Today we'll be interviewing the Canadian science fiction novelist Zachry Wheeler, author of Transient. According to Amazon, it's basically about vampire spies in the future. (Paranormal sci-fi?) I have not had the opportunity to read any of his works yet, but after this interview, I'm thinking I need to change that.
What cool and exciting things have been happening in your life recently?
I was recently invited to give a presentation on Writing From Book to Film at the annual Dublin Writers Conference in Ireland. I am a regular on the convention circuit where I give presentations on numerous topics, but this will be the first time that I cross an ocean to give a talk. I have visited Dublin many times and love the city, so I am very excited to return on a business trip.
The reason I am giving the presentation ties directly into another exciting thing that happened. My novel Transient is currently in development with Voltage Pictures (The Hurt Locker, Dallas Buyers Club) to become a feature film. I have been very active in the process, which is quite rare from an author perspective. I have even edited the script, which gives me a screenwriting credit on the movie.
The whole experience has opened numerous doors in the industry where I now serve as a script doctor for other projects. As a result, my other series Max and the Multiverse is in the beginning stages of being adapted for television.
Wow! Living the author's dream of seeing their work go on the big screen! (Well, it's a dream for some of others. For others, it's a nightmare, but it looks like you'll be making sure the abomination of the Percy Jackson movies doesn't happen to Transient.)
Is your recent book part of a series? If so, can you tell us a bit about where the story is heading?
My most recently published book would be Max and the Banjo Ferret, which is Book Three of my Max and the Multiverse sci-fi comedy series. I have also published a short story since then entitled The Item of Monumental Importance, which takes place between the first two books.
As far as the series arch goes, I have managed to reach a resting point with the completion of the third book. There is still plenty more story to tell and I plan to continue the series for many books to come, but I am no longer leaving readers on a cliffhanger ending.
Aw, but cliffhangers are so fun! They're the best way to torture readers.
Can you tell us about what you're currently working on?
I had started a spin-off series for Max and the Multiverse and wrote a large chunk of the initial draft, but the project ended up sidelined in favor of the Transient sequel. This was mostly due to the first book getting selected for the Prime Reading program at Amazon. The spike in popularity has renewed interest in the sequel, hence the refocus. I had already outlined the next two books, so it was just a matter of getting to work. I am finishing up the first draft and hope to be editing very soon.
What did you edit out of your book?
When I wrote the initial drafts of Transient, much of it read like a technical manual about vampire biology. The material was interesting to me, but it significantly bogged down the story. It was my first book and I had no idea what I was doing, but after years of editing and revising, I learned that most of the backstory was superfluous. I ended up trimming a novella’s worth of material from the final draft. And for those who have read the book, that’s where the “recon” sections came from. They allowed me to maintain pace while doling out important details.
So, basically, editing the exposition. The bane of so many authors.
Are you an early bird writer or night owl? And do you have any must haves like coffee, chocolates, wine, music or something else required for your creative process?
Definitely a night owl, but my writing times are largely sporadic. I write at all hours, usually after I work through the current narrative arch, no matter what time that may be. As far as necessities go, I need coffee and silence. I don’t see how writers keep their concentration with music playing. I can get yanked out of the process by a car horn off in the distance.
Funny! I just started a habit of playing classical music on my laptop while working. Now I can't live without that white noise. (Probably because it tunes out all the annoying car horns.)
Do you have complete control over your characters or do they ever control you?
I would say a little bit of both. For the most part, I can steer my characters in the directions I need them to go. But every now and then, the narrative will shift course because someone needed something that I hadn’t foreseen.
A lot of authors are frustrated by readers who don’t understand how important reviews are. What would you say to a reader who doesn’t think his or her review matters?
It pains me to admit that ratings and reviews are absolutely critical to the success of every writer, especially indie authors. It helps to view ratings as reputation currency, the cred we use in order to get seen and promoted. I will often soften the request by saying that reviews don’t need to be complicated, just a sentence or two is perfectly fine. It’s the ratings that are most important.
Good advice. I sometimes hear, "You shouldn't write for reviews. You should write for your heart and soul."
Okay, but I need to eat...
Do you have any advice for new authors?
(Deer in headlights.) Holy hell, where to start. If I had to boil it down to a single bit of wisdom, it would be to temper your expectations. Writing is the easy part. Getting it polished, published, and promoted is where the real work begins. I would say that publishing a book is 10% writing and 90% other crap you never wanted to do.
If you could have a dinner with one fictional person, who would it be? Why?
Rust Cohle from True Detective. My worldview is largely misanthropic, but not in a debilitative way. No other fictional character has ever captured my intrigue like Rust, who mirrored my own views on life, the universe, and everything. I would love to pick his brain over a dinner conversation.
If you could go to any fictional world, where would you go? Why?
Pretty much any world in which humans have colonized space. My one enduring dream to leave this planet and explore the cosmos. You know those “I don’t want to live on this planet anymore” memes? Yeah, that’s me every day.
Hey, you might get your wish! According to scientists, this planet is toast unless we get our act together.
What might we be surprised to know about you?
I spent a decade in the music industry before I started writing as my primary outlet. I fronted several rock bands in the past and released four studio albums. I have always pursued some sort of creative endeavor, but never thought that it would be writing, which fits my personality much better these days. I just don’t have the energy to jump around the stage anymore. And for anyone interested, you can check out my old acts online: The Mayhematic and Sydewynder.
You're getting old, Zach. ;P
Thank you for coming onto my blog!
The first Dragons, Zombies and Aliens blog was started in 2015. Somewhere between college coursework, paying rent with door-to-door sales, and keeping up with my sorority sisters, I wrote reviews, rants and commentaries on books, TV shows, and movies. Now, this blog has moved, improved, and the sky's the limit!