Name : Hugh Howey
Where are you from
North Carolina, but I’ve lived all over. I now reside in Jupiter, Florida with my wife Amber and our dog Bella.
A little about your self `ie your education Family life ect
I grew up in a small town. My father was a farmer and my mother a schoolteacher. They divorced when I was young, leaving my mother to raise three children on her own.
I was a voracious reader as far back as I can remember. I went to college in Charleston, SC, where I lived on a small sailboat to save money and to have some adventure. I dropped out after my Junior year even though my grades were great to sail down to the islands.
That led to a career as a yacht captain, which is how I met my wife of ten years. When she dragged me away from the sea, I took up a childhood dream of writing a novel. For the past several years, that’s pretty much all I’ve been doing: writing and publishing anything I can dream up.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I just finished my first horror novel, I, ZOMBIE. It’s a unique take on the genre, as my protagonists are all zombies. And rather than being the unthinking brutes we take them to be, they are in a locked-in state. They have all their old memories and personalities, but they can’t stop themselves from committing unspeakable acts. They are forced to watch themselves do it. It’s a very gruesome book, not least of all because of the similarities I point out between our condition and theirs.
I’m also helping Random House get ready for the hardback release of WOOL in the UK and Australia. They are putting a lot of muscle behind the release with awesome proof copies and a killer book trailer. In addition to the UK deal, we have 15 or so other foreign book deals that are moving forward. There’s also the film in pre-production with Ridley Scott and Steve Zaillian. On top of all of this, my wife took a new job in Florida, which has meant selling our old home and buying one down here. A lot is going on all at once!
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I tried writing a novel when I was twelve, but I couldn’t stick with it. Since then, I’ve started a handful of stories with similar success. About four years ago, I tried again but with a better understanding of what was involved. I had been working as a book reviewer for a while, which allowed me to interview authors much as you’re doing. When I saw that these were just regular folks who sat down and wrote all day long, it gave me a renewed purpose. I’ve been writing nonstop ever since.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Not until I quit my day job. When I decided I could support myself on my sales, that’s when it moved from being a hobby to a profession. It was terrifying. I’m still getting used to telling people, when they ask, that I’m a “writer.” It does’t sound right at all.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I was inspired to write by a book conference I went to. An author on a panel answered a question about how to become a writer by practically shouting that you just have to write. It woke me up.
As for what inspired the subject matter of what I wrote, I based the story on my own adventures as a yacht captain. The islands I frequented became planets, the various cultures became alien races, and my romance with my wife became the fictional romance of my characters.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
Yes. Choppy sentences. Sentence fragments. And interspersed with these, a bevy of longer strings of prose that are held together with commas, that feature a bit of repetition, and that are composed like songs in a musician’s head with as much care in how the words sing-song progress as with rules of grammar or the care for semantics.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
WOOL? It’s from the saying of having wool pulled over one’s eyes. That’s the figurative sense. The literal sense is from the cleaning pads they scrub the lenses with. There are more meanings beyond these two, but they’re the main ones I had in mine.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Quite a few. I want them to question whether we can know if the world is a good or bad place simply from accepting what a single screen in our home tells us. I want them to think about whether a sad life is worth living, or if it’s better to seek truth and happiness, even if it kills us. And finally, is it justified to rise up and fight for justice if the body count will be higher than the unjust thing we rail against? None of these are easy questions. I don’t pretend to know the answer.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
Roughly 82.4%. The rest is made up.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I thought a lot about my recent grief from losing my dog. It was a traumatic experience, and I think it colors the tone of the story. Living in a bunker was probably influenced by the nuclear disaster drills they had us perform in grade school.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?
THE BLANK SLATE by Stephen Pinker and COSMOS by Carl Sagan. The latter opened my mind to the vastness and infinite possibilities of our universe. The former demonstrated the rigidity and limitations of our minds.
Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Neal Gaiman. He can write in so many genres and with such a variety of voices. He also knows how to handle all the non-writing stuff. And he gets to write comics. I have a total writer-crush on him.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I hardly have the time, but I’m working on the Steve Jobs biography and NEPTUNE’S INFERNO, a WWII book. I almost only read non-fiction.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I don’t read a lot of authors, per se. I read books. I often don’t know who wrote them. I’m the same with music. I can sing every lyric and not be able to name the song nor the band.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
I’m working on the next Silo Story (book 7 in the series), and I just started my first romance novel! I’m also producing the audiobook for WOOL, which is coming along very nicely.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
The Tin Roof. It’s this bar in Charleston, SC. They’ve had me in for readings since my very first book. I think I’ve done five readings there. They have been a huge support, and I’ll always look forward to going back again and again.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
For now, yeah. Until people move on to the next guy or gal. I saw being a yacht captain as a career until it wasn’t. Right now, writing pays my bills. And I love doing it. I couldn’t be happier, but that doesn’t mean it’ll last.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Not in I, ZOMBIE, no. It’s completely original, and I love that about the book. Anything I changed would be a deviation from that, an attempt to make it more normal. I wouldn’t want that.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
No. It was just my love of reading, and so my desire to create these worlds that I loved exploring. It might have been ENDER’S GAME that first got me thinking about becoming an author. or THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Getting rid of all the typos. Where do they come from! Why can’t they be vanquished!
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Neal Stephenson and Neil Gaiman are both amazing. I just love how they create worlds and people that I can believe in. And it’s not always the same world over and over, which is a trap other authors fall into.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I travel for promotional reasons. I go to conferences and meet-ups and to talk to classrooms. But not for research.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I did my own covers for the longest time. Now I get help from Mike Tabor and Jasper Schreurs. They’re both much better at it than I am.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Knowing when to stop, when it’s done. I could revise forever if I allowed myself.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Yeah: Don’t be afraid to write garbage. Trust that you’ll revise it to perfection later. This can paralyze a writer and keep them from writing at all. Don’t fall into that trap. All first drafts stink; that’s part of the process.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Just to thank them for the support and all the interactions. I love getting to know them and having a rapport with them. It’s the best part of all this.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done ?
Be an astronaut. Really. I was born for that. It just takes too much damn schooling!
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? if so what is it
www.hughhowey.com It has a nice and active forum as well. Stop by!