the Little Red Reviewer

Interview with Will McIntosh, Author of Love Minus Eighty

Posted on: June 25, 2013

Last week I reviewed Love Minus Eighty, the new speculative fiction novel from Will McIntosh.  I might be new to his fiction, but McIntosh has already taken the speculative fiction world by storm, having won a Hugo for his 2010 short story Bridesicle, and his novel Soft Apocalypse (2012) is a multiple award nominee.  He’s been publishing short fiction and winning awards since the early 2000s, so I was over the moon thrilled when Mr. McIntosh agreed to answer a few questions about the new novel, movies, day jobs, and what’s next.

Hi Will, thanks for joining us today!

Thanks, glad to be here!

Love Minus Eighty is an expansion of sorts of your short story Bridesicle. What was the inspiration for Bridesicle?

Bridesicle started as a brief image that flashed as I was waking up one morning.  It was Mira, frozen in her crèche, and as these things usually go, for some reason I knew this was a dating center.  The story grew from there.  At first I wrote it from the point of view of Lycan, a clueless man visiting the center for the first time, but after getting feedback I ended up shifting the point of view to Mira.

Bridesicle has parallels to the world of Hitchers, but in Love Minus Eighty, we’re in a world with plenty of followers, but no actual, traditional hitchers. Why the change?

I wrote a post for the Far Beyond Reality blog that explains this in more detail, but in a nutshell, I decided giving people the ability to upload their consciousness into someone else lowered the stakes, because it allows people to become basically immortal.  It also makes for a really complicated story, if some of the characters are actually two, or five, or ten characters sharing one body.  Sometimes a technology that seems cool in a short story introduces all sorts of complications when you’re telling a longer story.

I read somewhere that Bridesicle was optioned for a film. How exciting! What was your reaction to that? Any thoughts on changes you’d like to see, or fear to see when Bridesicle or Love Minus Eighty makes it to the big screen?

I was over the moon when I heard Bridesicle had been optioned!  As these things often go, the option expired last month, and Film4 chose not to renew it, so the rights have reverted back to me.  (A few weeks later, Warner Brothers optioned my next novel, Defenders, so, ups and downs).  If Love Minus Eighty became a film, it would have to simplified, like most novels adapted for film.  It would probably work best if it focused on one story line, probably Rob and Winter, with the other characters playing more supportive roles.  I think the sort of Producer/Director who would be drawn to the story would want to maintain the basic creepy feel of the Bridesicles’ plight (Film4 definitely did), and that would be my primary concern.  Often novels are changed dramatically when adapted for film, but the best adaptations retain the core element that made the novel work.

Complete this sentence: if you like _____, ______ or _____, you’ll love Love Minus Eighty.

I’ve been mulling this one for about three days now.  It’s a great question, but heck, it’s hard to answer!  I loved the description Io9’s Annalee Newitz provided: “Imagine a Jane Austen novel set in one of Philip K. Dick’s media-saturated worlds…”  So, if you love Jane Austen novels set in Philip K. Dick media-saturated worlds, you’ll love Love Minus Eighty!  For some reason, the movie Gattaca also springs to mind…

The characterization in Love Minus Eighty is incredible, Veronika especially. Equally, I loved the underlying ideas and social commentaries that hide just beneath the plot. Which came first? the ideas behind the story, or the characters?

Thanks!  I was just reading a comment thread from a review on line, and all three of the people commenting agreed Veronika was their favorite character.  Typically I have no idea which characters will resonate most with readers until they tell me.

The ideas behind the story came first.  For me, they almost always do.  I come up with a rough story line, then think about what sort of characters would be interesting within that story line.

You recently left your long-term teaching job to write full time. What’s been the most surprising thing about the transition? do you miss teaching?

I still teach one class per semester, as an adjunct at William and Mary.  That’s just enough teaching for me – I don’t miss teaching more than that. Although I can fake being outgoing, I’m an introvert, so teaching requires quite a lot of energy from me.  Writing, on the other hand, energizes me.  I walk away from eight hours of writing feeling recharged.

Any booktour plans, Convention plans, or local bookstore signings coming up? Where can fans meet you?

I’m dying to get back to some conventions.  For the past few years, our very young twins have made traveling tough.  We’re planning to do more traveling beginning next year.  We’ll choose a convention in a city where there are also vacationy things for us to do as a family.  Right now the only certainty is that I’ll be at our local Williamsburg con, Marscon, in 2014.  The rest is up in the air right now. I recently did a signing at the William and Mary bookstore, and I’ll likely be doing one in Richmond, but the details aren’t worked out yet.

Writing wise, what’s next for you?

Defenders comes out next year.   I finished it awhile back.  Now I’m working on an SF novel called Faller, about a man who falls off the edge of his world and discovers another below it.

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7 Responses to "Interview with Will McIntosh, Author of Love Minus Eighty"

Wonderful interview, thanks Andrea for bringing it to us and thank you Will McIntosh for granting the interview. I am one of the ones who rushed out day one to buy Love Minus Eighty (only to find that my local BN couldn’t find them in the back room) and so I immediately downloaded it to the Kindle and dove in. Wow! Couldn’t put it down and my wife was so intrigued by the idea that even though she reads very little science fiction she quickly devoured it and loved it as well.

I think you did a brilliant job of capturing the reality of contemporary relationships in this “turned on” world that we live in and that the very interesting future tech that you imagined is exciting but also very accessible because of our social media driven present.

Great characters, and Veronicka was my favorite too.

Wish you all the best in your future work and want to thank you for such a splendid novel.

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you’re very welcome. I feel bad for bookstores and libraries – where do they shelve this one? Contemporary fiction? scifi? I hope the regular old fiction section, so more people see it.

Ya, people have been asking me lately what “style” reviews I do. After reading what i’ve written in the last year or so, now i can tell them my reviews are informal emotional reactions. We all read for different reasons, escapeism, education, learning how to write, etc, i think I do it because I like a safe place I can have a strong emotional reaction.

Wish you all the best? why does that sound like a goodbye?

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You going somewhere? :)

I’d like to see bookstores shelve books like this both in fiction and SFF aisles. Not sure why they always seem hell-bent on only putting a book in one place. The libraries around here have all fiction separated only by ‘adult’ vs ‘teen’ vs ‘juvenile’ and don’t do any separation by genre.

I like some clinical book reviews, but at the end of the day I would rather read about someone’s emotional reaction to a book.

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Great interview. Really intrigued by this book. Love the question ‘if you like _____, ______ or _____, you’ll love Love Minus Eighty’ – it’s a tough one that, in fact a minefield no wonder it took a bit of thought not to mention an intriguing answer.
Lynn :D

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that question is now a permanent fixture in my author interviews. But I didn’t mean for it to be a minefield or a stumper! and yeah, that was an awesome answer!

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It’s a good question – definitely a keeper!
Lynn :D

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Oh My goodness I’m so excited to hear about the next two books. I’m sad that the option wasn’t renewed or picked up by another studio but then you know I would be so angry if they butchered what is now one of my favorite books. Awesome Interview!

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