The Phoenix Comicon interview series continues with Chuck Wendig.
Known for his “Miriam Black” series, about a woman who knows when people will die, the prolific Wendig is also a game designer, screenwriter, comic writer and blogger, dishing out writing advice and foul-mouthed opinions on his website, terribleminds.net.
But the big feather in his already enormous writing cap is the upcoming Star Wars: Aftermath. Coming in September, the novel will bridge the stories between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens.
I caught up with Wendig on his way to his spotlight panel at Phoenix Comicon for a brief chat about his multiple projects. I’d already been a fan of his online presence and activism, and although I have not read his work before, he sold me through his warm, generous and funny personality.
That’s one of the reasons I wanted to run this interview this week. Over the past weekend Wendig got caught up in some social media ugliness (which I’m not going to rehash – I recommend reading Delilah Dawson’s excellent blog post about the whole mess though), and I wanted to share my experience chatting with him.
People don’t really believe this happened this way, but I swear to all the Gods and all the stars that it is true.
On Sept. 4 I tweeted that I would like to write a Star Wars novel. I made an Internet wish. And various forces conspired to make it come true. I had a friend on the editorial side, and a friend on the film side and another Star Wars author. So at another comic-con I met an editor who had read my novel Under the Empyrean Sky, which is described as Star Wars meets John Steinbeck, and thought it would be a good fit.
And to the date, Sept. 4, one year later, the book will be coming out.
And it is the immediate aftermath of Return of the Jedi?
That’s right. I can’t talk about the plot. I can’t even look at it. It’s all very hush hush. I’m not even sure I’m writing it. I send in my edits and I don’t know if they’re for this book or not.
You have several other projects in the works as well. You’re giving out copies of your upcoming novel Zer0es, which comes out in August.
Yes! It’s the story of a group of D-list hackers who get swept up by the government to battle a self-aware surveillance program. It’s a cyber-thriller with all sorts of exciting moments in it.
Sort of Skynet meets the NSA?
There’s a lot of that going on! It’s about surveillance culture and what happens when it becomes truly weaponized.
came out in January. It’s about a teenage girl and her pet shotgun. Isn’t that sweet?
How do you keep up with such diverse projects? Is it a linear process, one after the other, or do you alternate between them?
The secret is crystal meth, really. Lots and lots of crystal meth. No, not really. I work on them one at a time, usually for a couple months. Then I’m editing one while I’m writing the next one.
I have a writing shed that I use. It’s in the woods, so I go out every morning to work, amongst the ants and white-tail deer. I gambol with the wildlife, and then I write. I usually write 3000 words a day and I work five days a week, so every week that’s about 15,000 new words. That’s how I roll.
Sort of the Brandon Sanderson method?
You mean, “write a lot”? I prefer to call it the “I have bills to pay method.”
No, no. I’m not a robot. But I do have clones. Multiple clones help out a lot. They don’t do the writing, of course. They’re the ones that handle the other chores.
They’re the ones that are here at Con, meeting fans and talking on panels?
Exactly! They’re out there right now roaming. Just roaming. Free range clones.
It’s awesome! It’s just the right size. It’s not San Diego or New York. Not the type where you can’t move. It’s busy and active but you can still meet fans and get things done.
Any comments about the other authors here?
They’re all terrible and you shouldn’t buy their books (laughs). Actually that’s one of the great things about Phoenix. There are so many great authors here, not just great authors but great friends. Talented people.
Kevin Hearne is the nicest guy ever. He’s so nice he’s probably a serial killer. Stephen Blackmoore and Delilah Dawson, are longtime friends. But there are people I’m meeting for the first time as well — Richard Kadrey, Scott Sigler. I’ve loved their books and I’m getting to chat with them now.
So you’re playing fan boy as well.