Andy Wier the author of The Martian, his first novel, does not need an introduction from me. His work is enough to distinct him. Still, the 42 year, living in Northen California, a software engineer, a life long space nerd, and a ‘Whovian’. Enough of me. Let’s see what Andy has to say.
Hi Andy, and thank you for agreeing this interview. Congratulations on the success of The Martian, an amazing read. Tell me a little about yourself and your background?
I’m 42 years old and I live in Northern California. I’m a lifelong fan of manned and unmanned spaceflight and a science nerd. I’ve been a computer programmer for 25 years, and I only recently quit that profession to go full-time on writing.
You got a job at 15, while most of us were still struggling through the days of puberty. How?
I grew up in Livermore, CA, and there are two major government laboratories at the far end of town. They employed (at the time) about 25% of the whole city. Sandia Labs did a community outreach program where they hired local kids to be lab assistants. So I was hired basically as a test-tube cleaner, menial labor kind of thing. The lab I worked for needed some data analyzed on a computer, so they handed me a book on how to program computers and told me to learn how. That began my software engineering career.
The Martian was originally self-published. Does the print version differs from the first edition?
There are no significant plot or character differences. Just a lot of cleanup and smoothing out. The print edition is much better in terms of readability. It benefitted greatly from the diligent work of Julian Pavia, the editor at Random House who whipped it in to shape.
Considering the amount of generous humor (which were my favorite parts) you have put in that does make Mark Watney a real life character along with aid of technology. How did both indulged in a package together?
I wanted to be physically accurate, but I was worried that long, technical explanations would be boring to read. So I tried to make the main character funny. That way, the exposition would be entertaining to read.
What was your first intent—to write a novel or to write a science fiction novel?
My focus was on the science, definitely.
While writing The Martian, did you follow any writing ritual? How about writer’s block? Did that “son of a scumbag” interfered?
I didn’t have any problems with writer’s block. The plot is very simple, and each element led to the next.
Your insight of Mars did make me feel alive on that red planet. You must have put a lot of efforts on studying about it to construct such a surreal environment for a reader?
I did a lot of research, yes. I wanted everything to be as accurate as possible. And, of course, this is my hobby. So doing the research was fun for me.
Would you like to go to Mars, one day?
No, actually. I’m not a brave person. I would be too afraid to go on such a dangerous trip.
Recently read that you are a “Whovian” too! Being Whovian myself, I could not resist to ask you about your favorite Doctor? Would you like to write a Doctor Who story? Or are you already up with one?
I love Doctor Who. My favorite doctor is the Fifth (Peter Davison). It would be a dream-come-true to write a script for an episode.
What is your opinion on Mangalyaan (Mars Orbiter Mission ‘MOM’), a spacecraft launched last year and now successfully mingling in Mars orbit, by the ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization)? Do you think NASA takes it as a competition or do you feel it doesn’t matter until it benefits the humanity?
I’m very happy with any probe successfully reaching Mars! ISRO is the first space agency to get to Mars on their first try. It’s an incredible accomplishment and they should be proud. I don’t think NASA is worried about “competition” anymore. The Space Race has been over for a long time.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I enjoy playing board games with my friends and I am an amateur bartender.
There is an affirmative possibility of a movie on your novel The Martian. How did you take up the news? Are working on the script?
I’m very excited about the possibility of a film. The script was written by Drew Goddard, and the film is set to be directed by Ridley Scott. Matt Damon has signed on to play Mark Watney.
Are you working on anything at the moment? When can we see your next work?
I’m working on my next novel now, tentatively titled “Zhek”. I hope to release it late next year.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
My advise is “Write!”. It’s easy to get caught up in world-building and daydreams about your novel. The hard part is to actually write it.
About ANDY’S Reading Life
Are you a reader? What do you prefer while reading: Paperbacks or eBooks?
I prefer paper books. I will eventually move over to e-readers, I think. But for now, I still prefer paper.
One book that you would read again & again?
My favorite book is probably “I, Robot” by Isaac Asimov. I’ve read that dozens of times.
Your favorite author(s)?
Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, and Arthur C. Clarke.
What book(s) are you reading at present?
Right now I’m reading World War Z.