RA: Tell us about the Manthycore stories.
ME: The Servant of the Manthycore is a fantasy set in bronze-age Mesopotamia. The Servant is a woman who is enslaved to a terrible beast who eats human flesh, but does not care to hunt for it. For centuries she takes groups of men out into the desert and kills them. Her only hope is that she can someday find someone who can kill her and the beast, and so free her lover that the manthycore holds preserved to compel her service, but the lifetimes of killing have made her a legendary warrior. It is a story about the terrible things that people do for love.
RA: Do you write full time or would you like to? What other creative outlets do you have for pay or pleasure?
ME: I have written full-time in the past, as a reporter and as a free-lancer. My day job right now is as a systems engineer and I really enjoy what I do. Still, if I get caught up in my work and don’t write for a while I get very antsy, something that doesn’t happen the other way around. I spent almost a decade in the 80’s as a comedian and I sometimes act if something that interests me comes up, though that is usually just for the glory.
RA: When did you start writing, and what's your favorite genre?
ME: My mom is a writer, and like most kids I assumed that what my parents did was perfectly normal. I made my first magazine sale while I was still in my teens and my first international sale right after that. I was a reporter for a while, and I have written nearly everything from tech manuals to poetry. I suspect the tech manuals were easier to read! Right now I am really enjoying the reader response to The Servant of the Manthycore, so fantasy has become my favorite.
RA: Any new projects in the works?
ME: The sequel, of course. I am in a unique place in that the nature of the narrative is episodic, so I can plug new stories into the next novel pretty easily. Also it’s not what happens next; it is what happens while the Servant and her adopted daughter Miri search for the Tears of Ishtar, growing out of the novella at the heart of The Servant of the Manthycore. So the timeline is at right angles to the first book. A couple of magazines and an anthology have asked for Servant stories, so anything else will have to wait for a while.
RA: Any advice for upcoming writers?
ME: Just to keep writing. You usually have to write a lot of very bad stuff before you develop the skills and find your voice. Just keep shoveling away - there really is a pony in there somewhere. Early on someone told my mom that most writers don’t make a sale until around their sixth novel. This was meant to be discouraging, but she decided it meant that she needed to hurry up and finish those other five. Sooner or later the publisher fairy will whack you over the head with her wand.
RA: Where can fans find more of your work?
ME: Any one who has a question about the Servant stories, the history or philosophy behind them or about writing is welcome to email me at servantofthemanthycore @ hotmail . com or leave a comment on my blog where I check in every day. I also post regularly at SFReader.com, a very lively and informative forum.
A project like The Servant of the Manthycore ends up involving and touching an amazing number of people. I have been blessed with a great publisher, Bill Snodgrass from DEP, an astounding illustrator, Rachel Marks (read ResAliens' interview with Rachel in last month's issue), and help along the way ranging from some of the biggest names in the fantasy world to folks most readers have never heard of. Every one of them was put into my path at just the right time. Writing can be a very solitary pursuit, but it doesn’t have to be a lonely one.
RA: Michael, best wishes on your new release. It's available at Amazon, of course. But if readers want a sample chapter, The Sword Review has published this teaser. Thanks again for sharing with us your passion and current project.