Special Feature: Interview with Author Rob Ziegler
Rob Ziegler is an author with his first book out. He's local to us Coloradans and, I can personally attest, a crack writer and a darn nice guy.
You just had your first novel come out from Nightshade Books, SEED. Tell us about the book.
I don't think I can do better than Alan Prendergast's description in the Westword blog: "In SEED, the American dust bowl is back. Satori, a mysterious corporation with its own evolving consciousness inhabiting a giant dome in the ruins of Denver, doles out drought-hearty seed to ragtag migrants trying to eke a living out of the parched wasteland. Messianic 'prairie saints,' beleaguered military commanders and genetically engineered caretakers of Satori all battle over a center that won't hold, while two wandering, scavenging brothers may hold the key to a better future." But you know, with heart.
Any hopes for a sequel?
The story in SEED feels complete to me. I have ideas for other stories in that world, so a spinoff with some loose character overlap isn't out of the question. But a sequel...probably not.
What made you chose futuristic ecopunk? Besides it being a rich mine of conflict and theme, do you have a personal interest in ecology that informs your writing? (In other words, if you want to get out your soap box, hop on up there.)
Okay, I'll jump on my soapbox. In part, I wanted to write an indictment of our failure to act in our own self interest. We have big problems on our collective plate that we keep failing to address-that we seem unable to even to talk about in any kind of reasonable way. Climate change, an exploding population, the depletion of nutrients from our topsoils, an increasing lack genetic diversity in our primary crops, the fact that oil-the primary resource upon which our way of life depends-is finite....We are failing. I wanted to write about a world defined by that failure.
I also wanted it to be a balls-out adventure story, full of heart and black humor and...fun. Hopefully I succeeded.
Some of our readers are unpublished writers, too, so here's the obligatory question about the road to publication. How long have you been writing, how long did it take you to write SEED, and how long to find a publisher? Tell us about your journey.
I've been writing since I was sixteen. I've taken writing seriously since I was about twenty. Which means it's been long enough that I'm too embarrassed to do the math. It took me about two years to write SEED. It wasn't my first book, though. I wrote two other novels before this-instead of abject failures, let's call them practice novels-and more short stories than I can count.
As far as selling SEED, I first researched agents. I only submitted it to the one I liked the most, which is exactly what you shouldn't do. You should submit to a whole bunch. Fortunately she liked it enough to take it on. She submitted it to publishers, one of whom was Night Shade, and they bought it. I guess it took about two or three months from when my agent submitted the book until we had an offer.
Who are you reading at the moment? What appeals most in fiction?
Well now, that's two questions. My reading is all over the map. Right now I'm in the middle of The Big Short by Michael Lewis and Murder City by Charles Bowden. I'm rereading Storms of My Grandchildren by James Hansen, just started Margaret Atwood's Year of the Flood, and I'm taking small doses from a couple of books about the social affects of violent media. Can't remember those titles. I skip around a lot.
To me what appeals most in fiction is good characters. If an author hooks me with a character, to the point where I really care about that character, I'll believe almost anything about that character's world. Story and everything else come, I think, from layers of character.
Thanks so much for our quick chat and good luck with SEED! You can find Rob on the web at: