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You co-wrote a season two episode of Star Trek: Voyager called “Resistance”. How did that come about? What else have you written for television and/or radio?
Kevin Ryan, Dave Stern’s successor as Trek editor at Pocket Books, was great at developing story concepts. At some point, we decided to collaborate on some ideas and pitch them to the producers of the Next Generation. At the time, everybody and his third cousin was pitching that show.
We got some nibbles, but no bites. A lot of the ideas we pitched were already in development. So we pitched again a few months later. Same deal, close but no kewpie doll. Finally, when the producers of Voyager opened themselves to outside pitches, we suggested the idea: “Janeway plays Dulcinea to a Kazon Don Quixote.” Jeri Taylor, one of the executive producers, called us back the next day and told us she wanted to buy the idea. She also told us that someone had made virtually the same pitch the next day. If we had pitched a day later, that other person would have made the sale and we would have been shut out.
Anyway, they made a few changes in our story and produced it as “Resistance.” We had Brian Dennehy in mind for the Don Quixote character but the producers cast Joel Gray, who was the complete opposite body type. As it turned out, he was brilliant in the role.
I also spent some time writing on-air promos for Nickelodeon. I did spots for My Three Sons, Donna Reed, and Car 54 Where are You? One Car 54 spot was for “the Gunther Toody School of Public Speaking.” Toody was a character known for saying, “Ooh, ooh” in response to pretty much anything, and not much of a conversationalist, wherein lay the humor. I think I was the only guy ever to pitch four promos to Nickelodeon and sell all four of them.
My radio work was a bunch of stuff ranging from on-air promos to public service announcements to restaurant reviews. Nothing you’ve heard of, I’m sure.
At Farpoint 2011, you led a panel to announce a new publishing venture called Crazy 8 Press. Your partners include fellow SF and media tie-in writers, Peter David, Bob Greenberger, Howard Weinstein, Aaron Rosenberg, and Glenn Hauman. Can you provide details as to how and why you fine gents created Crazy 8 Press?
I don’t have to tell you that the publishing landscape is changing. Kindles and Sony Readers and so on are on the rise, making the electronic book a viable commercial vehicle. Now that we don’t have to depend on traditional publishers for printing and distribution, there’s an opportunity that never existed before for professional writers to bring their work directly to the reader, free of the creative restraints imposed on them by the various middle men who had been in the mix.
The six of us got together last July to capitalize on that opportunity, deciding that we would achieve a higher profile in the marketplace as a group called Crazy 8 than as six individuals. The Crazy 8 website will introduce our new works on what will likely be a bi-monthly schedule. Readers can check in and find links through which they can purchase these new works for less money than they can now buy a paperback. So the writers win, the readers win, and...well, aren’t those the people we really care about?
What can you tell us about your upcoming novel, Blood of the Gods? What is the release date?
Blood of the Gods (which is just the working title) will appear on the Crazy 8 website around the beginning of November. It’s a contemporary fantasy involving a police detective and increasingly bizarre circumstances that draw him into...well, that would be telling. Suffice it to say it’s the best thing I’ve ever written.
Anyone that knows Michael Jan Friedman is well aware that he’s an avid runner. Aside from that, what other hobbies do you enjoy, Mike?
I’m a very physical person. I really enjoy taking part in sports (at least insofar as my body is willing to cooperate). In addition to running, I like to kayak and play single-wall handball. Fortunately I live in the New York City area, so I can usually find a handball court and somebody to play with. As for kayaking, I live on a bay off the Long Island Sound and we own a couple of kayaks, so the opportunity is always there. My favorite kayaking weather is when the wind is howling and I’m plunging through line after line of whitecaps. I sleep well after that.
Michael Jan Friedman on the Internet Speculative Fiction Database