Zeedub Selfies: Blobs, Breaks, and Anthony Bourdain
Posted on July 29, 2021
Category: Zeedub Selfies
Zachry Wheeler, Science Fiction Novelist

Zeedub Selfies is an ongoing series where I talk to myself like a reclusive weirdo. Which, in truth, I am. I developed a simple tool for authors to hone their interview skills with random questions, which ended up being way more fun than intended. Thus, I thought it would be amusing to record my own answers from time to time.

What was the inspiration for your latest story?

For Nimi: When First Contact Becomes Last Call, I took inspiration from several sci-fi classics like The War of the Worlds and The Day the Earth Stood Still. I am always looking for tropes to satirize and got an idea for a “first contact” spoof. I realized that alien visitors were typically portrayed as saviors or hostiles, with nothing in between. So I thought, what if they were just douchebag tourists? And thus was born the story.

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

As of this post, I have 12 published titles (7 novels and 5 shorts). My favorite would be a tie between Thursday Midnight and Roy: The Most Chaotic Midlife Crisis in Cosmic History. Both were hugely satisfying for different reasons. I wanted to craft the Transient sequel as a supernatural thriller and was very happy with the results. Thursday Midnight is a punchy read that contains my favorite scene to date (the lobby ambush). Roy, on the other hand, was a lot of fun to write and I even laughed during the editing process. I am very proud of the concept and realization, which now serves as my “start here” for new readers.

You can go out to dinner at any restaurant. Which one do you choose?

Le Continental in Quebec City, no contest. It remains the single greatest dining experience that my wife and I have ever had. We lived in Toronto for a few years, where we uncovered several culinary gems. We’re also big fans of the late Anthony Bourdain, who featured Le Continental for Parts Unknown. This prompted a trip to Quebec City, which ended up being a highlight of our time in Canada. It’s hard to describe just how magical this restaurant is. You really have to experience it for yourself.


My lovely wife outside of Le Continental in Quebec City

If you could spend time as a character from your book, whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?

Definitely Phil from Max and the Multiverse. An all-knowing blob on a paradise planet all to himself? That’s living the dream! I would find a beautiful place to relax and spend the entire day enjoying the blissful silence of total isolation.

Do you make your own vocabulary words in your book or resort to the existing ones?

I make up words all the time, especially within the crazy world of Puki Horpocket Presents. The entire saga takes place on the Durangoni Space Station, a planet-sized colossus with a trillion alien residents. It’s fun to think up new words to describe weird concepts. In fact, some were carried over from Max and the Multiverse when the crew visited the station. One of my favorites is “zarbopplement,” a word that denotes a potent mixture of shock, awe, vertigo, and a sudden desire to contemplate the meaning of life.

Does it get frustrating if you are unable to recall an idea you had in your mind some time earlier?

Nah. Losing an idea just tells me that it wasn’t worth remembering. I used to jot them down, but not anymore. I think Stephen King said it best: “A writer’s notebook is the best way in the world to immortalize bad ideas.” The good ones stick around, goad your mind, and eventually lead to first chapters.

How do you deal with emotional impact of a book (on yourself) as you are writing the story?

Depends on the material. It’s not an issue when writing for Puki Horpocket Presents or Max and the Multiverse because the stories are light in tone and fun to think about. The Immortal Wake, on the other hand, was an emotional slog from start to finish. The Mortal Vestige (book three) was especially brutal due to the subject matter. I needed prolonged breaks between sessions just to reset my headspace.

Being an author, how susceptible are you to getting recognized on the street?

This is a HUGE burden for me. I am constantly getting harassed for autographs and selfies. And by that I mean precisely the opposite. Nobody recognizes me on the street. Hell, they barely recognize me at conventions when they’re actually looking.

I love the baked-in anonymity of writing and I doubt that even famous authors have this problem. There are very few who I would recognize in public, even as a fan. Aside from the obligatory headshot, most writers have little interest in a public persona. We would much rather have a famous book cover.

What are some ways in which you promote your work? Do you find that these add to or detract from your writing time?

Marketing is simultaneously the most hated and most critical part of a successful authorship. My own strategy includes everything from paid ads to conventions. It all detracts from writing and new authors are often blindsided by the commitment. It sucks up a huge amount of time and attention, which only gets worse with multiple titles. These days, the actual “writing” part of my author career feels like a vacation.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

At this point, anything that can be published has been published, so there’s nothing left in the release queue. On the flip side, I have a large library of unfinished manuscripts. My works in progress include book four of Max and the Multiverse, multiple titles in Puki Horpocket Presents, an Immortal Wake novella, and several stand-alone novels. And now that Nimi has crossed the finish line, I have to figure out what to focus on next. Any suggestions? 😀

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