My interview with Andy Weir, author of The Martian

Andy Weir author of The Martian

I see a lot of sci-fi movies and they often copycat each other. When I saw “The Martian”, I was readily impressed with the unique concept. The film was thought-provoking, well-crafted and embeds science applications and mathematical theory which made the movie fascinating.

Because of my fascination with the movie, I thought it would be a brilliant idea to interview Andy Weir the author of the best selling novel. My husband mentioned that his college friend from UCLA, used to work with Andy Weir in the ’90s for two different companies – Blizzard and AOL. I also made the right connections with Weir’s publicist. With these two contacts,  my idea has turned into fruition.

Best Selling Novel The Martian by Andy Weir

Best Selling Novel The Martian by Andy Weir

As I was communicating with Andy, it dawned on me that we were former co-workers who never met, technically speaking. I was with AOL-Digital City in Santa Monica from 1998-2001 and Andy worked for AOL from 1996-1999 in Irvine.

I was very fortunate to do a Q and A with Andy prior to attending the Planetary Society’s 35th Anniversary in Pasadena, October 24th. I started with the question which I was most curious about – what was his motivation to write his third book, “The Martian“.

Q and A with Andy Weir at the 35th Anniversary of Planetary Society in Pasadena

Q and A with Andy Weir at the 35th Anniversary of Planetary Society in Pasadena

Ruchel: What was your motivation to write “The Martian“?
Andy: I was imagining a manned Mars mission, putting it together in my mind. Naturally, you have to account for failure scenarios and have plans for what the crew could do. I realized those failure scenarios made for a pretty interesting story.

 

Andy Weir special guest at the 35th anniversary of Planetary Society

Andy Weir special guest at the 35th anniversary of Planetary Society

Ruchel: Can you tell us how it all began…from having an agent, signing a book deal to having Fox purchasing the movie rights?
Andy: Originally the book was just a serial I posted a chapter at a time to my website. Once the book was done, people started requesting that I make an e-book version so they didn’t have to read it in a web browser. So I did and posted it to my site. Then other people emailed saying they want to read the e-book, but they aren’t technically savvy and don’t know how to download a file from the internet and put it on their e-reader. They requested I make a Kindle version they could just get through Amazon. So I did that as well. I set the price at Amazon’s minimum allowable price of $0.99. More people bought the book from Amazon than downloaded it for free from my website. Amazon has a truly amazing reach into the readership market. The book sold very well and made its way up various top-seller lists on Amazon. That got the attention of Julian Pavia at Crown. He told his colleague David Fugate (a literary agent) about it. David ended up becoming my agent and Julian offered me a book deal. It was a whirlwind of activity because 20th Century Fox optioned the movie rights that same week.

Book Signing event after Q and A

Book Signing event after Q and A

 Ruchel: How satisfied are you with the movie? Was there anything you wish they added or removed?
Andy: I’m very happy with the film! Yeah, they made some changes. They had to pull things out, or the film would be five hours long. But overall it’s a very faithful adaptation of the book and I’m thrilled with how it turned out.

 Ruchel: For those who saw the movie, I hear a lot of this question… Why Mark Watney’s family or love interest was not part of the movie?
Andy:  That sort of thing wasn’t in the book, either. Because it wasn’t needed. There’s no reason to have a cloying, schmaltzy emotional subplot. And it’s not like he needs a motivation to stay alive. We all automatically have a motivation to stay alive.

Long line at Andy Weir's book signing

Long line at Andy Weir’s book signing

 Ruchel: Was being a programmer helped you a lot in finishing the book?
Andy: Not really. I guess the main way it helped was I wrote some software to help me with orbital calculations.

 Ruchel: According to former astronaut Dr. John Grunsfeld, “”The Martian” book really nails the integrity of the astronaut’s creativity and improvisation.” What’s your take on that?
Andy: I’m happy to be validated by real astronauts.

 

Former co-workers reunion Tim Thein and Andy Weir

Former co-workers reunion Tim Thein and Andy Weir

Ruchel: A lot of bloggers have regular day jobs and blog about what their passion is. What word of advice can you give them to turn their passion into a career?
Andy: It’s all about motivation. You have to find the time and energy to pursue your passions.

 Ruchel: Are you going to write another “The Martian” book like a sequel or a prequel?
Andy: No plans for a sequel. There’s really nowhere to go with it. Putting him in trouble again would be ridiculously implausible. Having him as a supporting character for someone else in trouble would be unsatisfying.

Ruchel Freibrun popbuff blogger and Andy Weir

 Ruchel: Any brewing projects that you want to tell your fans?
Andy: I’m working on my next book now. It’s a more traditional sci-fi novel with aliens, faster-than-light travel, etc. It’s tentatively titled “Zhek”. It should be out in late 2016.

The Martian book at The Planetary Society

Andy Weir with my two boys

Andy Weir with my two boys

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Comments

  1. Awesome interview. Well done.

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