TQ: Welcome to The Qwillery!
Rob: Thank you for having me.
TQ: What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
Rob: I love to edit, and spend far more time honing my prose than creating it (I’m sure I spend least 15 hours editing for each hour that I spend writing completely fresh prose). Although I’m a thoroughly digital person, my preferred mode of editing is with print-out’s and red pens.
TQ: Who are some of your favorite writers? Who do you feel has influenced your writing?
Rob: Stanislaw Lem has definitely been a huge influence on my writing. I have been a fan since I was very young and I enjoyed the satirical lunacy of his short stories.
And of course anyone who writes playful science fiction is influenced to some degree by Douglas Adams.
TQ: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Rob: I began Year Zero as a a carefree pantser, just enjoying the scenarios and characters. Then a friend who read an early draft of the book suggested that it would be better if it ... you know, had a plot. This is when I became a plotter. I already had all my characters and knew many of my scenes, but I spent about two months bending it all into a coherent storyline (and then I spent the next six months re-writing, re-re-writing, and re-re-re-writing it).
TQ: What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?
Rob: I find it very easy to write, I’m not one of those writers who has to force themselves to sit down every day. What I find challenging is knowing when to stop for the day. I would write 15 hours a day if my wife didn’t put her foot down (and I am very grateful to her for doing so).
TQ: Describe Year Zero in 140 characters or less.
Rob: Enraged at by ruinous fines on their collections of pirated American music, aliens seek to destroy the earth. Only a lawyer can stop them.
TQ: What inspired you to write Year Zero?
Rob: I wanted to write a novel for many years, but life is busy and there always seemed like there was something else more urgent. Then I was stuck on an island off the coast of Colombia and had read everything I brought with me. I decided to start typing out an idea I had had for many years, and the descendant of what I wrote that day is actually the prologue (or Chapter Zero) of the book.
TQ: What sort of research did you do for Year Zero?
Rob: Year Zero is a science fiction novel that includes aliens and all their associated technology. However I wanted to render our world, modern day New York, as realistically and faithfully as possible. This includes information about our music industry, our copyright laws, and even the basic geography of the city. All of these were heavily researched and re-checked to make sure everything was as accurate as possible.
TQ: What is the oddest bit of information that you came across in your research?
Rob: A rumored secret train station and attendant tracks beaneath Grand Central Station play a prominent role in the book. It turns out that they do in fact exist...
TQ: Tell us something about Year Zero that is not in the book description.
Rob: There are hundreds (yes hundreds) of hidden musical references.
TQ: Who was the easiest character to write and why? Hardest and why?
Rob: The easiest character to write was Frampton. He is a charming likable dope who doesn’t suffer from an over-active inner life. The only problem came in his humor. He’s not smart enough to make jokes or engage in witty banter, so he had to be unintentionally funny.
The protagonist Nick Carter was difficult to get right. He is a copyright lawyer who is very cynical about copyright law. I didn’t want people to dislike him, lawyers ranking only under bankers and politicians as the least beloved members of our society. But I also needed him to be believable as a cynical & occasionally sneaky lawyer.
TQ: Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in Year Zero?
Rob: I enjoy any scene where Manda and Pugwash are forced to interact.
TQ: What is next?
Rob: I'm going to Disneyland.
TQ: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.
Rob: Thanks for having me!
About Year Zero
Year ZeroDel Rey, July 10, 2012
Hardcover and eBook, 384 pages
An alien advance party was suddenly nosing around my planet.
Worse, they were lawyering up. . . .
In the hilarious tradition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Rob Reid takes you on a headlong journey through the outer reaches of the universe—and the inner workings of our absurdly dysfunctional music industry.
Low-level entertainment lawyer Nick Carter thinks it’s a prank, not an alien encounter, when a redheaded mullah and a curvaceous nun show up at his office. But Frampton and Carly are highly advanced (if bumbling) extraterrestrials. And boy, do they have news.
The entire cosmos, they tell him, has been hopelessly hooked on humanity’s music ever since “Year Zero” (1977 to us), when American pop songs first reached alien ears. This addiction has driven a vast intergalactic society to commit the biggest copyright violation since the Big Bang. The resulting fines and penalties have bankrupted the whole universe. We humans suddenly own everything—and the aliens are not amused.
Nick Carter has just been tapped to clean up this mess before things get ugly, and he’s an unlikely galaxy-hopping hero: He’s scared of heights. He’s also about to be fired. And he happens to have the same name as a Backstreet Boy. But he does know a thing or two about copyright law. And he’s packing a couple of other pencil-pushing superpowers that could come in handy.
Soon he’s on the run from a sinister parrot and a highly combustible vacuum cleaner. With Carly and Frampton as his guides, Nick now has forty-eight hours to save humanity, while hopefully wowing the hot girl who lives down the hall from him.
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