– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –
Today I’m on the ‘XYZ’ blogtour, organised by Rachel’s Random Resources.
To promote this book I have a Q&As post, but b
About the Author :
William Knight is British born writer and technologist currently living and working in Wellington, New Zealand. He’s chased a portfolio career which began in acting, progressed to music, flirted with handbag manufacturing and was eventually wired into technology in the late nineties.
“I had my first feature published in Computing magazine back in 2003 and subsequently wrote about the many successes and failings of high-tech for the Guardian, Financial Times and the BBC among many others publications. I now work as an IT consultant, and write blistering content for technology firms 🙂 ” says William.
The Donated (formerly Generation), his debut novel and a Sci-tech Thriller, started in 2001 and was ten years in development. XYZ, “A mid-life crisis with a comic vein”, took far less time. “But I think it’s funnier and better. Yay. Jazz hands!”
Jack Cooper is a depressed, analogue throwback; a cynical, alcoholic Gen-Xer whose glory days are behind him. He’s unemployed, his marriage has broken down, he’s addicted to internet hook-ups, and is deeply ashamed of his son Geronimo, who lives life dressed as a bear.
When Jack’s daughter engineers a job for him at totally-lit tech firm Sweet, he’s confronted by a Millennial and Zoomer culture he can’t relate to. He loathes every detail – every IM, gif and emoji – apart from Freya, twenty years his junior and addicted to broadcasting her life on social media.
Can Jack evolve to fit in at Sweet, or will he remain a dinosaur stuck in the 1980s? And will he halt his slide into loneliness and repair his family relationships?
XYZ is for every Gen-Xer who ever struggled with a device, and for everyone else who loves emojis … said no one ever.
First of all thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions, I really appreciate it. Here we go! 🙂
Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
I have this dog, called Ludo. He’s a black and white border collie but is far too big and we suspect he’s got some greyhound genes or perhaps giantism. Anyway, he has his rituals, like cleaning himself between 6 and 7 in the morning, digging holes, walks, and he stands on the balcony at twilight and barks at the neighbours. I suspect most writers have something of the ludo in them. We have our rituals; we get ideas in our heads and regardless of how daft or pointless, we get them out on a PC and turn them into books. It’s simply in the genes. I am Ludo, he is me.
Which books did/do you love to read as a child/now as a grown-up?
I was asked to compile a list of all the books I’d read in a year for my English teacher when I was 11. I can still remember that list, because it gave me great anxiety ove whether Asterix and Obelix counted as books (their picture/comic books you see). I wanted to get the numbers up to seem like an avid reader but I spent so much time trawling for comic gems in those Gosciny and Urdezo classics that the only other thing on the list were a couple of Moominpapas and a Secret Seven. I did include them, I still do. I love Asterix.
Is there any writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
Robert Persig, the writer of Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance. I don’t think the book is a particular example of literaryness (is that a word?) but the thinking that has gone into it and the concepts for a happy life are genius. I’d like to sit down with Robert, over a lovely vegetarian meal and a glass of Kombucha, to discuss life the universe and everything. Art is the root of all logic.
If you could, which fictional character (from your own book(s) or someone else’s) would you like to invite for tea and why?
Well I certainly wouldn’t invite Jack Cooper from XYZ to dinner without watering him down with some others. Like Victor Meldrew, he’s hilarious but can be terrifying with his truthful but cynical views of the world. Sometimes you just need to forget that it’s all fu**ed up. Don’t you?
So who else? Rob Gordon from Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity. He’s cynical too, but a little less political and moany than Jack. I’d invite him to dinner for a few rounds of the CD game (choosing your personal desert island discs) and discussions on famous break ups.
Do you have some rituals or habits whilst writing?
I like to write in a meditative state – sounds pretentious, but it’s not as bad as all that — let me explain. I write using a Pomodoro, which is a tomato shaped timer that marks each second with a satisfying low-frequency tick-tock. It ticks for 25 mins during which time you focus utterly on writing – no distractions, no Twitter or FB, no research or looking up baby-names and no disturbances that you can control (earth quakes are okay). It’s lovely. You get into this flowling zone of writingness, and it’s become a habit. I look forward to sitting down and turning the timer on. I just, well, chill.
Where do you come up with your idea(s)? Do people in your life need to be worried? 😉
Ha ha. Most definitely they should worry, but only about politics and climate change. My ideas come from my experiences and my interests in science/technology. There’s always a strong thread of cautionary tale in my work as I wrestle with the benefit-risk balance of some idea or other. My first book, The Donated (Generation), is about science gone wrong resulting in an epidemic of people coming back to life as they regenerate, and the most recent book XYZ is about the social dangers of our addictions to devices and the internet. You may not realise these books are connected, but they are.
Are you a plotter or do you go with the flow, as a pantser?
As in go by the seat of my pants? Well, I’m a panster-plotter. At my best, I write first drafts with little planning and lots of panstering, but I then map out the story, get the hero’s journey going, add and delete scenes and make the whole thing hang together. I work with a structural editor to do this.
Can you give novice writers some tips (do’s/don’ts)?
Sit. Write. Focus. Leave the internet alone.
What are your futureplans as an author?
Ludo (my dog) figures strongly in my life at the moment so I think I want to weave him into some story about a middle-aged man suffering from imposter syndrome. You see a dog thinks it’s human more than it thinks it’s a canine, so your average dog is a perfect character with which to explore this idea, because for all it’s humanity, it still digs for bones and barks at birds – it must annoy itself, but it can’t help it. Like us. We do stuff that reflects our animalism, and yet we know we shouldn’t or know better – we just can’t help it sometimes.
Last, but not least : Can you give my readers one teaser from your book, which is featured here on my blog, please?
Jack Cooper’s problems stem from the youthful hope he fostered as a young computer programmer. In this brief extract, we hear him think of his disappointment in a career that promised so much but delivered (in his eyes) so little.
I was part of a small wave of silicon-brained cool kids that was destined to become a tsunami. My generation was going to make the world a better place and in record time. We had ideas of perfect information, total transparency, evidence-based-government and university for all. We were the builders of Utopia and the founders of global prosperity. We were Gods.
And it was fun. Fun to spend 10p on a video game and bash the console into submission. Fun to program pretty patterns on a screen and load games from a floppy disk, and fun to be part of the BBC’s Micro Live phenomenon, when the broadcaster sponsored its own computer as part of its remit to educate the masses.
And it remained fun until it became a trap, when computers ceased to be the promise of progress and instead became the terrorists of truth. Somewhere along the way, I turned from God of Silicon to an anorak-wearing dweeb, and from dweeb to a lonely fifty-five-year-old bastard. One at the end of his career, hopelessly out of touch, and unable to operate his own phone.
Isn’t that a great reason to pick up this book and to find out more?!
Thanks once again for this lovely interview, William Knight.
Win $10 Amazon voucher and a signed copy of XYZ (Open INT)
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The Magic of Wor(l)ds
P.S. Are you an author (or publisher) who also wants a FREE interview like this? You can always contact me via e-mail!