Mike Resnick is the author of way too many books to mention (for an overview take a peak at his homepage). Here in Germany we recently had the pleasure to experience the adventures of Mallory, one of his heroes, which are being published by Bastei Lübbe. (Photo: Copyright Hugette)

Thank you for taking the time for this interview.

How did you come up with this crazy world in which Mallory finds himself?

Back in the mid-1980s, there were so many not-very-good fantasy novels on the stands that someone, I think it may have been Bob Silverberg, came up with a pejorative term for them: “elf-and-unicorn trilogies”. And when I decided, after maybe 15 science fiction novels in a row, that it was time to write a fantasy, I thought it would be interesting to write one that had an elf and a unicorn and wasn’t like any of those truly dreadful and totally generic elf-and-unicorn books.

I set it in New York simply because more readers are familiar with the landmarks of Manhattan than any other American city, so they would be quick to see the changes on familiar settings that I use during the series to show that this isn’t quite the Manhattan you know – the Vampire State Building instead of the Empire State Building; Greenwitch Village rather than Greenwich Village; Madison Round Garden instead of Madison Square Garden; and so on.

The mystery case is very complex. How did you manage not to loose focus? 

It comes from being a professional writer who, even in 1987, had sold more than 10 million words. There’s no secret to it: you plot out the book before you begin, you work out all the complications, and then you write it.

How did you come up with the ideas to write more than one novel about Mallory? 

I thought Mallory was retired after Stalking the Unicorn. I seriously had no intention of writing another – I was contracted about five or six books ahead, all of them science fiction rather than fantasy.

Then, two or three years later, Lawrence Watt-Evans was editing an anthology of stories called Newer York. Some potential contributor asked him if she could do a fantasy story rather than science fiction, and he replied if it was as good as Stalking the Unicorn he’d take it. Flattery gets you everywhere with me, so I wrote him a Mallory novelette, “Post Time in Pink.”

Then Martin H. Greenberg asked me for a Mallory story for A Christmas Bestiary  (“The Blue-Nosed Reindeer”), Kristine Kathryn Rusch commissioned one for F&SF (“Cark Shark”), Bill Fawcett asked for one for Masters of Fantasy (“The Amorous Broom”),  Black Gate Magazine commissioned one (“The Chinese Sandman”), an editor over in England, wanted one for The Solaris Book of New Fantasy (“Shell Game”), and I sold one to myself for The Dragon Done It, an anthology I co-edited with Eric Flint (“The Long and Short of It”.)

Those last two were done just a few years ago, when I started writing the Starship series for Pyr, and my editor there, Lou Anders, read them and asked me if he could reprint Stalking the Unicorn and if I was willing to write some more Mallory novels. I said yes – I truly enjoy writing them – and in the next two years I gave him Stalking the Vampire and Stalking the Dragon.

I got too busy to write any more Mallory novels for awhile, but those seven stories (well, 6 novelettes and a short story) were just a few thousand words away from being enough to fill a collection. I needed a “Stalking” title anyway, so this winter I wrote “Stalking the Zombie”, which has never appeared anywhere, but will be the lead story of the Mallory collection, Stalking the Zombie, that will be coming out just before Worldcon this summer.  Sorry for giving you such a long answer.

In the original version the cover art for „Stalking the Unicorn“ (Jäger des Verlorenen Einhorns) has been done by Boris Vallejo, a master of arts who has been a favorite of mine since ages. What did you think when you saw the cover for the first time?

I liked the cover by Boris, but I have to say that the Pyr reprint from 2008, by Dan Dos Santos, has become one of my two or three favorite covers (and that includes well over 100 science fiction and fantasy novels, collections, and anthologies.)

You’re a writer with dozens of published texts and novels. What do you do for leisure? 

A reporter once asked Pablo Picasso what he did for a hobby. He replied: “I paint.” And the reporter said that no, that’s what he did for a living; what did he do to relax? And Picasso said: “I paint”. Me, I write.

Which novel was the most fun for you to write? 

I’ve written some bestsellers, and I believe Kirinyaga probably has more awards than any other science fiction book in history – but my favorite, the one I most enjoyed writing, was The Outpost. Never heard of it? *sigh* Almost no one has. Go figure.

Currently you’re editing an anthology „The Worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs“. I’ve been a big fan of his works since I first read his novels. How did you feel about including your novella „The Forgotten Sea of Mars“?

I have mixed emotions. I was 21 when I wrote it (I’ll be 70 in early March), and it was purposely written in the style of Edgar Rice Burroughs rather than Mike Resnick. But Burroughs fans seemed to love it when it was published, and I’ve seen copies selling for as much as $300 on eBay and in dealer’s rooms, so it seemed like a good time to bring it back in print at a more reasonable price. And if you don’t like it, please remember that I’m 48 years better now.

Your project of „Mike’s Writer Children“ is absolutely fabulous and exciting. How did you come up with that idea?

I had just sold reprints of the first three Lucifer Jones books (he’s my favorite character) to Arc Manor, a relatively new press that I hadn’t worked with before, and Shahid Mahmud, the publisher, asked me if I had any idea for a new line of books, something no one else was doing. I remembered  that Maureen McHugh invented the term “Mike’s Writer Children” to describe the 20 or 25 beginners I’ve kind of “adopted” and helped along the way – collaborating with them, buying stories from them when I’ve edited anthologies, introducing them to editors and agents at conventions – and it occurred to me that I couldn’t be the only writer who did this. So I suggested what has become the Stellar Guild line, a series of team-ups where an established star writes a novella, and then a protégé of the star’s own choosing writes a novelette set in the same universe, and they share cover credit.

A lot of people told me: “Oh, you’ll never get the biggest names in the field to write a novella, not at the rates” – above average, but not huge – “that you’re paying.” Yet every single one I’ve approached, once I explained the line and that they could chose the newer writer, has agreed, The first two books, by Kevin J. Anderson and Mercedes Lackey (and their protégés) are out, and we’ve got Robert Silverberg, Harry Turtledove, Eric Flint and me under contract. Come back in 6 months and I’ll bet we have from 6 to 10 more stars signed up. Like they say, by the time you’re in a position to pay back in this field, you can’t, since everyone who helped you is rich or dead or both, so you pay forward. The Stellar Guild line just makes it creative and easy to do so.

Your newest novels in English are somewhat Steampunk. What do you think is the appeal of that genre that so many authors now dive into it?

I’ll be totally honest, I have very little interest in steampunk. What I had always wanted to do was write a novel about Doc Holliday and Johnny Ringo, who were the only two college-educated gunslingers in the Wild West. So when Lou Anders asked for a “Weird Western”, with both magic and steampunk, I figured, well, I’m in my late 60s and I still haven’t written that book, so it’s probably a choice between doing it as a part-steampunk part-fantasy novel or never getting around to it at all. I wrote it as The Buntline Special, it was very well received, I wrote a sequel that just came out in December titled The Doctor and the Kid, and I just signed for two more: The Doctor and the Rough Rider (which will feature my two favorite historical characters, Teddy Roosevelt and Doc Holliday), and The Doctor and the Dinosaurs (which will take place during the “bone wars” between the warring American paleontologists, Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh).

What project would you like to do most? Which ideas are still in your head that simply have to see light?

Well, I have to write another book and a half about Lucifer Jones, until I get him thrown off every continent on Earth. (I say “book and a half” because his adventures are appearing in just about every issue of Subterranean’s online magazine, and half of what will become the 5th Lucifer book have already appeared. For the record, the first four are Adventures, Exploits, Encounters, and Hazards. The fifth will be Voyages.

Somewhere I have two more Santiago books outlined, if I can ever fit them into my schedule. I have notes on eight or ten others, and of course I’ve got about seventy or eighty short stories waiting to be told. And that’s just in this field. I did a mystery novel a few years ago, I really enjoyed it, and I think I’ll be doing a sequel to it pretty soon, maybe this summer. And there’s always more. I think I have 11 books coming out in 2012, and I expect to keep writing up to the day I die (and maybe even a bit beyond that. )

Thank you and I am looking forward to the next installments of Mallory’s adventures „Mallory und die Nacht der Toten“ (Stalking the Vampire), already out, and „Mallory und der Taschendrache“ (Stalking the Dragon), coming out in July 2012.