I have loved your four previous Wool books, and am halfway through five. I can’t wait to see how it ends. I am having a very hard time predicting the ending as, based on your writing before book five, I can’t see your trajectory here and what rather shocking surprises will come up, as have come up in the previous Wool books.
In fact, I was so surprised by what you did, as an author, in the first two books, my jaw dropped and I had to tap it back up so I wouldn’t look ridiculous.
Please tell everyone about the plot line of Wool as, obviously, you can tell it so much better than I can. AND PLEASE, it’s driving me crazy. What year does this story take place in?
Wool is about a group of people who are born, grow old, and die while living in an underground silo. They’ve lived there so long that there are only legends of people having lived elsewhere. Their world turns upside down when the sheriff leaves in search of his wife. A woman named Juliette, who works as a mechanic in the depths of the silo, is chosen as the new sheriff. And she soon begins to uncover the secret behind why they live underground.
Give us the details of the silo that people live in, underground. I am fascinated by the size and depth, the rooms and hallways, the farms and labs…
The silo is incredibly deep. There are 144 floors, and each floor is 40 feet tall. It’s an entire city stacked on top of itself. This is an idea that’s been toyed with in the past, and some people have even begun to convert old missile silos into self-sufficient worlds like this.
What sparked the idea for the series?
Watching 24-hour news. I have traveled quite a bit, and I know the world isn’t as bad as it’s presented to be. I wondered what this does to our hope for the future. The heroes of my story are those who dare to hope, even in the face of dire news about their world.
Wool was my 8th published work. I self-publish because I’m more interested in telling stories than fighting to get them through a series of gates. We now have the tools and technology to publish our stories direct to the readers, both digitally and in print. I spend less time publishing my work than most people spend writing letters to agents and dealing with rejection. Once the book is out there, I start writing the next one. To me, it was never about massive sales or having a career doing this, it was just about doing something I love.
I have that same passion for writing that you do. I can’t imagine doing anything else.
You now have a traditional publishing house who allowed you to keep the rights to the ebook sales, is that correct? Is this the best of both worlds, publishing wise, a publishing house to distribute the paper books to the US and the world and e-books distributed by the author through Amazon?
We signed a deal that had never been done before, not by a major New York publisher. But I don’t know that I would do it again. I enjoyed creating my own print books as well, and bookstores were starting to carry them. It was a novel experience, but I prefer to publish on my own here in the US. I’m happy to partner with publishers overseas. Wool has been picked up in over 30 territories worldwide, and I’ve had a blast traveling and supporting those releases.
What do you see are the benefits/challenges of self publishing vs. traditional publishing? I find the whole question, and people’s experiences with both, fascinating.
I think the path you take depends on what you want to put in and what you expect to get out. Self-publishing is like owning your own business. That can mean longer hours, but it means a lot more of the profits come to you. Traditional publishing is like taking a job at a large corporation. You work on someone else’s schedule. You write what they want you to write. Different personalities will find joy in one or the other of these paths. I recommend trying both to see which works best for you.
As an author with a NYC publishing house, I have wrestled with how valuable different social media outlets are, how much time I should spend blogging, marketing, etc. I have finally come to the conclusion that I should be on Facebook, blog now and then, maintain a website, put up photos on Pinterest when I have a new book come out, and feed my blog to Amazon and Goodreads.
Other than that, I feel like I can easily get wrapped up in too much marketing and then all energy and creativity is gone for the writing part, not to mention time.
Whether you self-publish or go with a major house, you’ll need to do some mix of social media. Very few authors have the brand to “just write.” Publishers expect a lot of writers these days. My strategy was to spend very little time on these things until my works had traction. I concentrated on the writing. I told myself I could write for ten years before I cared if my works took off. It’s not like they grow old or stale. An undiscovered work is a brand new work.
When you do engage in social media, my advice is to just interact with existing readers. Begging for new readers is off-putting. Be entertaining or spread whatever wisdom you’ve accumulated. Useful people are better rewarded than salespeople.
You are so right. Thank you for that advice.
You have had a very interesting life. Makes mine seem so dull. You lived on a sailboat, survived two hurricanes, worked on boats in the Caribbean and the Bahamas, and now you’re a writer. Was it always The Plan to be a writer? If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
I always dreamed of being a writer. And before I wrote novels, I wrote letters, poetry, and short accounts of my adventures. But I never thought it would become a career. If I wasn’t writing, I’d be sailing around the world, dead-broke, doing odd jobs here and there.
The sailing around the world bit sounds lovely to me. The dead broke part, not so much. Been there years ago, done that, didn’t like it. But I think I would be good at reading books on the beach in the Bahamas.
Can you tell us about your day to day life in Jupiter, Florida? Do you write all day? Only late at night? Early in the morning?
I write in the mornings, take my dog for a walk around lunch time, and then do business stuff in the afternoon. Right now, I’m traveling quite a bit. My latest work, SAND, was written entirely on the road. I find hotels and airports keen places to write (I’m answering these questions in the Palm Beach airport on my way out of town again).
And when you are not traveling and writing, what are your hobbies and interests?
In this order: Reading, writing, my dog, photography. And pizza.
Well, of course. All Americans have a hobby in pizza. That’s a given.
What are you working on now?
A speech I have to give in two days. And some secret stuff.
Thank you so much for your time.
Hugh Howey’s website http://www.hughhowey.com/