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Michael Z. Williamsonn
conducted by Toni Weisskopf
 
May 2005

Michael Z. Williamson, an 18-year veteran of the US Army and US Air Force, is a state-ranked competitive shooter in combat rifle and combat pistol. Williamson's first novel for Baen was "Freehold" (January 2004). He has also written three action-suspense novels in the "Target: Terror" series for Harper-Collins including "One Shot, One Kill"; "Scope of Justice"; and "By the Book.

"Have Space Suit, Will Travel" by Robert A. Heinlein was Mike Williamson's introduction to science fiction. "A friend was reading it in 8th grade and I helped explain what the equations were being used for. I got hooked. I started writing when I was seven-- nonfiction about rockets and ciphers. In junior high I read the rest of Heinlein's juveniles, got hooked on SF and started writing it."

Mike has a day job running an on-line and convention business selling "sharp pointy things," and is busy raising two kids, a hard job made even more interesting now that his wife Gail is active in the Army Reserve. All that activity is possibly one reasons why his handle on Baen's Bar is "Mad Mike."

But keeping so busy means that he can write only "Morning and evening, when the house is quiet and I'm just tired enough to avoid mundane issues." For Mike, the best perk of being an SF writer are his readers. And with good reason! "I have the coolest fans in the world. They send me all kinds of stuff--thank you cards, bottles of hooch, one striking young lady photographer sends me very aesthetic pics that frequently include herself, trees, moonlight and lighting effects. I'm considering framing a few for our gallery wall. Cavalry Arms sent me a free rifle." To which I say: you lucky dog! "Add to that getting to guest at conventions and meet people, and it's all good."

Mike does admit to having favorites among his characters. "Yes, but it changes as I go along. Whichever one I'm illuminating the most at present seems to be my favorite. Right now it's a tossup between Captain Chinran in The Weapon, who is a helluva nice guy with a horrific job on his plate, Marcus Tani in a work in progress, who is willing to throw away several billions in fortune if it will get him a home, and from the same story, Jalan Jaksa, who is the embodiment of a sociopathic genius. He's not a nice character, but he's a brilliantly deranged black humorist."

Mike is willing to play casting director for his characters, too. "Sophie Marceau or Catherine Zeta-Jones could probably pull off Marta Hernandez. I'd love to see a 20 years younger Rene Russo play Kendra. She's an amazing actress. Other than that, I don' t watch enough TV (about 2 hours a week) to pick anyone. Maybe Johnny Depp in a lot of makeup for Tirdal [the special ops Darhel from The Hero]. I think he could play the role." I can definitely see Johnny Depp as an alien!

When asked what invention or scientific leap in understanding he'd most like to see made in his lifetime, Mike's thoughts turn in a typically science-fictional direction. "Some kind of stardrive that could let us get firsthand data from another system before I die."

Like author Dave Freer, Mike is not so interested in going back in time just to watch. He'd rather act as an agent of chaos. "Watch? Not sure. The two tricks I've always wanted to play with a time machine are to take a movie with fantastic special effects (The Matrix Reloaded, for example) and slip it into a 1950s theater that had just started screening color. I think the resulting riot and heart attacks from the "realism" would be a fascinating study. Maybe I shouldn't mention FDR and a high-powered rifle, but I've never regarded him as much of a hero, to say the least."

Most writers don't enjoy being pigeon-holed, but a number of critics have detected a "libertarian" theme in Mike's work. And Mike can't really argue with that assessment. "I would guess much of it is. At the same time, I've tried to temper the philosophy with a realistic view of what would happen in the real world. Apparently, I haven't made that obvious enough, as I still get criticism about it."

Mike feels his time in the armed forces have influenced his writing, but perhaps not in the obvious way. For Mike he found the military fertile for "The humorous stuff, mostly. Bored troops create their own entertainment, and it's often rough and frequent ly crude and sometimes dangerous, but the stories about those stunts last for decades and become legends. There's no way to create those without experiencing them. I'd still be a writer, no doubt. Just in a different direction."

For more information please go to: www.michaelzwilliamson.com.

For Mad Mike's custom knives and historical costumes on-line business please visit www.sharppointythings.com.

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