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
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.
@andyweirauthor What inspired your early interest in science and technology and how do you think the role of science fiction (such as The Martian) and the mediums (especially interactive platforms such as video games) that it is created through will evolve in inspiring future scientists and technologists?
Andy Weir
Andy Weir@andyweirauthor · Writer
@jjxwang My dad was a physicist and so I grew up in a science-minded household. I don't have any grandiose ideals about Sci-Fi and it's place in society. I just want entertainment to entertain. So my only goal in writing is for the reader to enjoy the book.
@andyweirauthor And entertain you have! Thanks for the answer.
Anton Sekatskii
Anton Sekatskii@deleted-84932 · Seeking worldly wisdom...
The Martian is awesome, thank you very much - the book helps me with learning English :) What do you think, why the Moon has suddenly become "boring" and people has started aiming to Mars?
Andy Weir
Andy Weir@andyweirauthor · Writer
@antonsekatski I think it's because we've been to the Moon. But no one has ever been to Mars.
Phil Graham
Phil Graham@roadstead
@andyweirauthor You mention Excel below, did you write your orbit calculation code in VBA? Or do you use something like Python?
Andy Weir
Andy Weir@andyweirauthor · Writer
@roadstead I used C++. I'm a computer programmer by trade so I wasn't messing around. :)
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
Who are your favorite authors?
Andy Weir
Andy Weir@andyweirauthor · Writer
@eriktorenberg Heinlein, Asimov, and Clarke are my "holy trinity". I also loved Pratchett - Discworld is the only fantasy series I really enjoyed.
Mark Marchenko
Mark Marchenko@marchenkomark · Writer & Tech Geek
@andyweirauthor what's your opinion on 'inspiration'? Is it something you can have or should wait for? Do you feel you need it in order to write?
Andy Weir
Andy Weir@andyweirauthor · Writer
@marchenkomark If you wait for inspiration you'll never get anything done. Most of the time it's a slog. But here's the thing: Sometimes you're inspired and crank out words and other times you have to fight for every sentence. If you look back at that writing a week later, you can't tell the difference between when you were inspired and when you weren't. Point is: Your quality of writing isn't actually affected by your level of inspiration. Sometimes you have to just gut it out, but you still create quality work. So just press through.
Mark Marchenko
Mark Marchenko@marchenkomark · Writer & Tech Geek
@andyweirauthor great insight, thank you!
Alexander Taub
Alexander Taub@ajt · Co-founder, SocialRank
Idea for Product Hunt. This is my first Product Hunt Live. would be neat to take the entire right side (when on web browser) and have the thing the public figure has (in this case Book + Tickets to see movie) and let us buy right here. I would totally buy opening night tickets to The Martian (or at least get notified when tickets become available to buy) right now if I could click a link on the right side. Just an idea.
Carlos Bruscoli
Carlos Bruscoli@gugote · Hashboxed
@ajt and of course made those elements 'position: sticky' :D
Ryan Hoover
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
@ajt :) we actually added a "Made by _____" section on the right sidebar but it's currently limited to things that are already on Product Hunt. Love your idea of adding more here -- like tickets to an artist's upcoming concert.
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
@andyweirauthor What’s your favorite app? Internet story?
Andy Weir
Andy Weir@andyweirauthor · Writer
@bentossell Excel. I know it's boring, but I spend a lot of time using it for math and research and it's awesome.
Jeff Umbro
Jeff Umbro@jeffumbro · CEO of The podglomerate
Trump or Bernie and why?
Andy Weir
Andy Weir@andyweirauthor · Writer
@jeffumbro Sorry, but I don't answer political questions. :)
Jacqueline von Tesmar
Jacqueline von Tesmar@jacqvon · Community at Product Hunt ⚡️
Can you tell us a bit about your story 'The Egg' and where that fit into your career?
Andy Weir
Andy Weir@andyweirauthor · Writer
@jacqvon I wrote "The Egg" in about 40 minutes one night, posted it to my website, and figured that would be that. It ended up getting around the internet in a big way, bringing literally millions of people to my website. A small percentage of those people signed up for my mailing list and ended up fans of The Martian. So I think The Egg was important in getting me that critical mass of readers.
Martin Bavio
Martin Bavio@mbavio · Full Stack Designer
@andyweirauthor Hey Andy, huge fan of the "something that should have killed me" special meal in here! How would you imagine the moment Watney put his feet out of Hermes and back to Earth for the first time?
Andy Weir
Andy Weir@andyweirauthor · Writer
@mbavio I actually didn't imagine it. The story ends where it ends. Anything beyond that is up to the reader to decide for themselves. :)
Fred Rivett
Fred Rivett@fredrivett · Co-founder @ The Dot
Hey Andy. My brother bought me the book as a present, as someone who rarely reads fiction I really enjoyed it! Q: What's the biggest effect the success of the book has had on your life?
Andy Weir
Andy Weir@andyweirauthor · Writer
@fredrivett I get to meet lots of famous people! Also I made a lot of money. It's pretty cool. I highly recommend it. :)
Fred Rivett
Fred Rivett@fredrivett · Co-founder @ The Dot
@andyweirauthor Nice one, thanks Andy :)
Rohit Jain
Rohit Jain@namerohit
@andyweirauthor How did you come up with the vision for the novel ? Was there any Eureka moment when you decided that, "Yes, I am going to create this story"
Andy Weir
Andy Weir@andyweirauthor · Writer
@namerohit Not really. I had come up with the concept years earlier and finally started writing it one day for the hell of it. I had two other serials going on at my site at the same time.
Steven Rushing
Steven Rushing@steven_rushing · Co-Founder of Patent Monk
Hey @andyweirauthor could you elaborate on how you originally got an audience for your self published chapters etc. on your website? Were you blasting out chapters to Reddit, just emailing friends...? I heard you may have already recorded a podcast with @jaltucher describing some of this but would be interested to hear now if you have a chance.
Andy Weir
Andy Weir@andyweirauthor · Writer
@steven_rushing I didn't do anything to gather readers. I just slowly gained them over time through word-of-mouth. It took me ten years to get 3000 people on my mailing list.
Emily Veach
Emily Veach@editemily · writer @Feedly
@andyweirauthor If you could have only one food for the next 4 years, what would it be?
Andy Weir
Andy Weir@andyweirauthor · Writer
@editemily If you could only eat one thing for the next four years, you'd get sick of it no matter what it was. So I guess I'd just want something balanced and nutritional. It almost doesn't matter what. I'd be really sick of it within a week.
Nishanth
Nishanth@nthumma · Programmer
At what age did you knew you were going to write a book or become a writer?
Andy Weir
Andy Weir@andyweirauthor · Writer
@nthumma Well I always wanted to be a writer. And "The Martian" was actually my third book (the first two sucked).
Carlos Bruscoli
Carlos Bruscoli@gugote · Hashboxed
@andyweirauthor best book of the last 5 years easily. Thanks Andy!! PS: totally a fanboy reaction but i can't help it.
Andy Weir
Andy Weir@andyweirauthor · Writer
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
Would you like to be cryogenically preserved after death for the marginal possibly of being reinstated in the far future?
Andy Weir
Andy Weir@andyweirauthor · Writer
@eriktorenberg If there were some reasonable expectation of it working, sure. But with today's technology? No.
Scott Kyle
Scott Kyle@appden · Creator of Current for Mac
@andyweirauthor I just read The Martian while on vacation and absolutely loved it. One thing I was curious about was the effect that constant thrust acceleration would have on the crew of the Hermes. I imagined that even small G-forces could be disorienting and perhaps nausiating after awhile. Do you foresee this being an issue once we're able to actually achieve this kind inter-planetary travel?
Andy Weir
Andy Weir@andyweirauthor · Writer
@appden You're experiencing a constant acceleration right now. It's 9.8m/s^2 downward. Are you feeling sick?
Scott Kyle
Scott Kyle@appden · Creator of Current for Mac
@andyweirauthor I am a bit today, but hopefully that's unrelated. :) I had meant that the crew would experience two perpendicular forces in the hab (one at 0.4g from the centripetal motion and the other from the constant thrust). I thought that could be dizzying when experienced all the time, like constantly riding a slow fairground ride would be on Earth.
Alexander Taub
Alexander Taub@ajt · Co-founder, SocialRank
@andyweirauthor Freaking loved The Martian. Thank you for writing it. No question - just ready to read your next book :)
Andy Weir
Andy Weir@andyweirauthor · Writer
@ajt Thanks!
Carlos Bruscoli
Carlos Bruscoli@gugote · Hashboxed
@andyweirauthor which one was the most difficult part to write? the nerdy stuff or the emotional one ? you get stuck at some point or it was more like a step by step work, refining it in each version?
Andy Weir
Andy Weir@andyweirauthor · Writer
@gugote The hardest thing for me was all the characters at NASA. They tended to blend together to the reader, and I had to work really hard to differentiate them. I'm not sure I succeeded.
Sankesh
Sankesh@chewtiyapa
@andyweirauthor Hi Andy, I absolutely enjoyed reading your book. I'm a bit curious to know what happens to the crew, when they land on Earth. Are they court-martialed for disobeying NASA's orders?
Andy Weir
Andy Weir@andyweirauthor · Writer
@chewtiyapa I didn't define anything beyond the end of the book. That's where the story ends. The rest is up to your imagination. However, once the crew mutinied, NASA covered it up by claiming they decided to do the rescue plan. So they can't really court marshal Lewis and Martinez at this point without admitting there was a mutiny.
Rohit Jain
Rohit Jain@namerohit
Who were your earliest readers, other than your immediate family ?
Andy Weir
Andy Weir@andyweirauthor · Writer
@namerohit Random people online that I never met. I started out with a webcomic called "Casey and Andy". I built up readers slowly over time.
jamestodd
jamestodd@jamestodd · Serial encourager and delighter
@andyweirauthor Thanks for doing this!
Artur Kiulian
Artur Kiulian@arturkiulian · Partner at Colab
A weird question here, do you use shopping list apps? Why or why not? :)
Jiake Liu
Jiake Liu@jiakeliu · Co-Founder & CEO, ProspectWise
@andyweirauthor Did you start wearing your beret after you started writing? :D
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
HUGE thanks to @andyweir for taking the time to do this today :)