An interview with Michael Bishop
Michael Bishop is principally known for his
speculative fiction, but to those familiar with his work it will come
as no shock that he is also a poet whose work has appeared in publications
as diverse as The Georgia Review and The Anthology of Speculative
Poetry (Volume Three). An early collection of his poetry, Windows
& Mirrors, epitomized the phrase 'slim volume,' being a chapbook
limited to a run of 100 copies; a more recent volume of Bishop's verse,
Time Pieces, had a somewhat larger printing. But there's a definite
flavor and touch of the poetic to Bishop's writing even when he's not
composing verse. Indeed, the virtues of poetry infuse his prose efforts:
his story-craft is disciplined, euphonous, with even his longer works
evincing a certain spareness and economy. Most mysterious is how Bishop
pulls a story from notional mist, seeming to create it before the reader's
In the 2000 collection of four novellas, Blue
Kansas Sky, Bishop spins his long-form tales from a kind of magical
silk: a humming, unhurried, and gorgeously shapeful story is the end
result each time. The kinship between the novella Cri de Coeur and
the poetry that appears within the story in unmistakeable. In a kind
of haiku showdown, two characters, Gwiazda and Sharif, frame their observations
of the vast sky their ships move through, and sketch the universe, and
their place within it, in a scant few lines, but the effortless grace
of those stanzas echoes throughout the work as a whole. (Bishop recruited
another writer and poet, Geoffrey A. Landis, to supply Sharif's haiku.)
In the book's title novella -- nominated for the 2001 World Fantasy
Award -- no verse appears as such, but the imagery stuns. Bishop writes
of a boy entering adolescence, "Sleep he loved. He slept like a seed,
continually probing and reorienting throughout the night." Just that
simply, Bishop hits a multitude of nails on their heads: he nails the
character, the story's coming-of-age tone and theme, and especially
the very nature of adolescence. James Morrow, who wrote the collection's
Introduction, declares that the final line of Blue Kansas Sky
made him cry; one wonders how he got that far before shedding a tear
at the pure skill and intrinsic poetry evident on each page.
Bishop's new collection, Brighten to Incandescence,
repeats this astonishing trick over and over again in the course of
its seventeen selections. "Thirteen
Lies About Hummingbirds" takes on an initially light-hearted courtship
and follows it through its first fresh, inventive throes of happy intimacy
and -- with a steadily darkening tone -- into a nightmare of visions
and supernatural menace. Turn by turn, the story's atmosphere chills
and suspense rises: how does Bishop do it?
"Chihuahua Flats" (available elsewhere in infinity
plus) accomplishes a similar feat, though this time leading the
reader not into ghostly horror, but rather through a tender love story
graced by devotion that survives to recur in a visitation from beyond
the grave. In the story, Bishop carefully creates a balance, and a creative
tension, between the mundane particulars -- he sells dog food, she runs
a Chihuahua farm; he falls in love with her green eyes and graceful
figure, she with his raw-boned earnest nature -- and the unlikely climax,
when a hovering shade (dressed up in a "haltertop, pedal pushers, and
a wavery cape") appears to the bereaved husband to offer him a source
of constant solace. Again, the exact method -- the specific locus from
which the story's conviction, and ability to convince, emanate -- is
somehow just out of sight, and yet present in each line.
There are a few stories in Brighten to Incandescence
that embrace familiar science fiction scenarios -- time travelers end
up as dinosaur food, leaving their children to fend for themselves in
"Herding With Hadrosaurs," while in "Murder on Lupozny Station," an
alien / human duo unravel a deep-space whodunit -- and there are a few
tales that flirt with the conventions of speculative fiction, to revealing
and self-satirising effect ("O Happy Day" is both a reversal of the
accepted order of things and a rueful rumination on the cornucopia of
life's frustrations and challenges that we like to call the rat race;
meantime, "Simply Indispensible" is probably the funniest Aliens-As-God
/ Aliens-Bring-Doomsday riff ever), but many of these selections defy
easy categorization. In "Sequel On Skorpiós," Bishop explores
the idea that Christ's death and resurrection were cleverly staged --
only to turn the plot on its head in miraculous fashion. "Tithes of
Mint and Rue" follows a former beauty as she flees the home town she's
grown oh-so-tired of living in and joins a carnival, with extraordinary
phenomena seeming to guide her way. And "The Tigers of Hysteria Feed
Only on Themselves" is a wonderful compound of plot and setting, combining
the uneasy psychology of horror with a sidelong look at American involvement
in Vietnam -- a ferocious combination in Bishop's charge.
Perhaps the most compelling of the seventeen
stories in Brighten to Incandescence is "Last Night Out," in
which Bishop ventures into perhaps the most alien of any alien realm:
the mind of one of the 9/11 terrorists, out for a final Earthly sojourn
(in a strip bar, of all places) on the eve of September 10. There are
many disquieting aspects and elements to this story -- the point of
view, the discord between the terrorist's 'holy' mission and the seedy
environment in which he finds himself, and -- most jarring, most fascinating
-- the seemingly cynical, almost paradoxical attitude of his fellow
terrorist, whose idea the visit to the strip bar is: "Good women are
obedient," the narrator's companion states, as women dance and titillate;
"Give them money and they'll do almost anything you ask." The so-called
clash of cultures has never resounded so mightily as in this short and,
in some ways, difficult work. It is a staggering accomplishment of imagination
-- and, strange to say, of compassion.
Michael Bishop consented to an interview via
email recently, in which he chatted about his new collection and its
attendant concerns, among them religious faith, art, and a smattering
of rock and roll.
Kilian Melloy: Your new collection,
Brighten to Incandescence, gathers works that have never been
included in a book of your stories before. In your Notes, you mention
that you and editor Marty Halpern selected the stories according to
their quality, and, to a degree, according to the whim of the moment.
If you could change the table of contents for Brighten to Incandescence
now, what would you leave out -- and what would you put in that didn't
Michael Bishop: Actually, I pretty much like
the collection as it stands. Marty Halpern had clear reasons for excluding
certain pieces from this volume, and I tried to inhabit his point of
view. For example, we did not include a story structured as a short
drama -- "Spiritual Dysfunction and Counterangelic Longings; or, Sariela:
A Case Study in One Act" -- because its format too closely resembled
that of "Help Me, Rondo," a deliberate cross between a short story and
a Hollywood screenplay. I believed that in a collection of the size
of Brighten to Incandescence this slight similarity would not
compromise either piece, but I agreed with Marty that "Help Me, Rondo"
represented the more substantial effort, and I was not at all averse
to giving way to his judgment. Let me note, too, that Marty put a good
deal of thought into the order that the stories should fall in the text,
weighing such matters as length, theme, tone, subject matter, and so
on, and I think that the collection benefits tremendously from the play
of contrasts and kinships evident in Marty's careful deployment of the
KM: Some of the stories have
been rewritten -- at least one of them fairly extensively -- for the
new collection. Is it a common practice to revise short fiction when
MB: "Of Crystalline Labyrinths and the New
Creation," my homage to and pastiche of R. A. Lafferty's short fiction,
incorporates the most drastic revisions, almost all of them cuts. The
story was grossly self-indulgent before, embarrassingly so, but now,
after a severe line-by-line edit, I'm proud to lay claim to it again
and happy to see the new version in print. Whether revising stories
for publication in a collection is a common practice, however, I can't
say. Clearly, gathering stories for a collection presents the author
with a perfect opportunity to correct minor mistakes and to rethink
and presumably eliminate elements that may have subtly, or conspicuously,
marred the original version. Most of the changes that I made involved
smoothing out obvious infelicities of style and tightening both my expository
prose and my dialogue where they seemed insupportably slack. Still,
a lot of the tweaking was minor.
KM: What role did your editor
play in the revision of the stories? What does an editor actually do
for a project like this, anyway?
MB: Marty, insofar as the revisions went, pretty
much gave me the reins and let me run. But he is extraordinarily meticulous,
always asking questions about word choices, spellings, my preferences
in rephrasing an awkward or ambiguous sentence, and so on. In short,
he worked with me in almost exactly the same way that the late Jim Turner,
who founded Golden Gryphon Press after working for years for Arkham
House, worked with me on my three books for Arkham, Blooded on Arachne,
One Winter in Eden, and Who Made Stevie Crye? And I can't
think of higher praise than that. I understand from other writers who
have worked with Jim's brother, Gary Turner, that Gary is just as meticulous.
The books that they have produced at Golden Gryphon reflect this close
attention to detail and virtually shine as library-worthy artifacts.
KM: Given your occasionally
minimalist punctuation and deft hand at naturalistic dialogue, Marty
must possess a rapport with your writerly intentions that borders on
telepathy. I think you even mention in your Notes something about other
editors wrangling with you over punctuation issues.
MB: Actually, that doesn't happen often. Ed
Ferman wanted me to place quotation marks around dialogue that I had
inserted into the text naked, so to speak, and I complied because I
was a young writer and didn't care to jeopardize a sale by insisting
on my own way. Marty doesn't make that many suggestions, if I'm remembering
this aright, about changes for my dialogue, and I don't think either
one of us feels particularly "telepathic." We just do a lot of careful
communicating, and he instigates the bulk of it because he is so careful
about scrutinizing both my manuscripts (or e-mailed documents) and the
proofs that we get back from Golden Gryphon's typesetter.
KM: How did you develop such
a down-to-earth style of dialogue while avoiding a forced or artificial
MB: Listening to people talk, and registering
the way they talk, is a key. Recently, Jeri and I visited the small
North Georgia town of Ellijay (which crops up in a poem by the late
James Dickey), and we entered a dress shop in its business district
because the shop is called Jeri's, and we seldom encounter the name
"Jeri" exactly as my wife spells it. The woman running the shop willingly
spoke to us about her business. She admitted that she was not the Jeri
for whom it had been named. The shop had previously belonged to a woman
named Geraldine, who had decided to call the place Jeri's (instead of
Geraldine's or Geri's) because the spelling struck her as unusual and
presumably more memorable. She then told us about how she had been working
for an automobile dealership in town, but wanted a new occupation because
the boss's wife showed up quite frequently in the office complaining,
cursing, and ordering everyone about. Our long-suffering hostess explained
that she started looking for a retail business of her own, and when
she saw going-out-of-business signs in the windows of Jeri's Dress Shop,
she circled the town square in her automobile -- she was driving a sum
of money from the auto dealership to the bank -- and went looking for
her mate, a partner in the local mortuary, to tell him the good news
and to ask his permission to buy the shop. "My husband was outside spraying
off the hearse," she said, and -- I couldn't help myself -- I had to
turn aside while my own Jeri continued the conversation, fumble out
the little memo book I carry in my shirt pocket, and jot down her words.
"My husband was outside spraying off the hearse." A great line,
a piece of authentic mountain dialogue, spoken naturally by a woman
of obvious intelligence and charm, and therefore better than anything
that I could make up. I'll have to work it into a story some day (if
I haven't already), but now I must confess that some of my own dialogue
is a good deal less authentic than this, and that I simply try to invent
speech that sounds natural for the contexts that my stories provide,
in the mouths of the specific characters that I've thrust into those
KM: You state in your Notes
on the stories that you feel the story "Thirteen Lies About Hummingbirds"
"fall[s] just short of elegance." What about the story doesn't match
your vision for it? And what could be done to make it perfect?
MB: If I knew, or could figure out, how to
make the story perfect, I would do so. Believe me, I would do so in
a minute. But some stories resist an author's most intense after-the-fact
analysis. An unbiased outsider might get a better handle on the problem
than the writer. (By the way, identifying such problems is usually part
of what a good editor does.) Marty, if I'm not misrepresenting his take
on "Thirteen Lies," liked the piece pretty well as it stood and did
not share my sense of anomalous dissatisfaction with the ending (and
maybe with a couple of the hummingbird "lies"), and in this case I acquiesced
in his good opinion of it. And let me emphatically state here that I
still have a real fondness for this story despite my confessed doubts.
I have no doubt, incidentally, that a reviewer will eventually take
pains to inform me of the exact nature of the problem, and if that reviewer
doesn't also take inordinate glee in doing so, and hits the bull's eye,
I'll rejoice in learning at long last the exact source of my discontent.
KM: Do reviewers actually
contribute to your writing process in that way? I'd got the impression
that authors tend to feel reviewers are out to get them with cheap swipes
and a churlish refusal to "understand" their work!
MB: Forgive me, but there was at least a tincture
of sarcasm in my previous reply. I don't think all reviewers are "out
to get" the writers they review; in fact, I've had "good" notices that
have annoyed me almost as much as have the uncomprehending or
deliberately malicious slams. And even astute critics and reviewers
often have axes to grind. As a consequence, the "solutions" that they
may off-handedly, or even seriously, lay out for "problems" in your
text probably have nothing whatever to do with the writer's original
intentions for the piece. But miracles do sometimes occur....
KM: Two of your stories in
the new collection have titles inspired by rock 'n' roll songs (and
one envisions a Fab Four reunion, aided by hi-tech means). I've seen
two or three other speculative fiction stories centering around The
Beatles or John Lennon in the last year or so. (Besides your Lennon-as-hologram
idea, there's the Allen Steele story "Graceland," set in Philip Jose
Farmer's Riverworld, which features Lennon; Spider Robinson's collection
God Is an Iron boasts the story "Rubber Soul," about Lennon being
thawed out from a secret deep-freeze facility.) Is this trope about
resurrecting Lennon a generational thing -- or maybe a genre-ational
thing? You must be a big Beatles fan in any case...
MB: I was a big Beatles fan. They arrived
on the American music scene in late 1962, when I was a freshman at the
University of Georgia and already immersed up to my still bangless forehead
in the music of the Beach Boys, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, and the most prominent
Motown acts. The Beatles -- hard to believe now -- struck like a revelation,
a musical epiphany, and we awaited each one of their new albums (as
we also did those of Simon and Garfunkel, The Doors, The Mamas and Papas,
and others) like cult members starved for sacred testimony. Rubber
Soul, Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and Abbey Road
landed on us like fiery evangelical documents. And once I had started
writing and publishing stories, I found Gregory Benford's Analog
story "Doing Lennon" -- John Lennon in Analog! Wow! -- an inspiration
to write a Beatles tale of my own. Greg's story appeared before Lennon
was gunned down outside the Dakota Apartment Building, though, and I
wrote my story after that event, when my ardor had cooled a good deal,
and I was listening to less and less contemporary music. So, yes, this
trope about resurrecting Lennon was and is a generational thing, and
that gerund "resurrecting" ties right into the quasi-religious fervor
with which many of us interfaced with music in those days.
KM: I'm struck by the many
intimations of God or Divine Presence in your stories. There's "Sequel
on Skorpiós," of course, in which you deal with a secret life
of Jesus after his crucifixion; but even in "Tithes of Mint and Rue"
there's what seems to be an Earth-Goddess figure (even if she is hermaphroditic);
whereas events in "A Tapestry of Little Murders" seem geared toward
some sort of Divine Judgment. Then there's "Simply Indispensable," in
which an alien form of life comes just about as close as is possible
to fulfilling the very definition of God. Do you wrestle with questions
of belief? Is this a result of how much of literature has its source
in the Bible? Is it all an accident (or is it all an accident?!)
that so many of your stories have this subtext?
MB: I was an apostate Christian for a long
time, probably from the time I read Hemingway and Faulkner as a young
teenager to the early years of my marriage to a young woman (no longer
quite so young, but still my wife) who embodied her Christian faith
in everything she did, without overtly proselytizing. Over time, given
Jeri's daily presence and the quiet influence of my equally devout grandmother
(who died last spring at 103), and after immersing myself in New Testament
study and a variety of theological texts, I came back to the faith of
my childhood, albeit not without recurrent hiccups, glitches, and balks.
"Lord, I believe," says a father with a demon-possessed child in the
ninth chapter of Mark; "help my unbelief." I fully identify with this
hopefully, if intermittently, credulous man.
KM: This very question of
faith -- belief, unbelief -- arises in your story "The Procedure." If
it were possible to remove religious impulses through surgery -- or
gene therapy, or whatever -- do you expect very many people would actually
want to lose those impulses? Even atheists must appreciate the
sensation of "the numinous" when it finds them.
MB: I would think so. And so I would have to
answer No to your question -- unless people found themselves, as does
the protagonist of "The Procedure," in a society where any public show
of "superstition" leaves them open to ridicule or even persecution.
KM: One striking thing about
"The Procedure," I thought, was that you did not insist upon a necessarily
"Christian" faith for your protagonist: as though the most important
thing is to have belief, not so much what particular form or
dogma that faith might assume.
MB: I think we all want to feel convicted,
even if it's about our atheism, nihilism, or Orthodox Druidism. And
I'm not being facetious here.
KM: Artists, in particular,
seem to enjoy a feeling of connection with the Divine: writers or poets
often say that they are not composing work so much as trying to take
an adequate dictation from some outside source. Do you "channel" your
work in this way, or is it all down to the hard work of building stories
MB: I've had stories that have almost seemed
to write themselves, and I've written stories that felt as if I were
hauling rocks out of a pit in a metal bucket, hand over hand, at the
end of a long scratchy rope. The older I've gotten the harder the work
has seemed to become, but I've had no sense that readers are
able to distinguish, very often, between stories that came like dispensations
of grace and those that demanded excruciating effort.
KM: In the story "We're All
In This Alone," a writer tracks a killer to an art museum -- to an exhibit
of Francis Bacon paintings, specifically, which adds a horrific tint
and texture to an already unsettling yarn. Why Bacon?
MB: Many people when they think of unsettling
twentieth-century paintings, especially paintings more geared to personal
angst than to blood and guts, think of Edvard Munch's The Scream.
Well, I do, too, but I also think of the distorted images, the discomfiting
chunks of flesh, and the disorienting papal screams recurrent in the
work of the late Francis Bacon. I'm surprised, actually, that Bacon's
work doesn't crop up more frequently in the fiction of speculative and
/ or horror writers (if I'm not simply ignorant of examples of such
work), and I'd encourage writers wanting horrific inspiration to go
online and take a virtual tour of a gallery of Bacon's paintings.
KM: More broadly, do you
see Art (and the Artist) as reflecting and distilling what's already
out there in the world -- or as pushing the culture in directions it
might not otherwise take?
MB: I think that artists not only reflect and
distill the good and the bad in the culture that has produced them,
but also struggle to shape their cultures in forms of their own choosing,
whether transgressive or harmonizing, and that a genuinely creative
culture permits, perhaps even encourages, these competing aesthetic
forms to knock elbows, bark shins, and bump heads. I might mention here
that when I was in high school, I probably showed as much talent in
the visual arts as I did in the literary, and that my son Jamie seems
to have picked up that dropped stitch for me. He has an interesting
sense of design and a real flair for computer graphics, and he did the
striking wraparound cover for Brighten to Incandescence.
KM: I don't mean to belabor
the issue, but your faith is of interest to the reader because it would
seem to color so much of what happens with your characters: I had been
especially struck, for example, by the change of heart exhibited by
the character Kaz in "Cri de Coeur." Or, as another example, the sudden
and complete forgiveness the bereaved mother, Mrs. Peacock, offers her
ex-con brother-in-law in "Blue Kansas Sky," a forgiveness that happens
at the very moment the reader might have expected her fury and resentment
to reach a crescendo. When I first read these stories, these transformations
seemed mysterious -- not without credibility, because they are handled
with exceptional skill, but still rather inexplicable. If they are seen
as a kind of allegory to the Christian faith, though -- perhaps as "conversions"
to a kind of human "fellowship" where acceptance, reconciliation, and
a constructive approach to differences among people are valued -- then
those characters' sudden turnarounds are no less profound, but become
easier to understand. (Or have I gotten it all wrong?)
MB: No, you don't have it wrong. I will say,
however, that I wasn't consciously -- deliberately -- premeditatedly
-- modeling Christian conversion, as embodied in Kaz's change of heart
and Sonny Peacock's mother's forgiveness of her brother-in-law, in these
two stories. I was simply writing about two characters responding to
developing situations over time, in a way that one would hope such characters
would respond, even if one might also expect them (from a pattern of
past behavior or the direness of the current situation) to resist rather
than to submit to transformation. And maybe I wrote as I did from having
internalized a tenet of my faith, namely, that grace in fact exists
and that our most human response to it is exactly the sort of "conversion"
that you cite. I'd like to shoot down, however, the notion that my underlying
and thus ulterior intent was to hector, proselytize, or frame a pat
moral for either of these stories. If I worked from that motive, my
work -- anyone's work, I'd imagine -- would devolve into propaganda.
KM: Though you have written
stories set in space, they seem to be in the minority among your work.
You seem to favor stories set on Earth, often in contemporary times,
and they tackle tough social issues: Vietnam, South Africa, even, in
your new original story "Last Night Out, " the events of September 11,
2001. Is the idea here to help the reader make sense of today's bewildering,
sometimes panic-inducing world, much as futuristic sf might be meant
to help us "rehearse" for the future? (Or is it more personal than that
... a form of therapy, maybe...?)
MB: Almost any creative writing, freely undertaken,
acts as therapy, even when its ostensible purpose -- before the world,
at least -- is just to make money or to impress persons whose admiration
the writer desires. That said, I find wrestling with contemporary issues
more emotionally rewarding than struggling with imaginary issues in
a future setting that may or may not come to fruition. Usually, anyway.
Which probably accounts for the fact that I wrote most of my off-planet
stories as a young man. "The Procedure" is an exception to this rule,
however, but the reader will eventually notice that the sf-nal otherworldly
setting affords me a convenient way to deal with a spiritual issue symbolically,
or maybe even allegorically.
KM: What's your feeling for
the future of the space program in the wake of the Colombia tragedy?
Is the loss of seven astronauts and a space shuttle going to cripple
NASA? Should we heed this event as a sign that manned space travel is
too exorbitant in material cost and risk to life?
MB: Recently Robert Pinsky, poet laureate of
the United States, gave a talk at Columbus State University, about forty
miles from my home in Pine Mountain, Georgia, and a student asked him
his opinion of the pending war in Iraq. Pinsky prefaced his answer by
avowing that his primary expertise lay in the area of language and that
he could pretend to no special wisdom in the area of international politics.
And then he answered the student's question, delighting some, who clapped,
and annoying some others, who groaned aloud. Having said that, I think
that our surviving shuttles are disasters waiting to happen, but I also
think that the call of manned exploration -- whether of distant forests,
Antarctica, the solar system, or the infinite reaches beyond -- is too
siren-like for humanity to resist. We'll certainly find a way, even
if it's a jury-rigged way, to put human beings on Mars, and perhaps
before I'm too old to appreciate the accomplishment.
KM: You also write poetry,
yourself. I have to say I loved the poetry you included in the story
"Cri de Coeur," from your earlier collection Blue Kansas Sky.
To what extent does poetry inform your fiction?
MB: You know, I'm not really sure. Quite a
bit, probably. I got interested in good writing as much for its inventive
word play as for its storytelling, and poetry appeals to the part of
me that delights in finding words in unusual juxtapositions -- bright,
jangly, and mind-altering. I still want them to make sense, mind you,
and I don't want them in self-conscious, self-indulgent, and hence off-putting
combinations, but I want them to make music as well as sense. I like
storytellers who are also stylists, and vice versa, and that's why I
gravitate to writers as diverse as William Faulkner, Raymond Chandler,
Ursula Le Guin, R. A. Lafferty, Lucius Shepard, and Karen Joy Fowler.
Right now I have a mainstream novel circulating that incorporates five
or six of the poems of an intelligent but extremely troubled twelve-year-old
girl, Susannah Huckaby. I did the poems, of course, but I relished
the challenge of casting them in language that a young woman like Sooz
might employ. Finally, I'd hope that even in a prose narrative a bit
of one's poetic sensibility shines through, if only to distinguish that
work from a tax document or mere by-the-numbers journalism.
KM: In your story "The Unexpected
Visit of a Reanimated Englishwoman," you do a fine job of analyzing
Mary Shelley's recurrent theme of resurrection and the defeat of death.
In the story, Shelley's interlocutor tells her that her writings are
a form of wish fulfillment. But he also praises her as the founder of
modern speculative fiction. Is it a fair assessment to say that at root,
speculative fiction is a form of wish fulfillment -- whether the wishes
being explored are base, crude, wondrous, or visionary?
MB: Interesting question. If the answer is
yes, then I'd have to add that perhaps all fiction is, at root, a species
of wish fulfillment, except that some stories are so violent, despairing,
or satirical of current human institutions and practices that who in
their right minds would wish for such manifestations of the degraded
spirit? Of course, some fiction operates as outright warning, or as
a call to ameliorative action, and that is often true in science fiction
as well as in any other variety. So I think I'd rather say that all
fiction, and all poetry, even when it deals with the cruder aspects
of human existence, has an inescapable spiritual dimension. The act
of writing, even when its subject matter repulses or deflates, almost
always stands as an act of affirmation.
KM: Brighten to Incandescence
was originally going to be a "Best of" collection. Might we still look
forward to a "Best of Michael Bishop" from Golden Gryphon some time
down the road?
MB: That would depend a great deal on how Brighten
to Incandescence does for Golden Gryphon, and whether Gary Turner
and Marty Halpern would like to take a chance on another Michael Bishop
collection. Frankly, I can see where, commercially, they might prefer
another gathering of previously uncollected stories to an omnibus volume
of stories still available in other volumes.
KM: What are you working
MB: I've spent this last semester, early February
through early May, teaching a poetry-writing course to seven talented
students at LaGrange College. I've written exactly one new work, a poem
about Ursula Andress recently turning sixty-seven. But I've got a contemporary
novel out to market and several mainstream stories, and I eventually
hope to gather these non-sf, (mostly) non-fantastic stories in a collection
called Other Arms Reach Out to Me. Meanwhile, readers can find
my mainstream short story "Andalusian Triptych, 1962" in the second
number of the anthology series Polyphony, my dark-fantasy novelettes
"The Door Gunner" and "The Sacerdotal Owl" in the anthologies The
Silver Gryphon (edited by Gary Turner and Marty Halpern) and Thirteen
Horrors (edited by Brian M. Hopkins) respectively, and later, likewise
respectively, in the magazines Realms of Fantasy and Weird
Tales. Another story of mine, "The Road Leads Back," will appear
this fall in an anthology from the University of Georgia Press called
After O'Connor: Contemporary Georgia Stories (edited by Hugh
Ruppersburg), with a near-simultaneous appearance in Polyphony 3.
Further, several of my poems will appear in Tom Piccirilli's anthology
The Devil's Wine, and I've got a piece called "Menard's Disease"
scheduled for Jeff VanderMeer and Mark Roberts's humorous anthology
The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric & Discredited
Diseases. In addition, I hope to write a young-adult novel, a fantasy
novella set in the South Pacific during World War II, and a memoir about
my late father, for which I have the working title Scolding the Ayatollah.
© Kilian Melloy 2003.
Michael Bishop's collection Brighten to Incandescence: 17 Stories
is published by Golden Gryphon Press (June 2003).
Order Brighten to Incandescence online using these links
and infinity plus will benefit:
Amazon.com / from
or order directly from the publisher:
Elsewhere in infinity plus:
Elsewhere on the web: