Zeedub Selfies: Roy, Rama, and Retirement
Posted on January 28, 2022
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.

Have you ever written a character with an actor in mind?

I have never started a project with an actor in mind, but characters will often reveal themselves as actors. One that sticks out for me is Max from Max and the Multiverse. From an early draft, I saw him as Jay Baruchel (think Hiccup from How to Train Your Dragon). His nerdy demeanor is spot-on for the character and it would pain me to see an adaptation without him.

Another good one is Jonas from the Immortal Wake series. I never had a clear picture of what he looked or sounded like. It wasn’t critical to the story, given the dark and foreboding tone. For the longest time, I saw him as a simplified version of Edward Norton from Fight Club. That was the default template, but it wasn’t until I watched Mr. Robot that Jonas came into full focus. Rami Malek’s performance was utterly captivating. I remember saying “That’s Jonas!” to my wife after the first episode. Now I can’t separate him from Malek.

Do you enjoy discussing upcoming ideas with your partner? If yes, how much do you value their inputs?

Oh yes, constantly. My wife knows every storyline long before I type the first sentence. She is a reliable sounding board and I have abandoned entire series based on her feedback. We’re very much in-tune when it comes to topics and ideas that pique our interest. So at this point, I write for her. If she likes a story, then I know my fans will.


My wife and I outside of Helsinki Cathedral in Finland

When you look back at your past, do you feel accomplished?

Yes, but it took a while to get there.

I was addicted to the hustle for a long time, but recently gave it up for peace of mind. I have released four albums, seven novels, and five shorts (with more to come). I have owned and operated several businesses. I have traveled the world, spoken at international conferences, acted in movies and television, and performed my own music in front of large crowds. I have lived a charmed life up to this point, so wanting more would just feel greedy.

What does the word ‘retirement’ mean to you? Do writers ever retire?

My definition of retirement is “sleeping in.” I still have a full-time career and publish on the side. When retirement comes, I see it as a reclamation of work hours for other pursuits. I’ve been working at home for many years, so I doubt my life will change all that much.

I don’t think writers ever fully retire. It’s one of the few ageless endeavors. As long as you have your wits, you can write yourself into the grave.

Do you like traveling or do you prefer staying indoors?

I used to love traveling, but I lost interest in my late thirties. These days, few destinations are intriguing enough to get me to an airport. Flying is a colossal headache that drains me of my will to live. I would much rather stay home and explore my local scene. I am thankful to live in New Mexico, which has a ton of culture and natural beauty.

What is something memorable you have heard from your readers or fans?

When I think of memorable feedback, I always think of the Two Gay Geeks podcast. Ben and Keith are fans of my works and like to interview me for new releases. When we spoke about Roy, Ben said that the novel read like a lost manuscript from Douglas Adams. That comment had me glowing for weeks.

Do you have any new series planned?

Several. In fact, book four of Max and the Multiverse will be the start of a brand-new series. It will still follow Max and the gang, but you won’t need to have read the previous trilogy. It will pick up where Banjo Ferret left off and focus on the major conflict teased during the final act.

What is your favorite book or story you have read as an adult?

Rendezvous With Rama by Arthur C. Clarke. It’s such a dense and compelling story with tons of alluring exposition. I am so glad that I didn’t read it as a teen because I would have seen it as tedious and boring. But as an adult, I had the right amount of patience to appreciate it. Rama has since become one of my all time favorites.

What are your views about elaborate synopsis of books at the back of the cover? Do you think they reveal too much?

Book blurbs are hard to craft and many authors get them terribly wrong. The golden rule is to introduce the protagonist and tease the main conflict. Everything else should be left a mystery. I have also learned to start crafting the blurb early, usually after the first draft. This allows time to uncover the main hooks, which are not always obvious.

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Depends on the material. Writing for the Immortal Wake can be exhausting because the story is dark and detail-heavy. But on the flip side, writing for Max and the Multiverse can be energizing because the story is light and fun. My happiest writing time is when I’m on a humor tear. When the jokes are landing and the story is galloping forward, I feel fantastic.

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