Ask Bwana - yes, ask him!

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Brad R. Torgersen
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Ask Bwana - yes, ask him!

Postby Brad R. Torgersen » Tue Oct 02, 2012 12:38 pm

Okay folks. Mike Resnick's getting ready to wrap up the famous "Ask Bwana" articles. All original 59 of them will have been posted to his blog by the end of 2012. But I had the idea to ask Mike if he'd mind doing a Bwana # 60 for us, for the end of the year, and he's agreed.

http://mikeresnick.com/?cat=10

Leave your questions in this thread. I will collected them as they come.

wotf008
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Re: Ask Bwana - yes, ask him!

Postby Brad R. Torgersen » Wed Oct 03, 2012 11:11 am

Wow, chirping crickets.

OK, didn't mean to spook you all.

If you can avoid repeating a question, that's great. And if you have more than one question, that's cool. Just don't run off 20 or 30 of them at a time, OK?

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Re: Ask Bwana - yes, ask him!

Postby E.CaimanSands » Wed Oct 03, 2012 3:55 pm

I've always been particularly dense when it comes to asking questions. And I have so much to read, and Mike has written so much that I guess I feel inadequate to come up with anything sensible with the maybe five or so stories of his I've read. And no, I haven't read all those columns either, though Mike's book on short story writing is definitely on my list of books to read. Looking at it I notice it starts with Elephants of Neptune. That's one of the ones I've read, love love love that one! I read it when it first came out in Asimov's. Though my favourite (of the ones I've read) is certainly "Travels with my Cats" which likewise I first read in Asimov's. Wow, who is this guy?? I thought after I read those two. wotf004

Anyhow, I hopped over to the Bwana website looking for inspiration, and immediately discover an urgent, burning question! Mike is selling off his books?? Where can I get one?? wotf006
Ok, so I probably wouldn't be able to afford one, and bearing in mind I live in the UK I get horribly cold feet at the prospect of buying overseas (I had to abandon my paper Asimov's subscription because they were never arriving in my mailbox). But, if Mike is selling on Ebay or somewhere, please let us know!

Oh, and Brad, I've just read Outbound. Awesome once again! wotf004
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Re: Ask Bwana - yes, ask him!

Postby Martin L. Shoemaker » Wed Oct 03, 2012 6:26 pm

I haven't had a chance to go through them to tell if this is a repeat question or not, but here goes. He quoted some statistics at WorldCon regarding the rate of acceptance from the slush at the big three markets. I wish I had written down the details, especially since I heard him quote the numbers at leat twice; but foolish me, I took no notes that weekend. So if he could tell us what those numbers were and also what the year was when he gathered the numbers, I would really appreciate it. I know he said Gardner Dozois was still helming Asimov's and Kris Rusch was still helming F&SF, so it was some time back; but I'm not sure exactly what year that would be.
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Re: Ask Bwana - yes, ask him!

Postby coool12 » Wed Dec 05, 2012 2:36 am

In my continuing efforts to get caught up on who’s who and what’s what, I read Wikipedia articles on Isaac Asimov, Arthur Clarke, Robert Heinlein, Robert Silverberg, Ray Bradbury, Frank Herbert, Harlan Ellison, Ursula Le Guin, Connie Willis, William Gibson, Philip Dick, Frederik Pohl, Poul Anderson, Orson Scott Card, Allen Dean Foster, James Blish, Ben Bova, Jim Baen, John Campbell, Jack Williamson, Olaf Stapledon, L. Sprague de Camp, H.P. Lovecraft; plus synopsises and background for their most notable stories. Alfred Bester’s encounter with John Campbell had me laughing uncontrollably. I also spent a lot of time analyzing the Hugo and Nebula awards and noticed some interesting patterns.
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Re: Ask Bwana - yes, ask him!

Postby Brad R. Torgersen » Mon Jan 21, 2013 8:03 am

With the posting of Ask Bwana #59, we've officially reached the end of the original Bwana articles:

http://mikeresnick.com/?cat=10

However, many of you have e-mailed me questions which I've forwarded on to Mike, and which he's been gracious enough to entertain, so we might get one or two new Bwana articles in the next four weeks. Stay tuned!
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Re: Ask Bwana - yes, ask him!

Postby Mike Resnick » Mon Jan 21, 2013 8:20 pm

OK, Brad's forwarded me enough questions for 2 or 3 more Ask Bwana columns on the web page. After that, we've got 60-plus Resnick/Malzberg Dialogues (from the SFWA Bulletin) to run.

Mike
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Re: Ask Bwana - yes, ask him!

Postby ThomasKCarpenter » Thu May 02, 2013 9:31 am

I have a question for Mike! wotf007

I'm not 100% sure that it hasn't been asked in Ask Bwana, but I'll ask anyway just in case.

"How long did it take from your first professional sale until you were a full-time writer (making enough money to fully support yourself through writing)?"

Thanks!
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Re: Ask Bwana - yes, ask him!

Postby Brad R. Torgersen » Thu May 02, 2013 10:48 am

Mike's addressed it (more or less) in numerous places throughout the Bwana columns. Basically, he was editing tabloids and doing pseudonym books in the sex field for a good many years. While also running a dog kennel and raising show collies with his wife Carol. So essentially Mike's been self-employed (more or less) his entire adult life, give or take.
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Re: Ask Bwana - yes, ask him!

Postby E.CaimanSands » Thu May 02, 2013 3:58 pm

Actually, I have a question too, I was just thinking today it was something I'd like to ask Mike if it's not a stupid question!

My WIP is set in an exotic part of the world, like some of Mike's fiction. (Gator insisted I send her somewhere steamy wotf001 ). I was just wondering how Mike does his research for those African settings etc. Have you travelled a lot, Mike? Or is it all from reading travelogues, watching telly etc.? I'm sure it's better to have visited these places first hand but I'm wondering if you consider it essential.
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Re: Ask Bwana - yes, ask him!

Postby ThomasKCarpenter » Thu May 02, 2013 5:14 pm

Brad R. Torgersen wrote:Mike's addressed it (more or less) in numerous places throughout the Bwana columns. Basically, he was editing tabloids and doing pseudonym books in the sex field for a good many years. While also running a dog kennel and raising show collies with his wife Carol. So essentially Mike's been self-employed (more or less) his entire adult life, give or take.


I was thinking more, how long did it take to be established in the field of writing the fiction of his choice? That he could make a living only from his SF&F writings.

The origin of this question comes from an interesting documentary I saw the other day about the lead singer from Tool, Maynard Keenan, who started a winery a few years ago. He made a comment that really stuck with me, that it took him 5-7 years to establish Tool, then a similar amount of time for his other bands, A Perfect Circle and Puscifer. He expected it would take him 5-7 years to establish his winery (making it profitable on its own).

I'd heard similar things from other artists, but it really stuck with me hearing it again and with numerous examples from the same person, especially since he had to spend the same time with his new ventures, despite being famous (and all the benefits people think famous people get).

My non-scientific guess is that this is a common time frame, because it take time, even if your art is world-beating, for your works to get to people, passed mouth-to-mouth and kindle-to-kindle. Yes, there are outliers, but the majority would take a similar time. Anyway, it's a useful exercise to keep myself focused on producing day in and day out, knowing that if I, "just keep swimming" I'll turn this growing emergence into a self-employed empire. wotf008

Thus the question.
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Re: Ask Bwana - yes, ask him!

Postby Mike Resnick » Sat Jun 22, 2013 4:58 pm

Thomas --

Just came upon your question, months later. Sorry for the delay.

It's difficult to answer. Basically, I was making six figures a year from "adult" books, tabloids, men's magazines, and screenplays for producers like Herschell Gordon Lewis since 1966. I sold some rather mediocre sf novels -- 3 of them -- in the late 1960s, and stayed away from science fiction long enough for people to forget them. I started moving back into sf with some award-winning stories in the late 1970s, then began selling novels in 1980 and moving into sf and out of the other fields without a loss of income. By 1982 I was writing science fiction full-time, making the same as I'd made in that Other Field -- as the Other Field's income dribbled down, I started making foreign sales, resales, selling movie options, etc with my science fiction; American advances have never come to more than a third of my science fiction income -- and by 1984 I'd replaced every penny of the Other Field with science fiction income. And I've been writing science fiction full-time ever since -- with a side trip into mysteries the last couple of years.

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Re: Ask Bwana - yes, ask him!

Postby bobsandiego » Sun Jun 23, 2013 12:15 am

Mike Resnick wrote:Thomas --

Just came upon your question, months later. Sorry for the delay.

It's difficult to answer. Basically, I was making six figures a year from "adult" books, tabloids, men's magazines, and screenplays for producers like Herschell Gordon Lewis since 1966. I sold some rather mediocre sf novels -- 3 of them -- in the late 1960s, and stayed away from science fiction long enough for people to forget them. I started moving back into sf with some award-winning stories in the late 1970s, then began selling novels in 1980 and moving into sf and out of the other fields without a loss of income. By 1982 I was writing science fiction full-time, making the same as I'd made in that Other Field -- as the Other Field's income dribbled down, I started making foreign sales, resales, selling movie options, etc with my science fiction; American advances have never come to more than a third of my science fiction income -- and by 1984 I'd replaced every penny of the Other Field with science fiction income. And I've been writing science fiction full-time ever since -- with a side trip into mysteries the last couple of years.

Mike

Oh Mike the bad film fan in me just hast to know...
Which Herschel Gordon Lewis films?
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Re: Ask Bwana - yes, ask him!

Postby Mike Resnick » Sun Jun 23, 2013 2:56 am

That shall remain a secret.

Tell you how it came about, tho. I was editing a couple of tabloids in Chicago the mid-1960s --
the National Insider ad the National Tattler, of sainted memory -- and Herschell, who
was based in Chicago, had some businesses other than the movies and took out some
ads in the tablids. Well, there were some problems with them (which is to say, they
didn't make any sense), so I drove down to his office to clear up all the typos. And when
I got there, I couldn't help noticing all the movie posters. I remarked on them, he explained
that he'd directed and produced all of them, and he asked me if I knew anything about
screenwriting, and I -- who had never written a screenplay in my life -- explained that I
was the best screenwriter this side of John Huston and Sir Robert Bolt. So he said, "OK,
it's Friday. Have a screenplay on my desk by noon on Monday."

I spent Friday night reading a couple of how-to texts about writing screenplays. Then,
since Herschell wasn't exactly MGM or Warners, I talked to a couple of friends who I
knew had written screenplays for low-budget indy films (by "low" I mean TINY), and
they gave me a bunch of ground rules: never use a child actor or a dog, they cost more
than adult actors; always indicate public domain symphonies for the backgrouond
music; always set the film in and around an upper-middle-class suburban house,, since
invariably that's where the producer/director lives and you won't have to rent a set for
the interior scenes; and use a lot of distant two-shots and back-of-head shots when
people are speaking, because nobody at this level can afford a top sound camera, they
all use top-notch slent cameras and state of the art Ampex recorders, and you want
them to spend as little costly time as possible doing lip-synch in the lab.

Welll, I delivered his screenplay on Monday morning, he shot it one week later (in
5 days total) -- I declined an offer to be an extra -- and three weeks after that it was
in the theatres. Herschell owned 6 theatres around the Midwest. If it played other venues,
so much the better; but if it could do 2 weeks in each of the 6, he made pretty good
money.

I did half a dozen scrieenplays for him, never used my own name on any of them,
and lost touch with him for a quarter of a century. Then I was Guest of Honor
at Tropicon in the late 1990s, which they used to hold in Baton Rouge. He had
retired there, saw some publicity about my being at the con, came on over, and we
actually did a few panels together.

-- Mike
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Re: Ask Bwana - yes, ask him!

Postby DavidK » Mon Jun 24, 2013 1:38 am

Mike Resnick wrote:That shall remain a secret.
Tell you how it came about, tho...
-- Mike


Mike,

If it hasn't been said in a while, it's GREAT to have you here adding another dimension to the forum with your wealth of knowledge and experiences wotf009
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Re: Ask Bwana - yes, ask him!

Postby Mike Resnick » Mon Jun 24, 2013 1:17 pm

Thanks. I should add that I had to un-learn all the tricks I used on Herschell's screenplays when I started writing legitimate screenplays for Miramax and Capella. wotf008

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Re: Ask Bwana - yes, ask him!

Postby gower21 » Mon Jun 24, 2013 8:41 pm

DavidK wrote:
Mike Resnick wrote:That shall remain a secret.
Tell you how it came about, tho...
-- Mike


Mike,

If it hasn't been said in a while, it's GREAT to have you here adding another dimension to the forum with your wealth of knowledge and experiences wotf009


Ditto-- and iTyler seconds that sentiment. He read the story over my shoulder ;)

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Re: Ask Bwana - yes, ask him!

Postby ThomasKCarpenter » Tue Jun 25, 2013 3:20 am

Thanks Mike. Interesting directions your career has taken you. Sounds like never a dull moment. wotf007
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Re: Ask Bwana - yes, ask him!

Postby Mike Resnick » Tue Jun 25, 2013 10:32 am

Well, it's been busy. I've sold to Tor, Ace, Bantam, del Rey, Avon, DAW, Warners, Pyr, Berkley, Watson-Guptill, Seventh Street, St. Martin's Press, and maybe a dozen small presses with collections and such, I've sold to more than 30 countries. I've sold screenplays for major studios as well as those 6-hour jobs for Herschell Gordon Lewis. I did a weekly column on horse-racing (one of my passions, tho I never bet) for close to 15 years, and a monthly column on show collies for eleven years. And I sired a Campbell winner.

It's also been fun.

-- Mike
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