Andy Weir

Andy Weir

Author of The Martian

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON August 26, 2015

Discussion

Andy Weir
Andy Weir@andyweirauthor · Writer
Hi, Andy here. I was first hired as a programmer for a national laboratory at age 15 and have been working as a software engineer ever since. I am also a lifelong space nerd and a devoted hobbyist of subjects like relativistic physics, orbital mechanics, and the history of manned spaceflight. The Martian is my first novel. EDIT - Okay folks. I'm out. Thanks for the questions. If you missed the event and have a burning question, feel free to email me at sephalon@gmail.com. I answer all fan mail (though sometimes it takes me a while to get to all of it)
Russ Frushtick
Russ Frushtick@russfrushtick
@andyweirauthor To date, who is the most interesting fan of The Martian that you’ve been in touch with?
Andy Weir
Andy Weir@andyweirauthor · Writer
@russfrushtick Tom Hanks sent me a personal note by mail. That was pretty cool. :)
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
I'm excited for the film based on your book, The Martian. Epic trailer:
How involved are you in the production of the movie?
Andy Weir
Andy Weir@andyweirauthor · Writer
@rrhoover See my answer to Aric Boyles for info about what I did for the film
Niv Dror
Niv Dror@nivo0o0 · VC at Shrug Capital
@andyweirauthor Not a question... But just wanted to say The Martian was the best book I ever read.
Andy Weir
Andy Weir@andyweirauthor · Writer
@nivo0o0 Well thanks!
Danny Short
Danny Short@dannyshort · Campaign Designer
@andyweirauthor How much research did you do for the novel did you talk to anyone at NASA?
Andy Weir
Andy Weir@andyweirauthor · Writer
@dannyshortThe research effort ended up being tons and tons of Google searches and a bunch of math. I didn’t know anyone in aerospace at the time I wrote the novel, so I was on my own. But I like researching, it’s fun for me. So it wasn’t a problem. I spent about three years writing the book and I'd say half of that time was spent researching
Aric Boyles
Aric Boyles@centralparker
@andyweirauthor are you involved with the upcoming Martian movie? Are you pleased with the way your book was interpreted for the movie?
Andy Weir
Andy Weir@andyweirauthor · Writer
@centralparker Mostly my job was just to cash the check. Though they did send me the screenplay to get my opinion. They are not required to listen to anything I have to say. They keep me updated on the production because they’re cool.
Patrick Traughber
Patrick Traughber@ptraughber · Product Manager at Twitter
@andyweirauthor what tools (note takers, word processors, etc.) did you use to write The Martian?
Andy Weir
Andy Weir@andyweirauthor · Writer
@ptraughber I wrote it in OpenOffice Writer. However, once I got a print deal, the editing process pretty much required me to us MS Word, so now I use that. You need collaborative editing features in publishing and Word is hands-down the best at it.
Katherine Young
Katherine Young@kyoung415
@andyweirauthor What are your thoughts on the Mars One mission? Will we be able to support Martian colonist by 2030?
Andy Weir
Andy Weir@andyweirauthor · Writer
@kyoung415 I don't take Mars One seriously at all. They have something like $400,000 in funding. That's not enough money to colonize Nebraska, let alone Mars. They think they can make tens of billions of dollars of revenue from a reality show. But that's about 100x as much money as any TV show has ever made, ever. I do think they serve a good purpose as a think-tank, though. I don't think we'll *colonize* Mars any time this century. But a manned mission is certainly possible within our lifetimes. I'm guessing around 2050.
Duane Morin
Duane Morin@shakespearegeek
@andyweirauthor My son, who is 9, saw the movie poster and would like to go see it but I'm pretty sure it's going to end up rated R for language, isn't it? What are your thoughts on the importance of keeping the book's colorful language, versus limiting the younger audience?
Andy Weir
Andy Weir@andyweirauthor · Writer
@shakespearegeek It's going to be PG. they toned down the language from the book quite a lot.
Duane Morin
Duane Morin@shakespearegeek
@andyweirauthor Really? Woohoo! He'll be so excited. When even the trailer's got cursing in it, I think everybody assumed it was going to have the same kind of language the book has.
Chandler VDW
Chandler VDW@chandlervdw · Designer / Front-end Developer
@andyweirauthor how long did you have the idea for The Martian and how long did you plan on writing it as a novel?
Andy Weir
Andy Weir@andyweirauthor · Writer
@chandlervdw I came up with the idea around 2002, but didn't start working on it until 2009. I finished in 2012.
Aric Boyles
Aric Boyles@centralparker
@andyweirauthor is Watney's Macgyver-like ingenuity and always-look-at-the-bright-side personality based on someone you know? Or possibly yourself? Or did you completely invent him?
Andy Weir
Andy Weir@andyweirauthor · Writer
@centralparker Mark is based on my own personality. Though he’s smarter and braver than I am and he doesn’t have my flaws. I guess he’s what I wish I were like.
@andyweirauthor In addition to the hard science elements of the story (which I very much enjoyed thanks to your breaking it down so well), there are quite a few comments/insights into sociology and psychology. What research or personal experiences did you pull from to write about the life/death realities Watney faces alone? His decision to endure? I have to admit there were quite a few times that I wondered how can he even comprehend getting up and going on? Also, are you pleased with Matt Damon's performance (at least in the previews)?
Andy Weir
Andy Weir@andyweirauthor · Writer
@bamaladyk I wanted the story to focus on the problems and solutions. I didn’t want it to be a dark and depressing tale of a man’s struggle with crippling loneliness and constant stress. That’s just not the story I wanted to tell. So I decided Mark is made of sterner stuff than most people. After all, he was chosen to be on a manned Mars mission, so he’s not just some guy off the street. He beat tens of thousands of other people for that position. I've seen the film and I'm THRILLED with Matt's performance. He absolutely nailed the character. He's exactly how I imagined Watney.
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
What's the biggest critique of your work that you are most sympathetic to?
Andy Weir
Andy Weir@andyweirauthor · Writer
@eriktorenberg There's very little character depth and there's no personal growth. It's a very plot-driven story. Those are the stories I like to read so those are the stories I write. I didn't delve into Mark's deeper feelings and he doesn't change his personality or outlook at all throughout the story. I acknowledge that as a reasonable complaint. Though I knew that's what I was doing when I wrote the book and I did it on purpose. :)
Andy Weir
Andy Weir@andyweirauthor · Writer
All right folks, that's it for me. Thanks for the questions. If you missed the event and have a burning question, feel free to email me at sephalon@gmail.com. I answer all fan mail (though sometimes it takes me a while to get to all of it)
Lejla Bajgoric
Lejla Bajgoric@lejlahunts · Intern, Product Hunt
@andyweirauthor What’s your next project?
Andy Weir
Andy Weir@andyweirauthor · Writer
@lejlahunts I'm working on my next book now. It's a more traditional sci-fi novel with aliens, faster-than-light travel, and telepaths, etc. It’s tentatively titled “Zhek” and it should be out in mid-2016
Matt D. Smith
Matt D. Smith@mds · Design Director, Studio Mds
Hey Andy, loved The Martian. Did you ever consider letting Watney die on Mars? I'm glad he didn't, but still curious. =)
Andy Weir
Andy Weir@andyweirauthor · Writer
@mds No, I never considered killing him. It's a light-hearted novel.
Emily Veach
Emily Veach@editemily · writer @Feedly
@mds spoiler alertttttt! ;)
Matt D. Smith
Matt D. Smith@mds · Design Director, Studio Mds
@editemily haha, I thought about that as I was posting.
Jiake Liu
Jiake Liu@jiakeliu · Co-Founder & CEO, ProspectWise
@andyweirauthor Is there a correlation between your interest in science fiction and computer science? Where did your interest in science come from?
Andy Weir
Andy Weir@andyweirauthor · Writer
@jiakeliu Mostly from my dad, I think. He's a physicist and a very scientifically-minded guy.
Cody Hatfield
Cody Hatfield@codynhat · Lead Engineer, Fourth Wall, Inc.
Hey Andy, I am currently reading The Martian and love it! The amount of technical detail is very impressive and is part of the reason it makes the book so interesting to me, being an engineer myself. How much research did you have to do and how much did you already know before starting this book? And did you have to make anything up or is everything mostly accurate?
Andy Weir
Andy Weir@andyweirauthor · Writer
@codynhat See my answer to Danny Short for info about my research process. Almost everything in the book is accurate to real science. One notable exception is the sandstorm at the beginning. In reality, a Martian storm doesn't have enough inertia to damage anything.
Mark Marchenko
Mark Marchenko@marchenkomark · Writer & Tech Geek
@andyweirauthor Andy, honoured to meet you here. For all aspiring writers: could you tell us about your daily writing routine, do you have any habits or instruments that help you write on a regularly basis?
Andy Weir
Andy Weir@andyweirauthor · Writer
@marchenkomark No set routine. I tend to write in the evenings. I have to be alone in the house and I can't have music playing. Other than that, it's just work.
Brendan O'Neil
Brendan O'Neil@brendan_o · Professional emailer at Robin
@andyweirauthor huge fan of the book and especially loved the audiobook version. Do you listen to audiobooks? And if so do you have any specific favorites?
Andy Weir
Andy Weir@andyweirauthor · Writer
@brendan_o I don't listen to audiobooks very often. Though I did listen to the audiobook of "Ready Player One" read by Wil Wheaton. That was awesome. And I also have to give a shout out to R.C.Bray who did the reading of "The Martian". He did an AMAZING job and he won an award for it.
Brendan O'Neil
Brendan O'Neil@brendan_o · Professional emailer at Robin
@andyweirauthor thanks for the response! RP1 was great and I love anything Wil narrates. Did you have a chance to read the John Scalzi post (http://whatever.scalzi.com/2015/...)? Specifically I found it interesting how he says audiobooks have changed how he is writing new content.