest Star, and others. He recently spent two years as the science fiction editor for BenBella Books.

Mike was never interested in writing short stories early in his career, producing only 7 between 1976 and 1986. Then something clicked, and he has written and sold more than 140 stories since 1986, and now spends more time on short fiction than on novels. The writing that has brought him the most acclaim thus far in his career is the "Kirinyaga" series, which, with 64 major and minor awards and nominations to date, is the most honored series of stories in the history of science fiction. In 2007 Mike became the Executive Editor of Jim Baen's Universe.

He has been a prolific writer of non-fiction as well. He wrote a 4-part series, "Forgotten Treasures", to The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, produced 59 installments of the how-to column, "Ask Bwana" for Speculations, has (with Barry Malzberg) produced 32 installments of "The Resnick/Malzberg Dialogues" to date for the SFWA Bulletin, wrote a bi-weekly column for the late, lamented GalaxyOnline.com, and will now be writing editorials and columns for Jim Baen's Universe.

Carol has always been Mike's uncredited collaborator on his science fiction, but in the past few years they have sold two movie scripts -- SANTIAGO and THE WIDOWMAKER, both based on Mike's books -- and Carol -is- listed as his collaborator on those. Readers of Mike's works are aware of his fascination with Africa, and the many uses to which he has put it in his science fiction. Mike and Carol have taken numerous safaris, visiting Kenya (4 times), Tanzania, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Egypt, Botswana, and Uganda, and have two more planned for the next four years. Mike
edited the Library of African Adventure series for St. Martin's Press, and is currently editing The Resnick Library of African Adventure, and, with Carol as co-editor, The Resnick Library of Worldwide Adventure, for Alexander Books.

Since 1989, Mike has won five Hugo Awards (for "Kirinyaga", "The Manamouki", "Seven Views of Olduvai Gorge", "The 43 Antarean Dynasties", and "Travels With My Cats:), a Nebula Award (for "Seven Views of Olduvai Gorge"), and has been nominated for 28 Hugos, 11 Nebulas, a Clarke British, and six Seiun-shos (Japanese). He has also won a Seiun-sho, a Prix Tour Eiffel (French), 2 Prix Ozones (French), 10 HOmer Awards, an Alexander Award, a Golden Pagoda Award, a Hayakawa SF Award (Japanese), a Locus Award, 3 Ignotus Awards (Spanish), a Futura Award (Croatian), an El Melocoton Mechanico (Spanish), 2 Sfinks Awards (Polish), a Fantastyka Award (Polish), a Xatafi-Cyberdark Award (Spanish), and has topped the Science Fiction Chronicle Poll six times, the Scifi Weekly Hugo Straw Poll three times, and the Asimov's Readers Poll five times. In 1993 he was awarded the Skylark Award for Lifetime Achievement in Science Fiction, and in 2001 and 2004 he was named Fictionwise.com's Author of the Year in open competition with Dan Brown, Stephen King, Robert Ludlum, Louis L'Amour, Robert A. Heinlein, Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov.

His work has been translated into French, Italian, German, Spanish, Japanese, Korean, Bulgarian, Hungarian, Hebrew, Russian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, Czech, Dutch, Swedish, Romanian, Finnish, Chinese, and Croatian.

He was recently the subject of Fiona Kelleghan's massive Mike Resnick: An Annotated Bibliography and Guide to His Work. Adrienne Gormley is currently working on the second edition.

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