I met Hugh Howey at Chicon7 in Chicago in 2012 and again in at Lonestarcon3 in San Antonio this year. Being that I was on the fence between traditional publishing and self-publishing, I was intrigued by his story. He had already published the Molly Fyde series with some success, but found an audience with a short story called Wool. When that story caught reader interest, he expanded the story into a full length novel by the same name and then other stories in the same universe. What began as a self-published story has now been picked up in print form by a major publisher, though Hugh retains the ebook rights. You can catch him at http://www.hughhowey.com/. He agreed to answer a few questions for our audience:
What was the source of the silo idea?
I’m sure it had multiple sources, but the main genesis of the world of Wool came from 24-hour news. I wondered what it does to us to have our view of the world filtered through such a negative lens. Does that impact our degree of optimism and hope? Are those who want to fight for a better world heroes? Or are they dangerous?
What research did you do for the Wool series?
The research came from my life experiences and all my reading, especially non-fiction. I drew from my time as a yacht captain, an engineer, a world traveler, a roofer, an electrician, and a student of history. As in the life I have lived, I probably got more wrong than I got right.
What similar stories do you have planned?
Most of the stories I have planned are vastly different. I want to write across all the genres. I want the process to remain fresh and exciting. I do have another post-apocalyptic series planned, but it takes place in a very distant future and leans a little more toward fantasy.
What is unique about your Molly Fyde stories that make them stand out for you?
I like to think of that series as Pixar in book form. There’s an adventure story for all ages on the surface, but astute readers will catch all the deeper meanings sprinkled throughout. I credit Swift’s GULLIVER’S TRAVELS for inspiring me to view storytelling in this way.
How do you feel about other authors writing in your silo world?
I’m flattered by it. I think it’s wild that I’ve written about a world and others want to join in. I see fan fiction as a form of literary jazz. Someone hears a new beat they like, and they want to riff off of it. They want to jump on stage and join in or perform their own rendition. I completely support this. My hope is that these writers will delight my readership and draw them over to their own works, introduce them to more great stories. I know writers who are making a decent wage from their fan fiction, and as someone who knows how difficult it is to get paid for your art, nothing makes me happier.
Thanks, Hugh, for your thoughts.