Friday, June 03, 2011

PATHS TO PUBLICATION: Michael Bracken

PATHS TO PUBLICATION

As part of the virtual book tour for Many Genres, One Craft, I have more contributor interviews this week: Victoria Thompson, Albert Wendland, Michael Bracken, David Shifren, and Venessa Giunta.

When I was in the eighth grade I knew I wanted to be a writer. I was a ninth grader when I had a poem published in my junior high school literary magazine. I contributed to my high school literary magazine, wrote for and later edited my high school newspaper, and contributed to an underground newspaper published by fellow high school students.

While in high school, a friend and I started publishing a science fiction fanzine—Knights of the Paper Space Ship; the name was ultimately truncated to Knights—and because of Knights I "met" several writers and would-be writers. For example, Charles L. Grant, Thomas F. Monteleone, and Grant Carrington were columnists, and I published work by Robert Bloch, David Gerrold, Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, and other writers who were well known or who later became well known within the science fiction genre.

During high school and for some time after high school, my primary goal was to become a science fiction writer, and I submitted regularly to science fiction fanzines, semi-prozines, and professional magazines. I placed short stories and other writing in many of them. But none of my "sales" to that point were to professional publications.

In 1976, after having a handful of stories rejected from Amazing, Asimov’s, and F&SF because they were "juvenile"—that is, they featured children as protagonists—I started submitting my work to children’s magazines. I finally sold "The Magic Stone" to Young World, a young adult publication, and the story was published in November 1978.

I was still a teenager when I made that first professional sale, but it came after years of submission and rejection, years of writing and revising, and years spent learning everything I could about publishing. What I learned is that it doesn’t matter how old you are when you start writing. What matters is how hard you want to be published and how hard you’re willing to work for it.

--Michael Bracken

Michael Bracken is the author of 11 books, including All White Girls, Deadly Campaign, and Tequila Sunrise. More than 800 of his short stories have been published worldwide. His “Dreams Unborn” was named one of The Best American Mystery Stories 2005 and “All My Yesterdays” received a Derringer Award. Bracken edited five crime fiction anthologies whose stories have been short-listed for the Anthony, Derringer, Edgar, and Shamus awards. Bracken served as V.P. of both the Private Eye Writers of America and the Mystery Writers of America’s Southwest chapter. He also belongs to the Horror Writers Association and Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Bracken received his B.A. in Professional Writing from Baylor University.


Michael is a contributor to Many Genres, One Craft: Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction, a writing guide edited by Michael A. Arnzen and Heidi Ruby Miller and based on the Seton Hill University Writing Popular Fiction graduate program.

5 comments:

  1. It's wonderful to hear how you pursued your childhood dream successfully into adulthood. Not many can say that!

    Thank you stopping by, Michael!

    -Heidi

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  2. I'm impressed, Michael! I was drawn to science fiction as a teen too, and those are some impressive names you published!

    My first published story was a short science fiction story in a fan magazine. Great way to learn the craft.

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  3. Susan, I love SF, too, though I don't write much short fiction and when I do, it's almost always fantasy--go figure. I guess I save the SF for the long stuff. ;)

    Thanks for stopping by!

    -Heidi

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  4. It's always interesting to me the number of writers who started young, in high school or college, working on all sorts of student magazines. It's the best way to learn the craft. Thanks for the life story, MIchael. You're probably the most productive writer I know.

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  5. Thanks for stopping by, Susan!

    I wonder if most writers knew they wanted to be writers from an early age. I did, but then pursued completely different career paths in college before coming back to writing. It's that draw of story-telling I suppose.

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