As The Plot Thins (ATPT): How long have you been writing short stories or fiction? Most of your fans know about Galactanet, but have any of those stories made it out to other domains/formats?
Andy Weir (AW): I’ve been writing in one form or another my whole life. I think I wrote my first short stories when I was about 8. I started seriously writing and trying to get it published when I was in college.
ATPT: “The Egg”, one of your short stories, frequently receives high praise. Where did you come up with the idea for that story?
AW: I wanted to come up with a story where it turns out life is fair after all. That’s what I came up with.
ATPT: Let’s chat about The Martian. How did you go about creating Mark Watney and his particularly difficult situation?
AW: I am a space nerd and I like to sit around and envision missions. Not just the broad strokes, but the little details. I was daydreaming about how a manned mission to Mars would work, and I started thinking of all the things that could go wrong. I started working out solutions to those problems and then thought up more problems. It started to get pretty cool and I realized there was a story in it.
ATPT: A part of the novel I really enjoyed was your homage to some of the old television shows, especially Three’s Company. Are they shows you watch or grew up watching?
AW: Absolutely! I was part of a generation that watched a ton of TV. There was no internet when I was a kid, but there were infinite reruns on every station.
ATPT: The Martian is filled with some pretty science-y and technological terms. Is this all just self research or how were you able to articulate these parts so well? Are you actually a botanist?
AW: I’m not a botanist, no. I’m a software engineer. But I’ve had a lifelong love of space research and manned spaceflight. And I did a huge amount of research for the book. I wanted things to be as accurate as I could make them.
ATPT: What’s your writing process like? Is it a closed door, no noise environment or do you prefer music? What do you find let’s you be the most productive?
AW: I need relative silence and no distractions. I also need to be alone, because it’s too embarrassing otherwise. I usually work out dialog by saying it aloud. Anyone watching me would probably think I was having a schizophrenic episode.
ATPT: You seem to be a pretty big buff on sci-fi. What are some of your favorite things sci-fi? Be them movies/books/comics/or whatever.
AW: I love a good sci-fi movie. As for books, I like the old-school classics. Asimov, Clarke, and Heinlein.
ATPT: What’s next? Are you working on anything at the moment or do you take some time off?
AW: I’m working on my next book. I’m not talking about it publicly yet because I’m still pitching it to the publisher. But hopefully they’ll take an interest and I can get rolling on it.
You can check out Andy’s other writings at his site here.
Thanks again to Andy for participating in the interview and to Sarah Breivogel at Random House for helping us set it up.