Eating Authors: Mike Resnick

2 comments Written on July 21st, 2014 by
Categories: Plugs
Mike Resnick

I’ve more or less been on vacation for the past week, and what better way to come back than with a bang and a guest at EATING AUTHORS who is a legend in the field. I first came across Mike Resnick in his column, “Ask Bwana,” back in the pages of Speculations when I was a struggling neo-pro, which is to say my earliest experience of the man was reading his advice as he paid it forward.

Mike’s been described as the field’s leading award winner for short fiction. He’s won the Hugo award five times (out of an insane thirty-six nominations), taken home a Nebula award (after a mere eleven nominations), received far too many international awards and prizes to list here, and been honored with a Skylark for Lifetime Achievement in the field. And he’s a long way from being done. Want proof? His latest sale is entitled Mike Resnick’s Worldcons, and will be out in time for next month’s Worldcon in London.

In addition to being famous for his short fiction, Mike has also written novels, fanzines, film scripts (two with his wife, Carol), nonfiction, and that isn’t even beginning to talk about the many many anthologies he’s edited. He’s also collaborated with plenty of authors, and again in the tradition of “paying it forward” has mentored new writers as well. I could go on and on, because his career and his life’s adventures lend themselves to endless stories, but this isn’t the place or time. Instead, before handing the mic to Mike, I’ll tell you one thing. Go read “Kirinyaga.”

LMS: Welcome, Mike. Not surprisingly, given all you’ve done, more than a decade ago you set down your thoughts on memorable meals. The following is excerpted from Guy Lillian’s Challenger. Thanks for sharing it with my readers here.

MR: Meals form one of the most important parts of my life. I sell books at meals. I sell short stories at meals. I buy short stories at meals. I hire agents at meals. I pitch stories to Hollywood at meals. I even proposed marriage to Carol at a meal.

Furthermore, Carol and I love to eat. We’ll go 100 miles out of our way to try out a highly-recommended new restaurant. We’ve dined at 5-star establishments and dumps in both hemispheres. We’ve found unheralded restaurants that were strikingly good and world-famous restaurants that were shockingly bad.

And now, 60,000 meals or so from the beginning, I thought I’d share the most memorable with you.


Kriniyaga: A Fable of Utopia

Most Expensive: This took place the Tuesday before the start of the 1998 Worldcon. We had just arrived in Baltimore, checked into the Marriott, went down to their coffee shop for lunch—and found that the stock market was in free fall. Someone had turned the television over the bar to MNBC, the all-day market channel, and between the moment we ordered sandwiches and drinks and the moment they arrived, we lost $8,200. Now, that was an expensive meal.

Most Profitable: This took place at the ABA Convention in New Orleans in 1986. I sat down at a long picnic table to have a very informal lunch with my Tor editor, Beth Meacham. During the first hot dog I described a couple of books I wanted to write next — Ivory and Paradise — and during the second hot dog she asked a bunch of questions and made a bunch of suggestions. She agreed to buy them as we were finishing our soda pop. Over the next 10 years, those two novels (including reprints, foreign editions, and movie options) were worth about a quarter of a million dollars to me.

Most Expensive Meal For Someone Else: In the fall of 1997, Miramax optioned The Widowmaker from me, and hired Carol and me to write the script. In February of 1998, they decided to introduce us to our director, Peter Hyams, and some of the execs who would be working on the film, so they flew us out to California for a business dinner. They bought us first-class airfare, of course, and since they did it on two days’ notice, the tickets came to $3,800 for the pair. They put us up in a three-room penthouse suite at the 5-star Nikko Inn; I asked at the desk and found out that the rack rate was $1,300 a day. We were picked up by the longest limo anyone ever saw, and that limo and its driver were at our round-the-clock disposal; chalk up another $400. Finally, we met Hyams and the Miramax folk for dinner at the Four Seasons Hotel’s 5-star restaurant. The tab came to $1,250 for ten of us, so we figure our share was $250. The entire meal and discussion lasted about 90 minutes. We flew home the next morning. Miramax’s total outlay for a 90-minute dinner with the Resnicks: $5,570.

Santiago: A Myth of the Far Future

Most Break-Even: Lunch with Marty Greenberg at Noreascon III in 1989. He asked what I was working on. I told him I was writing “Bully!”, an alternate history of Teddy Roosevelt (which would eventually be nominated for both a Hugo and a Nebula.) Somehow that gave him the notion of selling an anthology of Alternate Presidents, with me as the editor, and before he was finished, he had sold four more alternate anthologies to Tor, the titles being Kennedys, Warriors, Outlaws and Tyrants. Our gross income, including advances, royalties, book club sales, and foreign editions, came to about $81,000. But since I insisted on paying a word rate that would attract the best writers, and since Tor liked the notion of 140,000-word books, our net profit after paying the writers (and splitting royalties with them) was $7,700, which meant my share was $3,850 for editing 5 books. (OK, it’s trivial, but why is it break-even? Because while people kept buying Resnick books, they were confronted with so many titles that they often bought the wrong Resnick books—anthologies, on which I got a quarter of the royalties, rather than novels, on which I kept 100% of the royalties—and we doped out that I lost about $3,800 in anticipated novel royalties while those anthologies were in the stores.

Most Potentially Expensive Meal: This was a breakfast at Little Governor’s Camp in Kenya’s Maasai Mara, and for doubters, I have the entire incident captured on videotape. Carol was just sitting down to eat when an enormous elephant smelled the citrus fruit on the table and moseyed over to share it. Carol felt this was an unacceptable intrusion and refused to move. Jumbo kept approaching. Carol flexed her 130 pounds of muscle; Jumbo flexed his 13,762 pounds of muscle. Carol snarled and showed her fighting canines; Jumbo showed his fighting canines, which extended for about six feet from each side of his mouth. When Jumbo was literally eight feet from the table and tentatively extending his trunk, Carol finally retreated. Damned good thing, too; the cost of getting another Carol would have been prohibitive.

Starship: Mutiny

Most I’m-Glad-Our-Insurance-Was-Paid-Up Meal: I was in Philadelphia to deliver a speech, and of course Carol was with me. As always when we’re in town, we stopped to visit Gardner Dozois and Susan Casper. Finally Gardner suggested we all go out to his favorite Philadelphia restaurant. We did. They seated us. We ordered. And—so help me—the restaurant burned down before the appetizers arrived. (I resisted the urge to walk to the nearest Greyhound station and scribble “For a hot time, call Gardner” on the wall.)

Biggest Tab For A Fannish Meal: This took place during Iguanacon, the 1978 Worldcon. We joined John Guidry for lunch at the Hyatt’s atrium coffee shop. A few minutes later Tony and Suford Lewis sat down. So did Rick Katze. Lou Tabakow moseyed over. By now the table was getting crowded, so we pulled another table over. It was immediately filled by Mark and Lynne Aronson and Bill Cavin and Jo Ann Wood and Pat and Roger Sims. Someone—I think it was Banks Mebane—broke out a deck of cards, and pretty soon there was a bridge game going on. Then someone opened up a portable chess set. We had to leave for a few hours. When we came back with Stu and Amy Brownstein, there were all-new faces at the table, but the card and chess games were still going on, and the tab was about three feet long. Each person tossed money into a coffee cup when he left, and when the last person relinquished the table about 30 hours later, the coffee shop’s cashier raked in upwards of $500.

Most money wasted: This took place at the Nebula banquet that was held in San Francisco in 1990. Tor Books had five of the six nominees for best novel, and all five of us—me, Jane Yolen, Orson Scott Card, Poul Anderson and John Kessel—were being treated to dinner by Tom Doherty. Just before the ceremony began, Tom surprised us by having Dom Perignon delivered to all three of the Tor tables to celebrate the publishing house’s pending victory. And, of course, just about the time we popped the corks, it was announced that Elizabeth Scarborough, the one Bantam author, had beaten us all.

Longest Meal: the 1968 Worldcon banquet. I won’t go into details here, since it’s the subject of a forthcoming article elsewhere. But ask anyone who was there.

Thanks, Mike. You know, a lot of years has passed since you wrote about those meals. It’s probably time for a supplement, don’t you think?

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!



2 comments “Eating Authors: Mike Resnick”

I loved this entry!  Mike is such a raconteur — and such a truly big-hearted human being.  Thanks, Mike, for these tales!

Leave a Reply