Interview with the excellent Mike Flynn!
1) All the Sad Puppies selections came from a list of stories that fans felt were their favorites from 2014. What about your story do you think brought it to the attention of whomever suggested it?
Not a clue. I’ve been nominated before and always figured there were enough ANALOG readers to mention them; but one nominee appeared in ASIMOVs, so go figure.
2) What kind of stories do you write normally write? Is your nominated story in that tradition? Or is it a departure for you?
Somewhat hard or high-viscosity SF; but I have been all over the map: alt. hist,. hard near future, far future space opera, time travel, biologicals. I’ve even written a fantasy or two. One reader complained about an earlier novel that I spent too much time on character development when all he wanted was “content.” This is an odd complaint for a hard SF writer to receive. The nominated story is a “lost colony” story, part of a series. Don’t know if it’s a departure or not. When you’re all over the map, it’s hard to know when you’ve departed..
3) When did you start writing?
When I was 10. In pencil. In Spiral notebooks. Also placed a couple stories in the high school literary magazine; but I was the editor, so that doesn’t really count. Thankfully did not sell until 1984 or thereabouts. First novel was 1990. But basically there was no time when I was not writing.
4) What do you do in life other than write?
I was a statistician/quality engineer, then a consultant in management of quality. Clients in many industries and overseas locales — all of which provided grist for the stories. Am now nominally retired, but available for training material development.
5) Who do you feel influenced your work? What other authors do you look up to? Whose work brought delight to your reading life?
Read Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke, Norton growing up. People have complained that my work is like too many others, claiming to find the influence of different authors in different stories, including sometimes authors I have never read! I admire the works of Poul Anderson, deCamp, Brunner, and others; of contemporaries: McDevitt, Steele, Kress, Turtledove, the late Dr. Sheffield. If I think longer, I’ll come up with more. Harry Turtledove once said that while both he and I were influenced by deCamp and Anderson, he saw more Anderson in me and more deCamp in himself.
6) Can you fill in the blank? “You might enjoy my work if you are a fan of ______.”
Heinlein? Maybe Poul Anderson?
7) How did you come up with the idea for your current nominated story?
A supporting character in Up Jim River had a backstory in which he had journeyed across the face of his home world before making contact with an interstellar trade ship. That gave me the notion of telling his story. The idea is that as he travels east he encounters progressively more technologically advanced cultures. “In the Stone House” was the second of these stories and was originally was the first half of a longer story the second half of which (“Against the Green”) appeared in the succeeding issue of ANALOG.
8) Care to share with us any glimpses what you are working on for the future?
- Trying to cut the fourth Journeyman story (“In the Great North Woods”) down to publishable size.
- Short stories titled “Nexus” (kinda serious) and “Laminated Moose Zombies” (not). Both about half done.
- A short story collaboration with another writer about which I am saying nothing more at present.
- I promised to write a short story set on a colonized, near future Moon. Hmm. Better get crack-a-lacking on that.
- A novel The Shipwrecks of Time hung up at about a third done (depending on the definition of “done.” Part 1 (“Old Books”) will probably become a complete novel despite my best intentions). Part I is set in the mid-1960s in Milwaukee and involves odd hints found by historians in the chanson of Ogier the Dane and in a lost 14th century manuscript known as “The Peruzzi Manuscript.”
- A novel The Chieftain set in 13th cent. Connaught is a fantasy in which the magic is Christian prayers and saintly interventions. It’s only a couple chapters now but an earlier and more amateur version exists “complete” from college days.
Thank you, Mr. Flynn.