I read and reviewed UtES for VOYA and was so impressed by Wendig's way with language that I wanted to know more, so I arranged a twitterview with him. I was taken aback by the response on twitter to the interview. It turned out that others wanted to pitch their questions in as well.
I divided questions and responses by color. I'm red; Wendig is green; and everybody else is blue (yeah, it's my blog--I get to choose the colors!) Here's how it went down:
@clynncok (AKA, me!): Good morning, @ChuckWendig!
@ChuckWendig: Hi there!
@clynncok: So are you cool with just using the hashtag #twitterview?
@ChuckWendig: That works for me: #twitterview
Doing an interview right now, live, with @clynncok using the hashtag #twitterview -- follow along. OR DON'T SEE IF I CARE *sob*
@clynncok: Having a good Sunday?
@ChuckWendig: My Sunday is full of rain but also, my stomach is full of cream chipped beef (aka "shit on a shingle"). Good Sunday
The #twitterview will go for the next hour, I believe. @clynnok will be asking questions, but you're welcome to ask some, too. BECAUSE YAY.
(Just make sure to use that hashtag: #twitterview -- otherwise, your tweets will be eaten by the grim and unforgiving void.)
@clynncok: So, am I right that _Under the Empyrean Sky_ is your first YA novel?
@ChuckWendig: UNDER THE EMPYREAN SKY is not necessarily my first #YA novel: self-pubbed BAIT DOG is sorta-maybe YA, too.
@clynncok: Why #YA? As in, why are you doing #YA now?
@ChuckWendig: Why #YA now? I had a story to tell in that space, for one. But YA is where a lot of really smart, brave storytelling is.
@clynncok: Do you read much #YA?
@ChuckWendig: Didn't use to read much #YA, but I was schooled by very smart people about the awesome stuff out there: now it's regular TBR.
@clynncok: Cool! I love #YA. Examples of any of that "smart, brave storytelling," you were talking about?
@ChuckWendig: #YA examples of great storytelling? CODE NAME: VERITY. Or FAULT IN OUR STARS. Or THE DIVINERS. Or MARBURY LENS. Many options.
@clynncok: Dystopias seem to be hot in #YA right now, but that's not why you wrote one. Why did you write one?
@ChuckWendig: I did not conceive of UNDER THE EMPYREAN SKY as a dystopian (though it is): I wanted to write a sciencey-fantasy thing.
@karinacooper: There seems to be an endless demand for first-person POV over third in YA. Did you feel pressured to choose?
@ChuckWendig: I felt no pressure to write first person because the book was a risk for me anyway. So, I went with a close 3rd.
@clynncok: Your Amazon reviews border on idolatry, so why hadn't I ever heard of you before? (not rude, just curious)
@ChuckWendig: I don't understand the question. I do get negative reviews, and as I'm not a bestseller I assume most don't know me.
@clynncok: But as I've recently discovered, they should know you.
Would you say writing for you is a craft or a gift?
@ChuckWendig: Writing is a craft. Storytelling is an art. Both are practiced, trained, the products of effort and not of grace or fate.
@karinacooper: Keeping an eye on @ChuckWendig’s #twitterview. Have some questions for the man? There’s your hashtag. Ask, and ye shall be answered.
@ChuckWendig: Another half hour left in this #twitterview -- feel free to ask me questions using the hashtag (focusing today on #YAlit).
@clynncok: You said earlier that writing UNDER THE EMPYREAN SKY was a risk. Why was it a risk?
@ChuckWendig: EMPYREAN SKY was risky as falls outside my author "brand" (burns me just to type that); YA isn't my space; new thing for me.
@fredhicks: So was Dino for that matter but I’m all the more excited about you as a author with breadth as well as depth.
@ChuckWendig: DINO NOW was equally challenging, yeah -- in some ways moreso than EMPYREAN SKY was.
@Elliesoderstrom: why? Because it already had a set world/characters? #twitterview. (that's my favorite work of yours, so free and fun!)
@ChuckWendig: That said, I think storytelling in general is a risk in terms of both career and emotional investment.
If you're not willing to take interesting risks & blind leaps as a writer, you maybe shouldn't be a writer in the first place.
@karinacooper: When @ChuckWendig talks about “author brand”, he notes it “burns [him] just to type that”. Take heed. (It buuuurns, precious.)
@ChuckWendig: The author brand is like the brand they use on cattle. A needless mark of ownership. Think more to voice & style.
@SamSykesSwears: Many YAs are dark with an optimistic undertone; darkness makes protagonist shine. Can it be done without the tone?
@ChuckWendig: You mean #YALit without the optimistic tone? HUNGER GAMES has a pretty bleak ending.
@SamSykesSwears: Good point. I thought it had a pretty positive undertone throughout, though.
@ChuckWendig: It does! And it *kinda* weathers the storm. But most fiction retains some small optimism, #YA or no.
@cvilbrandt: What are themes in #YAlit (or any lit) that you want to explore more?
@ChuckWendig: I tend to explore similar themes across all my work: issues of family, bullying, disparity between people
@Gwenda: Along those lines, did you find anything about writing Empyrean Sky different than your other books, or no?
@ChuckWendig: EMPYREAN SKY was very worldbuildy for me. And teen protagonist was new for me, too. Sci-fi elements new, too...hmm.
So, actually, the book represented lots of new challenges for me! Huh.
@clynncok: About UNDER THE EMPYREAN SKY, in it corn is both king and conqueror. You got some sort of beef with corn?
@ChuckWendig: Corn and the technology surrounding corn is both a) really awesome and b) really scary. Felt like unexplored territory!
@Stephen_GM: On risks: What other genres, media, etc that you don't have experience or a profile in would you like to explore?
@ChuckWendig: I am slowly trying to hip-check and elbow-nudge my way into comics. *nudge bump nudge bump*
@Elliesoderstrom: what genre of comics? Supers? In what universe? Or, an original work?
@ChuckWendig: I yearn to work in all genres of comics. I have something coming up with @VSComics very soon…
@BrightEyedDyer: What is your editing process once a 1st draft is complete? And, who reads your work when (spouse, editor, ?)?
@ChuckWendig: Ideally a first draft sits a while, but when that's not possible, it goes right to my brilliant agent.
@Elliesoderstrom: loved your theme. Crops.it’s ancient—so many social issues around it—like colonists exploiting Indians for it.
@ChuckWendig: Food politics and farm life and the complexities of food versus food science totally fascinate me.
@Elliesoderstrom: did you grow up on the farm or agricultural setting?
@ChuckWendig: I did grow up on a farm, actually. Crops/livestock early in my life, but later we just raised whitetail deer.
@Elliesoderstrom: SO YOU GOT TO PET FAWNS?!? No wonder! That’s where you got mystical powers.
@clynncok: Of all the products made from corn, what do you consider the strangest? Other than corn niblets.
@ChuckWendig: Actually, here's an interesting list of some of the things made from corn -- http://www.agricorner.com/op-ten-things-you-didn%E2%80%99t-know-are-made-from-corn/
@clynncok: So you've really done your research. Impressive.
@janetharriett: They missed sunblock and iodized salt.
@ChuckWendig: Iodized salt is made from corn?!
Actually for an adult-level look at the GMO thing, worth checking out @JonMcGoran's DRIFT -- out now.
@clynncok: Another social issue--the ultimate villain in the novel is a woman. Is this your contribution to feminism?
@ChuckWendig: "…the ultimate villain in the novel is a woman. Is this your contribution to feminism?" Uhh, whoa, no.
I don't think a female villain has anything to say about feminism. The book also has female characters who aren't villains, so?
My goal is to write strong characters and to sometimes make those characters women. Protagonists or villains or whatever.
@faitherinhicks: actually, I LOVE a powerful, badass female villain & find them quite feminist if they're done well! :D LOVE them.
@ChuckWendig: This female villain is actually the breadwinner (not her husband) so she's arguably feminist? Or something?
@clynncok: That was kinda a joke.
Didn't mean to create such ire.
@ChuckWendig: No ire -- though the question maybe carries some odd connotations?
Ah, if it was a joke, then all good. Twitter doesn't carry tone oh so well.
@faitherinhicks: I had a young girl tell me she wanted to see more female villains, because villains are powerful & drive the story.
@clynncok: Thanks for being open to the idea of the #twitterview. It's been fun.
@karinacooper: Thanks for chatting #YAlit and UNDER THE EMPYREAN SKY, @ChuckWendig!
@ChuckWendig: And I think the #twitterview is now complete. Thanks to @clynnok for the fun experiment! *ejects you all into the dark of space*
I want you all to know that during that #twitterview I cleaned a diaper that positively apocalyptic. … no, not mine, shush.
@clynncok: Thanks, @ChuckWendig!