In the Spotlight is a new feature here at Second Run Reviews. I’ve invited authors, publishers and editors to take part in interviews, guest posts, giveaways and anything else that they can dream up that is appropriate for a blog.
Today I’m excited to welcome Mickey Zucker Reichert, a pediatrician and an award winning author. Mickey is known for her I, Robot series which is authorized by the Issac Asimov estate and her Renshai series which is based in Norse mythology. Mickey is a well-established author and has been in the business for many years. Her experience has led her to organize a Writer’s Workshop that is held during ICON each year.
In the Spotlight:
Mickey Zucker Reichert
Welcome to Second Run Reviews, Mickey Zucker Reichert! Thank you for being In the Spotlight. I appreciate you stopping by and answering a few questions. So let’s get things started.
In a tweet (140 characters or less), tell us a bit about yourself.
Mickey Zucker Reichert: Pediatrician with about thirty professionally published novels and about sixty short stories.
Is that around 140 characters? I have never “tweeted,” except to “answer” birds.
I’m impressed. You have 47 characters to spare. 🙂
30 books and 60 short stories? That’s amazing. With so many works under your belt, you must get your inspiration from somewhere. What inspires you to write? How did you get started writing in Asimov’s I, Robot series? He’s a pretty big deal in the sci-fi world!
Mickey Zucker Reichert: I’m inspired by pretty much everything. Everything that happens, everyone I meet, everything I do or see goes into a book somewhere, somehow (although you’d never recognize it, and I’ve never had a person recognize himself – thank goodness).
I was approached to write in the “I, Robot” universe by Marty Greenberg, the nicest and most prolific publishing guy who ever lived. He was a genius and a close friend of Isaac Asimov. He had always been fascinated with the character of Susan Calvin, who appears in most of Asimov’s robot stories as a callous, highly intelligent, older woman who loves only robots. He wanted an established author to write a three volume series about her younger years that explained how she became the woman she was in the robot stories.
The Asimov family was given a list of possible authors and chose me. I like to think it wasn’t because they think of me as a callous, highly intelligent, older woman. Well…one of out of three would be OK, and I’m sure it helped that I’m an M.D.
Wow! What an amazing opportunity for you.
Another source of inspiration for you seems to be the Norse gods. What drew you to base the Renshai around Norse mythology? Who is the most unusual norse god or goddess you’ve encountered? Have you worked that one into your series yet?
Mickey Zucker Reichert: When I started medical school, I had just turned 19 and found a couple of great books on Norse mythology. A fellow student saw me reading them and introduced me to Poul Anderson’s The Broken Sword, which is a fantasy novel based on Norse mythology. I loved it. I used to attend all my medical school classes, then go home and study my notes. I had a long distance relationship at the time, and while I waited for the phone rates to go down (man, am I dating myself!!!), I tried my hand at fiction writing. Eventually, the stuff I wrote in medical school became the Renshai novels.
The most well-known Renshai god is definitely Thor (who doesn’t know Thor?). The Norse gods and goddesses are a fascinating, petty and quarrelsome bunch compared to most versions of God or gods. Between the Bifrost Guardians series and the three Renshai trilogies, I believe every god, goddess and monster has had his or her day somewhere in my fiction.
Thor? I have no idea who Thor is. 😉 But I hear that he’s darn good looking.
As an established author, you’ve experienced a lot of fluctuation and changes in the marketplace. What was the most difficult thing about getting published? What was the easiest? If you had to go back and do it all over again, is there any aspect of your stories or getting published that you’d change?
Mickey Zucker Reichert: The most difficult part of getting published is finding a large New York publishing company willing to buy your work. This is so exceptionally difficult (rather like breaking into Hollywood as an actor) that most writers now skip this step and self-publish or use some tiny internet, non-professional publishing company. The problem is that so many people do not understand the difference between a professionally published author who has honed his or her craft to the point that it is worthy of professional publication or a manuscript that has been professionally edited by a competent editor and correctly typeset by…yes, once again, professionals from the dreck being tossed around the internet by the clueless.
In actuality, it is the difference between a movie starring Angelina Jolie and Robert Downy Jr. versus your Uncle Ed and Aunt Petunia in the community theater production. As a result, the market has been flooded with crap from every wannabe who takes the time to jot down a few thoughts. And we professionals who actually have to make a living at this are bombarded by ex-Readers or potential Readers who say, “I don’t read” because they’re sick of reading garbage, and they wouldn’t know a good story if it smacked them upside the head.
I’m positive there are good self-published and small press-published novels out there that would have eventually been, or are, discovered by a professional company when and if the author had taken just a little more time to hone craft or learned how to properly submit—but not many. Professional editors are keen to find new talent; and, while you hear of classical or famous novels rejected multiple times before sale, they are eventually sold or the stories would not exist. Usually, there is a good reason that no one talks about, such as an enormous rewrite that fixed huge problems or it’s the type of book people either love or hate, or it’s just plain weird and a wonder it became popular or it’s of a topic that suddenly became popular.
As far as what I would change, I never let go until I believe a novel or story is the best that I can make it. I like to think that I progress as a writer each and every day, so if I went back to the older stuff, I’m sure I would have a lot I would be driven to change. And that would keep me up nights wishing I could make the edits, so it’s probably best I don’t do that.
It is tough for readers because the reading market is flooded with books at all different writing experience levels. I’ve been lucky enough to discover some wonderful self-published and small press authors. For inexperienced readers, it can be luck of the draw to find those or a careful reading of reviews on Amazon, GoodReads or your favorite review blog. 99 cents or free does not necessarily mean it’s a quality novel!
I’ve found that writers are often voracious readers. What type(s) of books to you enjoy reading most and what three books to you find yourself recommending to your fans over and over?
Mickey Zucker Reichert: I enjoy a well-written book of almost any type or genre, fiction or non-fiction. I am a voracious reader of almost everything. I do not own any type of eReader, though, because I prefer to hold books in my hand and I read in unusual places that might be unsafe for electronics. I rarely read on-line unless I’m researching something and the information is there. I have always preferred “real-life research,” which is going out and doing things rather than reading about them. If it’s something I can’t or won’t do, I find someone who does it rather than someone who knows about it. Much to my chagrin, I’ve never been graceful or athletically gifted (though I try anyway), so I’ve befriended a whole lot of risk-takers (some very dangerous people who scare the hell out of me) to assist with the mindset and the actions I’d never do.
For people who’ve never read my work, I usually recommend starting with The Legend of Nightfall or Last of the Renshai for fantasy readers. For SF and mainstream readers, I usually recommend either I, Robot: To Protect or The Unknown Soldier. For animal lovers, definitely The Books of Barakhai, which is now in a combined volume. The Beasts of Barakhai is the first of the two novels.
It took me awhile to warm up to reading on an eReader. I travel so frequently that I’ve found having one handy is a lot easier than packing a half dozen books because I don’t know what I’ll finish and what I’ll be in the mood to read next. However, an eReader does not beat holding a new physical book in your hands. Oh, the smell of new books!
What’s your current obsession? Any secret obsessions you want to share?
Mickey Zucker Reichert: My secret obsession? Gosh, I’m not a secretive person, much to my family’s chagrin. I’ve been accused of loving my dogs more than my kids, but it’s not really true. I love them all exactly the same. 🙂
Seriously, though, I do have a golden retriever service dog who I adore, and the feeling is definitely mutual. I attend dog obedience training with one dog or another on average once a week. I’ve owned multiple animals through the years, but I’m currently down to five dogs, a changing assortment of barn cats, two macaws, three peafowl and a flock of chickens. See, no secrets.
That’s a lot of animals to keep track of. Sometimes having 2 cats is troublesome enough for me!
Any last thoughts or wise words you want to pass along?
Mickey Zucker Reichert: Well…I’m a firm believer that all books (regardless of being part of a series) require a beginning, a middle and a satisfying ending. Therefore, you could take any of my books and have a complete story whether or not it’s the first of the series or you intend to complete the series. They definitely read better in order, but you’ll still get the complete reading experience. Of course, I recommend you run out and buy them ALL regardless!!!
I would advise all would-be authors to submit to the professional publishing houses and hone craft and edit until their work is worthy of the big houses rather than rush to self or small press publish. I attempted to submit the first Renshai series before I had the skills to pull off a work of that magnitude. Luckily, editors at Ace and, later New American Library and DAW recognized that I had potential. They suggested I put “Renshai” away and work on something less ambitious until I honed my craft. Like all writers, I secretly thought my craft was already perfectly honed, but I listened to their wiser heads. As a result, I held onto Renshai and wrote the five “Bifrost” books, which were published first. I read a ton, including Techniques of the Selling Writer, a masterpiece for writers by Dwight V. Swain.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts, experience and wise words with the fans of Second Run Reviews, Mickey. I appreciate you stopping by for a few minutes to chat. I look forward to running to you, I hope, at ICON 40 this fall.
author interview mickey zucker reichert