by Jerika L.H.
American novelist Andrew Weir is living any writer’s dream – his 2011 novel The Martian was not only adapted into a critically acclaimed film, but the film has been regarded as one of the best movies of 2015. It took home two awards out of twenty-six nominations for Best Picture, and grossed a whopping $620.1 million in 2015 alone. This homegrown celebrity is not only a God among Sci-Fi buffs, but is an inspiration to writers everywhere. Although his head is usually contemplating life on Mars or Venus, he is surprisingly down-to-Earth, friendly and painfully humble. He recently took time out of his busy schedule to give an interview with the Davis Vanguard. He even offered up some words of advice for local writers.
Jerika: So, from Davis to Hollywood. Not too shabby, huh?
Andy Weir: You should be aware that I didn’t grow up in Davis. I was born in Davis, but my family moved to Livermore when I was two years old. I don’t even have any memories of living in Davis.
Jerika: Davis folks still want to claim you as their own, though. If Livermore thinks it gets to have both you and the Premium Outlet mall, it has another thing coming. How has the the success of ‘The Martian’ changed your life and career?
Andy Weir: It’s been a huge change. I used to be an unknown computer programmer and now I’m a famous writer. I write full time. I miss having co-workers, though. I liked my job, and I’m a friendly guy. Now I work alone all day. That took some getting used to.
Jerika: Well.. if you really miss having co-workers and need someone to come by to jam up your printer, eavesdrop on your personal calls and steal your lunch out of the fridge, let me know! Would you have ever dreamed your story would reach so many people?
Andy Weir: I never thought it would have mainstream appeal. I thought I was writing for a teeny, tiny niche audience of hardcore science dorks.
Jerika: Never underestimate the power of science dorks. What was it like seeing your work translated to the big screen with an A-list cast and numerous Academy Award nominations?
Andy Weir: It was amazing! When I first watched the film, I cried.
Jerika: Although the film stays pretty loyal to the book, some viewers pointed out the ways in which the film broke from the original story. Were you happy with the small changes in the Scott adaption?
Andy Weir. I’m very happy with the film! Yeah, they made some changes. They had to pull things out, or the film would be 5 hours long. But overall it’s a very faithful adaptation of the book and I’m thrilled with how it turned out.
Jerika: Was the casting of Matt Damon similar to how you envisioned Mark Watney when you wrote the book?
Andy Weir: Matt absolutely nailed the role. I couldn’t be happier with his performance.
Jerika: Some have cited both your book and its film adaption to set a precedent for NASA’s long term goals of the human inhabitation of Mars. The Space Review was quoted as saying “In the months leading up to the film’s release, space advocates have made clear their desire to use the movie as a tool for advocacy and outreach.” What are your thoughts on this?
Andy Weir: I don’t think it changed NASA’s priorities. Though it did give them more attention.
Jerika: Could you and your work possibly be one of the linchpins in making human life on Mars a possibility? How does it feel to be the guy who is rumored to have saved the NASA space program (and strengthened the duct tape industry)?
Andy Weir: I believe “The Martian” is just one small part of a resurging public interest in the space program. I’m really happy to see the trend, but I don’t think my book is responsible for it.
Jerika. So humble! But seriously…do you prefer Andyburg or Weirville once the first colony is erected in Mars?.. although New Andyweirtown does have a nice ring to it.
Andy Weir: I like “Watney.”
Jerika: What advice do you have for local writers? Did you face any struggles or adversities in your journey?
Andy Weir: 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. 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. 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.
Jerika: Are you still writing? What are you working on now?
Andy Weir: I’m working on my next book now. It’s about a city on the Moon. It’s another hard sci-fi novel where everything is accurate to real-world physics. I hope to have it out by mid 2017.
Jerika: Amazing! One last thing- boxers, briefs, or maximum absorbency space garments?
Andy Weir: Boxers.
Jerika: Thanks so much for being such a good sport! I’m crossing “interview award winning writer” off my bucket list as we speak- will be rubbing it in the faces of others tomorrow.
The Martian is still being shown in selects Sacramento theaters if you haven’t already seen it.