I have long participated in SleuthSayers, commenting on posts and occasionally writing guest posts, but this marks my debut as an official member of the tribe. Thanks, y’all, for inviting me to join.
I wrote my first professionally published story when I was 17, sold it when I was 18, and saw it published when I was 19. That’s the story I tell, and the story I’ll continue to tell, but it isn’t the truth. The truth is more complex and involves my committing one of the worst crimes a writer can commit short of plagiarism.
But let’s back up to the beginning.
|Michael Bracken, pre-publication|
Through reading, I could be anyone, go anywhere, and do anything.
Like many of us, I knew at an early age that I wanted to be a writer. Unlike most, I began seeking publication almost immediately.
When I was in the eighth grade, I wrote my first short story, “The 1812 Battle at Two Rocks.” In ninth grade, my junior high school’s literary magazine published one of my poems. (Unfortunately, many years ago a flood that destroyed much of my early, pre-publication writing also destroyed my first publication.) I contributed to my high school’s literary magazine, wrote for (and later edited) my high school newspaper, wrote for an underground newspaper while in high school, and published a science fiction fanzine while contributing to other fanzines.
|Bracken's first pro rejection|
The rejections piled up.
During the spring and summer of 1976, I wrote “The Magic Stone”—a 1,200-word fantasy about a young boy, an elderly woman, and a magic stone—and submitted it to various SF/F magazines. After the story earned several rejections, I sent it to Donn Brazier, who published “The Magic Stone” in the February 1977 issue of his fanzine Farrago. (Farrago, a limited-circulation amateur publication produced on a photocopier, was an offshoot of his more popular fanzine Title.) The response was positive, and someone suggested “The Magic Stone” was a wonderful children’s story.
|Young World, November 1978|
So, the truth is that I wrote “The Magic Stone” when I was 18, it was first published when I was 19, but it didn’t achieve professional publication until I was 21.
Though my professional writing career began with a literary crime, I didn’t become a crime fiction writer until several years later. Next time, I’ll explain how and why I made the transition.
I am currently reading submissions for The Eyes of Texas, an anthology of private eye stories that Down & Out Books will release at the 2019 Bouchercon in Dallas. The deadline is November 30, and the guidelines and answers to FAQs can be found here: http://www.crimefictionwriter.com/TheEyesOfTexas.htm.