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Sunday, September 26, 2021

Davis Public Library holds streaming author visit with Andy Weir

KATE SNOWDON / AGGIE
KATE SNOWDON / AGGIE

Author of The Martian answers questions about his best-selling novel.

When most people think about The Martian, it’s likely they think of the blockbuster movie starring Matt Damon. However, they might not know that The Martian was adapted from a novel written by American novelist Andy Weir. Weir was born in Davis, and the Davis Public Library recently hosted a streaming author visit with him, where he answered questions from the audience. Here’s an in-depth look at Andy Weir, his best-seller The Martian, the process behind the book and its adaptation to the big screen.

The talk began by focusing on the writing process of The Martian. It took Weir about three years to write the novel and after he finished it, he self-published it onto his personal website. As the novel gained popularity, more and more people wanted to see his story in an e-book format. In response to this, Weir uploaded an e-version to Amazon and set the price of his novel to the 99 cent minimum. To his surprise, the novel began selling well and before he knew it, The Martian was at the top of the science fiction best-sellers list. David Fugate, a literary agent, loved the story so much that he contacted Weir and negotiated a book deal for him. Essentially, the book process for The Martian worked backwards. Weir had started with no intention of publishing his work, yet he ended up with a best-selling novel and a film deal with 20th Century Fox.

The novel has also been praised for its scientific accuracy. Due to the many technical details in The Martian, many believe that Weir was in contact with NASA or another space organization during the process of writing. Although Weir has been fascinated with space since childhood and started working as a computer programmer at the age of 15, he used the Internet for most of his information.

“I wasn’t in contact with NASA or any other space organization. I was on my own,” Weir said. “I used Google for most of the science behind The Martian and used the information from NASA and other sources that is public domain”.

There was then a discussion on the protagonist of the novel, Mark Watney, played by Matt Damon in the film adaptation.

“I have this theory. Every author makes his or her protagonist someone they want to be or someone they want to screw,” Weir said. “For the record, I want to be Mark Watney. My inspiration for Watney was the person I wish I was.”

His strong science background was again made clear when he talked about his protagonist’s botany background. Weir stated that he made his character an expert botanist so his protagonist had the knowledge to grow the food he needed in order to survive on Mars. But why does Watney exclusively grow potatoes? There was an answer for this too. Apparently potatoes have the best calorie to square area ratio — something only a botanist would know.

Weir concluded the talk by speaking about the ending of The Martian and any plans he has for a sequel. He admitted that the ending of The Martian feels a bit rushed because he wanted to conclude the action instead of dragging out the end. He stated that he feels his ideas for a sequel are all subpar. Therefore, at this point he has no plans for a sequel and is happy with The Martian as it is.

WRITTEN BY: David Park – arts@theaggie.org

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