Author Interview

Author Interview with Andy Weir


ANDY WEIR built a career as a software engineer until the success of his first published novel, THE MARTIAN, allowed him to live out his dream of writing fulltime. He is a lifelong space nerd and a devoted hobbyist of subjects such as relativistic physics, orbital mechanics, and the history of manned spaceflight. He also mixes a mean cocktail. He lives in California.

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Jasmine Bashara never signed up to be a hero. She just wanted to get rich. 

Not crazy, eccentric-billionaire rich, like many of the visitors to her hometown of Artemis, humanity’s first and only lunar colony. Just rich enough to move out of her coffin-sized apartment and eat something better than flavored algae. Rich enough to pay off a debt she’s owed for a long time.

So when a chance at a huge score finally comes her way, Jazz can’t say no. Sure, it requires her to graduate from small-time smuggler to full-on criminal mastermind. And it calls for a particular combination of cunning, technical skills, and large explosions—not to mention sheer brazen swagger. But Jazz has never run into a challenge her intellect can’t handle, and she figures she’s got the ‘swagger’ part down. 

The trouble is, engineering the perfect crime is just the start of Jazz’s problems. Because her little heist is about to land her in the middle of a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself. 

Trapped between competing forces, pursued by a killer and the law alike, even Jazz has to admit she’s in way over her head. She’ll have to hatch a truly spectacular scheme to have a chance at staying alive and saving her city. 

Jazz is no hero, but she is a very good criminal. 

That’ll have to do. 

Propelled by its heroine’s wisecracking voice, set in a city that’s at once stunningly imagined and intimately familiar, and brimming over with clever problem-solving and heist-y fun, Artemis is another irresistible brew of science, suspense, and humor from #1 bestselling author Andy Weir.

What inspired you to first start writing? Is your motivation to write now different or the same as before?

I always wanted to be a writer – I can’t remember any time when I didn’t. The motivation is a little different now that it’s my source of income. But the desire to tell stories is the same. I’m just a little more motivated to finish projects on time. 🙂

Writers are projected as loners or introverts. Is this true for you?

Not really. I’m not a party guy or anything like that. But I like spending time with my friends. I’m an avid boardgamer (I know, who would have thought a nerd would be into board games!?)

What genre do you like to write in? Why?

Science Fiction. I also like crime stories, but my bread and butter comes from sci-fi

How often do you write and what schedule to you like to keep?

When I’m working on a first draft, I try to get in a thousand words a day. I don’t always succeed. When I’m doing editing passes, all bets are off. Generally, I write in the afternoon.

What is the easiest part of writing to you?

Research. I love to do the math and research related to stories. It’s the pesky “writing” part that’s hard.

Can you share any tips on inspiring other writers to pursue their dreams?

1) You have to actually write. Daydreaming about the book you’re going to write someday isn’t writing. It’s daydreaming. Open your word processor and start writing.

2) Resist the urge to tell friends and family your story. I know it’s hard because you want to talk about it and they’re (sometimes) interested in hearing about it. But it satisfies your need for an audience, which diminishes your motivation to actually write it. Make a rule: The only way for anyone to ever hear about your stories is to read them.

What is your favorite thing about being a writer? Why?

I like being able to work at my own pace and realize my imagination in words.

Who would you compare your work to? What differences set you apart?

I’m a hard sci-fi writer – meaning I try to stick with real physics. So I follow in the footsteps of Robert Heinlein, Arthur Clarke, and Isaac Asimov. I guess the main differences are that those authors were all way more talented than I’ll ever be. But I have 50 additional years of technological development to draw on.

Does a bad review affect your writing?

Yes, but in a good way. When I read a bad review, I try to work out why the reviewer gave it. In some cases, it just wasn’t the reviewer’s cup of tea. Can’t do much about that. In other cases, the reviewer has some weird axe to grind – like if they won’t tolerate a male author writing a female lead. I have to ignore them. But the ones who challenge plot points or say the writing style put them off are the ones I really pay attention to. That’s how you get better.

What did you want to be when you grew up as a child?

A writer!

What book have you read that has been the most life changing?

I don’t have an answer to this. I read to be entertained. So I only read fiction – fun stuff. I don’t read stuff that’s deep or philosophical.

Are you working on anything right now? If so, what can you share?

I’m working on my next book now. I can’t share details just yet. I want to get further into it before I start talking about it publicly.

Who is in your support system? How do they keep you motivated?

My wife is a huge motivator. When I start goofing off too much around the house she’ll (not so) subtly remind me I should be writing.

Do you keep a blog or a journal? How does it help you as a writer?

I don’t, no.

Do you have any daily mantra’s? What do you tell yourself to keep your inspiration alive?

Well, it’s not “daily”, but I have a saying I use when times are tough or when I’m stressed out: “The only way out is through”. It’s a simple, poignant saying that helps keep me going. Sounds like something from a great philosopher or something, but it’s actually from the video game “Doom”.

What is one thing you want people to know about you as a writer? A person?

That I have no political axe to grind. I write my stories solely to entertain and for no other reason. If you ever think you see political preaching in one of my books, you’re misinterpreting something.

What are your career goals?

I’m pretty much here. Can’t ask for more than what I’ve been given.

How will you handle fame if/when you reach that level? How do you think it will change your writing?

Fame has not affected me too much. People don’t know what authors look like, for the most part. I get recognized in the wild once in a while but it’s rare. I don’t think it affected my writing at all. I had the good luck to only get successful late in life – I was 44 when “The Martian” came out. So I had a lifetime of being humbled by the world beforehand. Nothing went to my head.

What advice would you give your younger self about writing?

Keep at it!

Have you ever considered writing an autobiography?

I have, though I’d have to wait until a few relatives of mine die of old age first.

How did you celebrate the launch of your book?

Generally, I don’t have time to celebrate. I’m usually rushed around from one place to another as part of the marketing effort.

If given the chance, what author would you interview? What is the most important question you would ask?

Terry Pratchett. I don’t know what I’d ask, really. I just wish I could impart wit as well as he did.

Have you experienced writer’s block? How do you handle it?

I don’t get writer’s block. I almost always know what the next scene I’m going to write is. My problem is more “Writer’s Laziness”. I know what I should be doing, but my motivation is shit. Sometimes it’s really hard to get anything done because of it.

What would you tell others who are considering traditional/self-publishing? Any advice?

This is the best time in history to self-publish. There’s no old-boy network between you and your readers. You can self-publish an ebook to major distributors (Amazon, Barnes, and Noble, etc.) without any financial risk on your part.

What do you want to be remembered for as a writer? A person?

Just that my stories are fun to read. That’s all. When the reader is done with my book, I want them to put it back on the shelf and think “That was cool.” I just want them to have fun.

Thanks, Andy!

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