Q: In one sentence, tell us what your novel is all about.
A: It’s the story of an astronaut trying to survive after being accidentally left behind on Mars.
Q: What inspired you to write The Martian?
A: I was thinking up how best to do a manned Mars mission (because that’s the sort of dork I am). As the plan got more detailed, I started imagining what it would be like for the astronauts. Naturally, when designing a mission, you think up disaster scenarios and how likely the crew would be to survive. That’s when I started to realize this had real story potential.
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Q: Do you have anything in common with your wise-cracking hero Mark Watney?
A: I’m the same level of smart-ass as he is. It was a really easy book to write; I just had him say what I would say. However, he’s smarter than I am and considerably more brave. I guess he’s what I wish I was.
Q: You’re stranded on Mars and you can only take one book with you. What is it?
A: It’s always hard to pick one “favorite book”. Growing up, I loved early Heinlein books most of all. So if I had to pick one, I’d go with Tunnel in the Sky. I do love a good survival story.
Q: How long do you think you’d last if you were left in Mark Watney’s position?
A: Not long at all. I don’t know how to grow crops, nor how to jury-rig the solutions he came up with. It’s a lot easier to write about an ordeal than it is to experience it.
Q: Watney seems to be able to maneuver his way around some pretty major problems with a little duct tape and ingenuity! So he’s a bit like MacGyver in that way. Did you watch the show as a kid? Any favorite episodes?
A: Indeed I did! I loved that show. My favorite episode was the one where engineering students had a barricade contest.
Q: Star Wars or Star Trek?
A: Doctor Who.
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Are you a science fiction fan? Leave a comment with your favorite scifi book and/or movie!