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jeff ford
Posted on Wednesday, November 17, 2004 - 07:30 am:   

Michael: Just got this month's Locus the other day, and lo and behold, who did I see on the cover? Great interview. I really enjoyed reading it, and was pleased to find mention of some of your fiction I'd been unaware of.
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Nathan Ballingrud
Posted on Wednesday, November 17, 2004 - 08:53 am:   

Yeah, good interview. It's refreshing for a new writer like myself to learn that some of the concerns and doubts I have come with being a writer, not just being new. And, you know, don't tell anyone, but I actually gasped when you mentioned my name. It was very kind; thank you, man.
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m.
Posted on Friday, November 19, 2004 - 05:07 am:   

Thanks, both of you. I hadn't really wanted to be interviewed back in March, primarily becuase I had nothing much coming out -- with the exception of the nonfiction collection from PS Publishing -- but Charlie insisted because we don't see each other that often, and so the interview turned out to resemble a therapy session, I think, rather than a cogent defense of my working methods or an overview of my plans for the future. Anyway, Charlie and Jennifer were cheaper than a psychiatrist . . .
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Andrew Fox
Posted on Wednesday, December 01, 2004 - 10:08 am:   

Dear Mike,

I also found the interview to be very informative and, in an odd way, both encouraging and comforting. It's very helpful, at this beginning stage of my own writing career, to read memoirs and reflections such as yours that help me to understand that even big breaks (winning a Nebula Award, having rights to one's book purchased by a major studio) don't necessarily lead to the promised land of a Worry-Free Career. Even though one may dream of being tapped on the forehead by a fairy godmother and gifted with a career as successful as Michael Chabon's, it's healthier, I think, to expect to be busting one's hump down in the trenches for the long haul. Actually, at least so far as being an SF/fantasy writer, serving one's time down in the trenches definitely has its rewards -- spiritual and social, if not necessarily financial. During my two short years as a published writer, I've gotten to meet and befriend some wonderful writers whom I've admired for years, including Barry Malzberg, Lucius Shephard, and Robert Sheckley. Organizers and fans at conventions have given me and my family a warm and welcoming embrace wherever we've traveled. We've made lots of new friends, including dear friends in the Memphis area who took us in when we were temporarily made refugees by Hurricane Ivan. On my bookstore tours, I've met dozens of intelligent, enthusiastic store employees and readers who have made the expense and long drives worthwhile (mostly, anyway).

I'm very pleased to read that you have a collection of nonfiction coming out, and that its centerpiece will be a tribute to your childhood joys reading Ray Bradbury. Ray is very important to me, too; more than anyone else, he was responsible for igniting my love of written SF and fantasy (and thus indirectly responsible for my current career). My dad bought me a paperback copy of A Medicine for Melancholy at a newsstand so that I'd have something to read during a sixth grade bus trip from Miami to Sea Camp in the Florida Keys. I picked it out because it had an illustration of a dinosaur on the cover. Turned out to be one of the best reading choices I ever made. Those stories were absolutely magical for me, and within a few months I'd read just about every other Ray Bradbury book available in paperback. Then I discovered Robert Silverberg and Anne McCaffrey and J. G. Ballard and Harlan Ellison and Ursula K. Le Guin. . . and apart from eight years or so when I limited my reading habit to "mainstream" lit-rah-ture, I haven't stopped reading that crazy Buck Rogers stuff ever since.
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m.
Posted on Thursday, December 02, 2004 - 06:43 am:   

Dear Andrew,

Thanks for the extended comments. I hope A Reverie for Mister Ray won't disappoint you, if you ever have a chance to see it; the opening essay discusses my introduction to Bradbury's work via the same collection you cite, A Medicine for Melancholy, and also some of my disillusionment with him as he and I both changed over the years. I still consider the volume a tribute to him, but he might well regard it in a different light, as it doesn't eschew criticizing certain unchanging, perhaps all-too-familiar aspects of his style and approach. In any event, I still feel a terrific debt to the man, whatever my take on his current short-story writing or the quirks that make him who he is. Thanks, too, for suggesting that highlighting the vicissitudes of a writing career, as well as its potential successes, may prove helpful. Right now I'm compiling an index to this nonfiction volume and thinking that I am indeed "busting [my] hump down in the trenches," when I'd rather be reading the essays of Montaigne. But so it goes.

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