Here is the first installment of my interview with Michael Ehart, author of The Servant of the Manthycore. I'm really jazzed about this collection of stories set in the ancient Near East and highly suggest that anyone interested in fantasy get a copy of it.
What path did you take toward becoming a writer?
It is a family curse!--- my mother is a romance writer, and like most kids, I thought what my parents did was perfectly normal. I sold my first magazine story at around age 15, nearly 40 years ago and made my first international sale around the same time. I’ve taken occasional breaks for the purpose of actually making a living, but I have also supported myself as a newspaper reporter, a technical writer, and for several years had a movie review column that ran in a dozen papers.
Is it a difficult transition to go from reporter to fiction writer?
In the end it all comes down to words in a line. The skills involved are not exactly the same, but the ability to write good sentences arranged in coherent paragraphs that tell a story carries over. The most valuable skill involved has got to be the ability to not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Many writers, especially those starting out, tend to overwork and over analyze what they write. While it is important to fix persistent mistakes, you can pretty easily suck the life out of a story through too many revisions.
What changes have you seen in your early writing and what you're doing now?
I like to think it has improved! Early on I wrote very little fiction. I discovered that in the non-fiction world you could pre-sell a story to a magazine, which was enormously appealing, especially when I could look at my mother’s experiences in the realm of fiction. Rejection is a writer’s first experience, but you can gather a lot more of that rejection experience very quickly writing fiction.
In terms of the stories I tell, there has been a considerable growth in both how I tell a story and the risks I am willing to take with characters and situations. I have a lot more in life experiences and observations to bring to the table than even ten years ago, and therefore write with a much more confident voice than I did. One of the kindest things that anyone has said about my writing was in Michael Moorcock’s foreword to The Servant of the Manthycore, where he said, “The genre story usually dodges the facts of genuine tragedy while the myth, or the story which retains the quality of myth, does not.” Even ten years ago, in many ways I was faking it. Now I am more likely to have a foundation of real truth in the tales I spin.
It's Michael Ehart Week! Tune in tomorrow for the continuation.