Please welcome Wayne Gladstone to the blog! His new book, NOTES FROM THE INTERNET APOCALYPSE, came out last week, and he was kind enough to answer a few of my questions!
Congrats on the new book! Will you tell us a bit about NOTES FROM THE INTERNET APOCALYPSE and what inspired it?
Thank you. The novel came from a free writing and the first 500 words of the novel are not too different from what I first wrote. Obviously, once I saw that opening, it took time to figure out what story within the framework of lost Internet worked best. Turned out it was a love story. Or at least a sci fi, noir mystery, existential examination, love story. While it would be foolish to read too much of me into the main character (I hope) the inspiration certainly comes for the idea of the difference between your Internet identity and true self.
Why satire? Why do you think it was the most effective way to tell your story?
I don’t know that it’s the most effective. A lot people can’t process satire. At all. It’s like color blindness. But it’s the form that has always resonated with me. It is the place for change. For hard truths. For laughs that catalyze thoughts and actions.
Obviously the book comments on just how dependent we are on the internet and social media, but, drawing on your extensive experience with online media, why do you think it’s so damn addictive?
Because you are all powerful and of no importance. You decide what you like, dislike. You control your entertainment and you opine on it all, but nothing relies on you. It runs without you. You are not needed. It’s all distraction and no pressure. Even the pressure to have a normal phone conversation, is relieved by IMs. You can watch TV at the same time.
On that note, why do you think pre, post, heck, any kind of apocalyptic stories resonate with readers so strongly?
Well any story is better when the stakes are raised, and with an apocalypse, ain’t none higher. I should say, however, that I was pleased by a review for Booklist that recognized my book is a parody of the Apocalypse genre itself. I mean, in my book everything is FINE. All modern conveniences remain. Just no Net. To treat that like an Apocalypse is part of the satire.
Ok, we know you’re a very funny guy, have written for Cracked as well as Comedy Central, and more, but have you always wanted to be a writer? Will you tell us more about yourself and your background?
I probably have and I took classes in school but barely pursued it in my 20s. My background? Hmm. Grew up in the suburbs of Long Island. Went to the same High School as Natalie Portman and Judd Apatow. (I’m younger than Judd and older than Natalie.
Most people called me the meat in a sexy Jewish sandwich. No one called me that.) I went to Cornell and had the late great Dan McCall as a creative writing Professor and thesis advisor. I live in New York.
What are a few of your favorite books?
Books, short stories, plays…
The Trial by Kafka, and Metamorphosis, Hunger Artist, and Judgement
Kavalier and Clay by Chabon
The Corrections by Franzen
Notes from Underground by Dostoevksy
Bartleby the Scrivener by Melville
Long Day’s Journey Into Night By O’Neill
Without thinking about it for too long, if someone were to ask you for a book rec, just one, which one would you recommend?
The Corrections because if they hate it, we probably don’t have to be friends.
NOTES has a great cover, and I think it perfectly conveys the meat of the book. Have you ever bought a book just for its cover?
I joked that the jacket was so great, that I HOPE people judge my book just by its cover. But no, I haven’t.
Quick, what’s something that makes you laugh out loud?
Charlie Day’s excitement.
When you’re not writing, how do you like to spend your free time?
Watching movies, especially with my kids.
What’s next for you?
Books 2 and 3 of the Internet Apocalypse Trilogy! Already sold. I’m 2/5 done with Book 2 right now.
About NOTES FROM THE INTERNET APOCALYPSE:
When the Internet suddenly stops working, society reels from the loss of flowing data and streaming entertainment. Addicts wander the streets talking to themselves in 140 characters or forcing cats to perform tricks for their amusement, while the truly desperate pin their requests for casual encounters on public bulletin boards. The economy tumbles and the government passes the draconian NET Recovery Act.
For Gladstone, the Net’s disappearance comes particularly hard, following the loss of his wife, leaving his flask of Jamesons and grandfather’s fedora as the only comforts in his Brooklyn apartment. But there are rumors that someone in New York is still online. Someone set apart from this new world where Facebook flirters “poke” each other in real life and members of Anonymous trade memes at secret parties. Where a former librarian can sell information as a human search engine and the perverted fulfill their secret fetishes at the blossoming Rule 34 club. With the help of his friends—a blogger and a webcam girl, both now out of work—Gladstone sets off to find the Internet. But is he the right man to save humanity from this Apocalypse?
For those of you wondering if you have WiFi right now, Wayne Gladstone’s Notes from the Internet Apocalypse examines the question “What is life without the Web?”