I was born in San Bernardino, California, a city that, for me at least, is straight out of a Jim Thompson novel. The house I lived in wasn't at the edge of town -- it was at the edge of civilization. Across the street the trackless wastes of the Mojave Desert started, and didn't stop until Las Vegas.
I grew up in the 1950s, an archetypical geek. Skinny, Coke bottle glasses -- a poster child for introvertism. My parents were good people, and I have no doubt that they loved me, but they were very undemonstrative. The few times my father smiled I was afraid his face would crack.
For as far back as I can remember, I've wanted to be a writer. In the third grade I shamelessly plagerized a short story from Boy's Life for a writing assignment. My teacher read it to the class, and that day was the first day I didn't get beaten up after school. I knew then that I was onto something.
I grew up mostly in my head -- I had very few friends, and so I spent most of my free time in front of the TV watching old gangster and monster and western movies -- the rest of it was spent reading or in my back yard (or later in the desert), constructing elaborate febrile fantasies. There's nothing like an afternoon spent playing in 115 degree temperatures to fire the imagination.
When I was in my early teens, the Cuban Missile Crisis come along, and my father, who worked as a civilian employee at the local air force base, was sent, along with many, many others, to various spots around the country where they dug big holes in the ground and filled them up with ICBMs. During this I was packed off to live with my grandmother in Jackson, Tennessee.
I attended junior high there, in an ancient building reeking of asbestos, and got reinforced what I had absorbed at an early age: that I would be best served by keeping my head down and not calling attention to myself -- particularly during dodgeball. (We're talking deep South here, boys and girls, where the Mason-Dixon line looks as remote as the Aurora Borealis.) We moved back to San Berdoo in 1965, with (for my part, at least) a much less jaundiced opinion of the place than I had previously held.
My social skills and popularity remained about on the level of an Ebola-stricken monkey through high school, but along about then I began to write with the hope of making it my craft. The first short story I wrote was rejected by Galaxy Magazine, with a scrawled note on the bottom that said "Try us again." I kept that rejection slip over my typewriter for the next four years.
I wrote more short stories. I did poorly in school. I did even more poorly with girls. I wrote still more short stories. I kept people at an emotional distance by gaining a black belt in sarcasm.
I continued to collect encouraging rejection slips for short stories. I took a writing course at the college, only to be told by the instructor that there was nothing he could teach me. In 1972, I applied for and was accepted to the Clarion Science Fiction Writers' Workshop in East Lansing, Michigan.
Clarion -- the pre-eminent workshop in the country for science fiction, fantasy and horror -- was a revelation to me. Not only did it show me that somewhere in the universe there did in fact exist even greater maladroits than myself, it also gave me samples of my peers' best efforts, and I realized that my own writing was pretty damn good. I think that was the first time I let in the fact that I might actually be able to make a go of it.
After the workshop ended I bummed around the country for six months or so, trying to enjoy the last gasps of the hippie era, and finally wound up staying with my parents in Camden, Alabama, which was where they'd retired. A few months of that was more than enough, and in early 1974 I packed up all my worldly possessions (which consisted of several steamer trunks filled with comic books, Edgar Rice Burroughs paperbacks and Castle of Frankenstein magazines), and fared westward to Los Angeles. Once there, I found a part-time job working in a bookstore, moved into a one-room apartment in Sun Valley behind an auto parts shop (my neighbors were a Hell's Angel and a hooker; I'm not making this up), and started trying to break into TV. Almost a year later I made my first sale, to a live-action childrens' show called The Secrets of Isis. I quit my job du jour (working in the complaint department of Sears, Roebuck; not a tough decision), and have supported myself (and later my family) with words ever since.
One of my fondest memories is of the first year I broke $100K in earnings; I called my father and said, "Remember all those comic books and movies you said I was wasting my time on? Well ..."
I'm divorced, with three wonderful kids. And that's about all there is to say -- so far.
Micheal Reaves is an Emmy award winning television writer and screenwriter, as well as a New York Times bestselling novelist. He has written, story-edited and/or produced nearly four hundred teleplays for various series, including Star Trek: The Next Generation, Twilight Zone, Sliders, and Monsters. He was a story editor and writer on Batman: The Animated Series, and on the Disney animated series Gargoyles, and a writer-producer on Invasion America for DreamWorks SKG.
Michael's screenwriting credits include two animated Batman features, an HBO original movie, and a dark vision of Captain Planet for the Turner Network.
Michael has had twenty-one books published, including the New York Times' best selling Star Wars: Darth Maul -- Shadow Hunter. He has also had short fiction published in magazines and anthologies such as The Magazine of Fantasy And Science Fiction, Heavy Metal, Horrors and Twilight Zone Magazine, and written comic books and webisodes for Eclipse Comics, DC Comics, Dark Horse Comics, and Top Cow Productions.
Michael's most arcane credit to date is having written dialogue for a rock video by Megadeth.
In addition to winning an Emmy, Michael has been nominated for a second Emmy, an ASIFA Award and a Writers' Guild Award. His prose fiction has been nominated for the British Fantasy Award and the Prometheus Award.
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