Andy Weir Talks Live in Palo Alto!

It’s not often that you get the opportunity to see your favorite author and/or artist in person.  But the San Francisco Bay Area is an exception.  There are so many activities, artists visiting and events going on!  So, when I saw the Commonwealth Club was going to hold a live event with Andy Weir I signed up immediately.  If you’re not familiar, Andy Weir is the author of the best-selling book The MartianThe book was later on turned into an Oscar-nominated blockbuster movie starring Matt Damon.

On the day of the talk I had excitedly arrived at the venue early.  Good thing too because, even if the venue was just a few minutes away form where I live, I still got lost!  Anyway, I had bought my ticket a couple weeks back.  I mean, Andy Weir was going to give a talk just a few minutes drive from my place, I couldn’t, wouldn’t let that opportunity slip by.  So yes, to say I was excited was an understatement.  I was ecstatic! I even got the “Premium” ticket which included a soft cover book of Andy Weir’s new book Artemis.

When I got to the venue I was ushered in to my seat.  Getting the premium ticket had it’s perks: I was allowed to sit within the first two rows of the stage!  Great.  Awesome photo opportunity.  I sat as close as I could and waited.  A few minutes later, after some introduction from our graceful hosts at the Commonwealth Club, Andy Weir walks onto the stage with applause from the crowd.

How was his talk?  It was delightful 🙂  He spoke about his on thoughts regarding  the current limitations and hurdles of the space industry, which he believes is primarily due to policy, or the lack of it.  He also proposed that the way forward to space is via economics.  At this time we’re still waiting for the economics to make sense, e.g., once a middle class person can afford to go to space.

He also talked about his new book Artemis.  Artemis is a Sci-fi heist thriller set on the Moon.  Without giving too much away, Andy Weir talked about the different plot points, characters, inspiration and motivations behind these.  For example, he explained why beer on the Moon, in Artemis, sucks and how extremely bad the staple moon food tastes like.  Just google Chlorella Algae.. And yes, you can eat it!  Andy Weir himself swears that it’s terrible.  In fact, he used some very strong words, which I am NOT going to share here.  To me, it sort of provided a Too Much Information (TMI) moment.  Kidding aside, I have to say though, the talk was fun!  To me Andy Weir seems like that very smart, and witty, friend you always make sure to have around during your dinner parties.  He was a blast.

Earlier that evening one of the staff was giving out cards to allow the audience to write down their questions and allow the interviewer to ask during the talk.  I of course was one of the first people to submit my question in, and a good thing too, because my question got asked!  I asked, without giving too much away, what Andy’s favorite Extravehicular activity (EVA) scene was from his new book Artemis.  SPOILERS for ARTEMIS.  Skip this if you don’t want to get spoilers.  His favorite EVA scene, he said, was the one which involved the main sabotage portion of the plot.  I was happy to hear that because that was my favorite one too 🙂

One thing I also really appreciated from his talk was his feedback to budding writers.  Andy Weir’s advice to anyone who’s starting to write is to:

  1. Just WRITE already.  If you don’t write you’ll never know what’s bad or good about your work.  Stop day dreaming and start writing!
  2. Resist telling people your story.  Andy said if you’re like him, you’re secretly writing because you want to share your story with an audience.  If you tell people your story before you write or complete it, sharing it achieves the purpose of sharing your story.  So if you keep it to yourself, it could push you to complete it instead.
  3. This is the best time to self publish.  It used to be you needed to really know a publisher prior to getting your stuff out there for audiences read.  If your stuff is good it will get around.  Take advantage of the times now and strongly consider self publishing.

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We also learned a few things about Andy Weir himself outside of writing.  He enjoys wood working, mixing drinks, mixology and playing board games.  If you’re from the Bay Area, his drink of choice for the Bay Area attendees, at the time of this writing, is an good Old Fashioned Rum.

Hope you enjoyed that as much as I did, until the next post!

– Skkaw

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