Excerpts from the interview:

‘‘I’ve really only been writing books for a couple of years, though I have had the blog for a long time. But I have been, for a goodly por­tion of my existence, a full-time writer. I always wanted to write, and I turned it into a full-time gig. Early on I did a lot of writing for pen-and-paper roleplaying games, for a company called White Wolf Game Studio, which is no longer around. They were looking for writers, and I played their games at the time. I thought, ‘If I’m going to continue acting the fool and playing games, I’d better make money doing it.’ I answered their call for writers and wrote a pretentious essay for them, about how monster hunting is an internal and external locus of fear. White Wolf was a totally pretentious company, so they bought it.

‘‘My career there succeeded because a lot of the other freelance writers were simply not professional. They either didn’t do the job, or turned in stuff late. You’re supposed to be at least two out of three: fast, friendly, or good. I was fast and friendly – I can’t promise I was good. They kept hiring me. The difference between writing fiction and writ­ing games is that when you’re writing fiction, you’re entirely in your own world, and creating your own story. When you’re writing games, your job is to facilitate someone else telling their story. You giving them bones and pieces and Lego bricks to build with, not a full story. It did take a mental leap to move from games to novels, because there’s a difference between me helping you tell your story in a roleplaying game, and telling my own story. It took me a long time to get into that head space.”

*

‘‘It has long been publisher wisdom that you need social media and websites. I think increas­ingly, from what I’ve discussed with publishers, it seems they’re figuring out how that actually works. There is unlikely to be a direct correla­tion between social media and book sales. If ev­ery one of my followers bought my books, I’d be doing very, very, very well. (Though I’m happy where I’m at.) An online presence doesn’t hurt. Social media will sell tens of books. I can throw pebbles and ping people, and maybe 50 or 100 copies will move. But if you want to move the kind of copies that will make a publisher happy, the publisher has to do something. They’re the ones who make the big difference when it comes to publicity. There are certainly staggered ef­fects – if you tweet about a book, or blog about it, or do bookstore events, that stuff all adds up. You do need to throw pebbles sometimes. But if you do those things poorly, it doesn’t help. If you don’t like doing public events, don’t do them! As a simple, practical component, if publishers want authors to do marketing, they should prob­ably pay them for that. Part of the reason a writer partners with a publisher is to have them care about the book on a level that the author cannot. If a book is great, you can work on the writing, and a publisher can do what a publisher does.”

*

‘‘We see the Internet as this glorious thing where we’re all connected. That sounds like such an amazing positive, and in a lot of ways it is. But the thesis of Zer0es is this: Imagine you have a tunnel in your house leading to your neighbor’s house. You like your neighbor, so that’s amaz­ing. You can just duck in and hang out with your neighbor. But then your neighbor has tunnels out of her house that lead to her neighbors, and there are tunnels from their houses, and so on. Everybody is connected to everybody’s house… which means that anybody, at any given time, can come into your home. That’s the Internet. We are not really well protected yet. We keep bringing new things online. Smart appliances. Bosch in Germany is trying to lead the way in getting dishwashers and refrigerators online. Your thermostat is now online. People can hack insulin pumps, pacemakers, and other medical equipment, as we get closer to cybernetic im­plants. That’s not even getting into the informa­tion we give up voluntarily: Here’s the dinner I ate, here’s who I’m dating right now, here’s where I’m physically located. All this stuff creates a massive data collection. Everything’s connected, which is amazing and also terrifying. Doing all the research for Zer0es made me more paranoid.”

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“We’re either moving toward evolution or the ruination of humanity. There’s an angel and a devil. Both of those are manifest in every single technical jump we make. Which one of these do we bet on? Are we going to destroy ourselves with technology, with a nuclear bomb? Or are we going to get nuclear energy? Even a knife can be used to feed my family, or to kill you and take your food. Even the simplest, tiniest technology has a massive polarizing effect on humanity.”

*

‘‘I’m writing the follow up to Zer0es, a novel called Invasive, that takes place in the same uni­verse. The protagonist is a futurist consulting for the FBI. Both books stand alone entirely. There’s one character that drifts over from Zer0es, but it’s an entirely different story. It’s not even about hacking this time. I’m writing comics now, too, and it’s very collaborative, but there’s no style guide. Screenplays are very calculated, every­thing is very designed, right down to the margins and the font size and type. It’s all one singular format. Comics have no format! It’s the Wild West of formats. I’ve seen scripts that are very detailed, and some that just tell the artist, ‘Make it look good.’ ”