G & T Show Shore Leave 2015 Coverage – Michael Jan Friedman Interview
At the 2015 Shore Leave convention, the lovely Janice got a chance to sit down and interview Star Trek: Voyager writer Michael Jan Friedman.
Michael wanted to be a writer ever since he was a child. But he didn’t really know anyone who did it for a job. It did not seem to be a way to make a living. Then Isaac Asimov came to his college campus and revealed that he was a full-time writer.
Michael used to say, “if I could write one book ….” And now he’s written over seventy!
He was encouraged to write in college and, when writing comedy, a friend said he would represent him. The friend passed him along to an agency that handled science fiction and fantasy. Facing possible rejection, he asked for a referral. The second agency said yes! The book was brought to the Questar section of Warner Books, and they bought it! At the time, he was working for a Manhattan business magazine.
He and his agent lunched with the publisher and she asked for a sequel. He still had a day job, and suddenly there was a push for a sequel and a hard, short deadline! He ended up mainly writing the novel instead of working, writing longhand and then transcribing at night. His employer gave him a few more weeks and then he left to finish the sequel. Once it was turned in, it was turned into a trilogy! And he was off to the races.
Not too long afterwards, his agent suggested writing a Star Trek book. He came up with a Scotty-centric story and submitted it to editor Dave Stern. The idea was rejected as being too fantasy-like, versus science fiction. He reworked it and it became Double Double. The difference between fantasy and science fiction was that fantasy only requires an internal consistency. For him, the change was to licensed properties.
For Trek books, there was more than level of approval, going beyond the editor to two levels of approval at Paramount, the licensing department and Gene Roddenberry when he was still alive.
Trek writing requires that you ‘put all the toys back in the sandbox when you’re done’. The scenes, though, are more or less already established.
He is currently writing for Crazy Eight Press, including Pangaea, an anthology about what Earth would have been like if the continents had never drifted apart. For Crazy Eight, they write what they want to. This has also worked well as a means of maintaining the relationship between the writer and the reader.
He has noticed that readers, in generally, are reading shorter and shorter messages. This is often a part of life on the Internet, but it also provides a ton of opportunities. It allows for Crazy Eight Press to have a means of marketing and distribution and production.
If he could take any of his characters, and plonk them into a holodeck program, he feels he kind of does that anyway, all the time. He feels he would grab his character Tim Cruz (a character who took on the qualities of salamanders!).
Michael’s sage advice to all is “Don’t let others define you.” Don’t let anyone ever tell you that you can’t.
Please be sure to use the below links, as the G & T Show receives a small bounty at no additional cost to you and no loss of revenue to Michael.
Thank you, Michael!
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She's also a published author (Untrustworthy, published by Riverdale Avenue Books; QSF Discovery 2 Anthology, published by Mischief Corner Books; and The Longest Night Watch Anthology 1 & 2, published by Writers Colony Press), and a prolific fan fiction writer. You can find her adding her fanfiction to our forums, or live tweeting our show.
We understand that she can be bribed with pie.