Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Being Michael Walsh


Eighteen days into the Clarion West Write-a-Thon and I've written eighteen stories!  Nobody appears to be impressed, but that's a pretty good accomplishment.  And it's only going to get better.

Here's the latest, and every word of it true:

Being Michael Walsh
Michael Swanwick

The next book that you published was Being Gardner Dozois.

Michael Walsh:  God help us all.

This was an interview conducted by Michael Swanwick covering every work of short fiction that Dozois had written to date, right?  It got glowing reviews, as I recall.

Michael Walsh:  Yes, rave reviews.  So far as I could tell, the reviewers were the only ones who actually read the book.  It was not a money-maker.

Chiefly, it was about – what?

Michael Walsh:  Swanwick interviewed Dozois about every story he’d ever written, in order of publication.  What worked , what didn’t, and why it did or didn’t work.  You can think of it as a sort of postgraduate course for authors.  One quick read would make anybody a significantly better writer.  A close study would be enough to win you a Pulitzer, maybe even a Nobel someday.  If the book had sold better, the field of imaginative fiction would be in much better shape today.

But that’s a moot point now, of course.

It also contained secret Tantric sex techniques, did it not?

Michael Walsh:  With diagrams!  Techniques for eight-hour-long orgasms, tireless sexual energy, the lot, and all of it so clearly laid out you’d have to be a moron not to be able to employ them that very night.  Gardner had to go into hiding for a few years, as a result.  The Dalai Lama ordered him taken out for revealing the techniques to the world at large.  But finally, I managed to get a copy of the sales figures to his holiness and he called off the assassins.

As well as a sure-fire method for picking up total strangers and convincing them to have hot sex with you on the spot?

Michael Walsh:  You wouldn’t think it, to look at either of them, but that method really worked.  All three people who bought the book came back the next day to thank me.  One of them hadn’t gotten laid in years and yet when I spoke to him he had a drop-dead beautiful woman on either arm.  There were tears in his eyes, he was so grateful.

Also techniques for calling up ifrits and binding them to your will?

Michael Walsh:  I don’t know what Swanwick was thinking of when he asked those questions.  And Dozois should never have answered them.

You seem to have had an extraordinary run of bad luck with that book.

Michael Walsh:  I did.  I just couldn’t catch a break with it.

Finally, there’s a piece of urban legendry going around about diamonds in the binding.  Can you clarify that for us?

Michael Walsh:  Oh, that wasn’t an urban legend.  It turned out that there was a Japanese smuggling ring which had a member in the bindery I used.  They chose my book, pretty much at random, and hid several diamonds of the first water in the spines of roughly half the volumes.  The plan was to place a foreign order for the books and then launder the diamonds via Tokyo rare book stores.  But then through a series of bizarre coincidences, the books got shipped to me instead of to Japan, and the Yakuza involved were all arrested before they could recover them.  The details of the plan came out during the trial.  I read about it in the Washington Post.

That must have been an astonishing moment for you.

Michael Walsh:  Yeah.  Especially since one week before that I’d given up on the book and sent every copy I had to be pulped.


Above:  More chickens.  The one in the forefront is Lipstick, so named not only after the red at the tip of her beak but also because her owner suspects she may be a lesbian.  Chicken sexuality is a mysterious business.


Matthew Brandi said...

"Nobody appears to be impressed, but that's a pretty good accomplishment."

We were quietly impressed, which was supposed to be much better for your ego.

David Stone said...

One can only express their admiration so much without being called a "fanboy". This being the Internet and all...

Unknown said...

I've been having a good time reading these short-shorts. And chickens always please me (I have four backyard hens).

Michael Swanwick said...

My apologies. I wasn't fishing for compliments or complaining about my readers here. I was thinking of an overall lack of notice on the Web.

Which isn't important, of course. I just didn't have much of anything to say this morning.

Chad Hull said...

I am at a loss for words due to your awesomeness.