If you don’t know who Scott Westerfeld is, you perhaps have something against reading the New York Times bestseller lists. He’s been all over the lists with his UGLIES series, including hitting the top spot. His latest, the fourth book in the series, is still on. So you can imagine how pleased I am to introduce to you my:
Interview with Scott Westerfeld
A novelist who is waiting for hoverboards to be invented.
2. Uglies is easily your most popular series to date. How do you think writing for YA is different than when you wrote for adults?
With adults, you can afford to meander for a while before starting the story. But teens are a little bit harder to trick, so you have to write in a more direct and disciplined way.
3. Why did you decide to add a fourth book to the Uglies Trilogy?
As I was touring around for Uglies, I started to notice that some kids would ask me questions like, “Do you live in a mansion.” In other words, they were trying to figure out how famous I was. It occurred to me that fame was very important to us in this society, almost as much as beauty (the two are related, of course) so it made sense to project the post-pretty culture into that whole world.
4. All the books in your Uglies Trilogy-in-four-parts have been New York Times bestsellers- but the fourth was your first to hit Number 1. How did getting to the top feel different than the first time you hit the list years before?
Well–and this is TERRIBLY petty–but it was Jenna Bush I was pushing out of the top spot. And she’d been on TV all weekend before her book came out, and was the presidents daughter, which was kind of cheating. So, yeah, it was fun to nudge her gently aside.
5. Was it ever difficult through the Uglies series for you to write in the voices of female protagonists, since you are a guy?
I get that question a lot, but it’s kind of funny–no one asks me how I can write like a teenager *three hundred years in the future*, but the gender divide seems to throw people. Like, is being female really more different than living in another era?
6. Some of your works have been optioned for films, and I’m sure all your fans are eager for any tidbits. What’s the latest news?
There hasn’t been a lot of movement on the Uglies movie front. In my imagination, what’s happening is this: Whenever the producers talk to the bigwigs about the story, they get asked, “Wait a minute. You want to make a movie about . . . ugly people?” And things go downhill from there.
But in reality I don’t know what’s going on. They never tell the writers anything. I’m waiting for someone who grew up with the books to get old enough to be a movie producer. Then we’ll see some action.
7. As a ghostwriter, have you ever run across books you’ve worked on in stores (and perhaps given a tiny snicker)?
Hmm . . not really.
8. You are a part of a writers’ group in New York that includes mega-authors like Holly Black, Maureen Johnson, Libba Bray, and more. Obviously, only real professionals can get in. What is a typical meeting like in such company?
Everyone sits around typing for an hour in silence, and then someone asks, “Um, what’s that thing that you push when you go up into an attic? Is that a hatch?” And everyone goes, “I think it’s just called an attic door, even if it looks like a hatch.” And whoever asked says, “Oh, yeah.” And then we go back to typing.
It’s really quite fascinating stuff.
9. On your blog (www.scottwesterfeld.com), you commonly get around 600 comments a post: one even had 2,250! Do you see blogging as a new medium for author publicity and ways for writers to connect with their readers?
It makes so much sense to me to interact with my readers, I can’t imagine not doing it. Maybe that goes back to my science fiction roots. In sf, fans and writers have been interacting at conventions for decades, so the internet isn’t such a big innovation. But it sure makes it easier.
10. Do you have any music you listen to that helps you write?
I can’t listen to music if I’m choosing it, because I’ll start thinking about what to play next. But when I write in coffee shops, it helps that other people are choosing the music. Besides, the people who work at coffee shops have better taste than me.
11. Like me, you loathe the deathly scourge of winter, but were born in probably the coldest city of Texas (it actually snowed in Dallas a day ago). What is the worst part of the cold for you?
I hate all the futzing with jackets and scares and gloves, and how there’s never enough room on the chairs at a restaurant to store everything.
12. And lastly, what projects are you working on right now that we can look forward to?
I’m doing another action adventure series, like Uglies, but set in 1914–a sort of weird 1914 with different technology and science. I can’t say too much yet, except that the coolest thing about it is that it’s going to be illustrated.