An Author Affair Asks Andy Weir
Q. What do you hope to achieve in the next 5 years?
A. I’d like to write more sci-fi novels. It would be nice to average one per year, but one per two years is more likely. Also, I’d like to break into movie and TV writing. I especially like TV as a storytelling medium because it’s an infinite canvas. When you have 12 hours of content or so across a season, you can really tell a detailed and intricate story.
Q. Have you written books that went unpublished? Tell us about those.
A. Yes, I wrote two books before The Martian that went unpublished. The first was called “The Observer” and it was utter crap. A terrible, generic dystopia story that I shit out when I was in college. Fortunately it was before the era of the internet, so there are no digital copies out there for anyone to find.
The second was called “Theft of Pride”. It’s out there in internet-land for those who care to look for it. It was about a heist in the distant future. It was a much better story, though poorly executed. I still had a lot to learn about storytelling and narrative style. But I think the plot elements were solid.
Q. What motivates you to write your stories?
A. I’m not sure. I guess I just come up with these ideas and I want other people to experience them.
Q. What was your biggest mistake/setback as a writer?
A. I just spent the better part of a year working on a book that just didn’t pan out. The publisher was waiting for it, I got about 70,000 words in and it just wasn’t good. I back-burnered the project and went with a different idea entirely. I don’t regret that decision, it was the right thing to do, but I wasted months and months before getting to that point. Right now, my name is a hot commodity. I need to get another book out while people still remember me and The Martian. But I lost several months to this other aborted effort.
Q. Tell us something about you that most people would not know.
A. I like high-end cocktails. My friends and I go to really nice bars all over the Bay Area and try out their house specials. And I have a full bar at my house where I mix my own drinks and experiment with new recipes.
Q. What is your favorite genre to read?
A. Definitely science fiction. No surprise there.
Q. What advice do you have for new writers who wish to achieve the success that you have?
A. 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.
3) 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.