Saturday, February 16, 2013

Interview with Author Collin Tobin

Give us a quick introduction on yourself and your book. I manage a team of software testers at Adobe Systems. I hail from Massachusetts, am married and have two daughters. My book, Upload, is about a boy, Jay Brooks, who stumbles onto a crime scene in progress and uploads a mysterious transmission while cruising around his home state, searching for wireless hotspots.

What inspired you to write your first book? The idea. I finally had an idea that I thought would sustain a novel length story. Previously, I had been partial to writing short stories and poems, and had written half a previous novel that petered out. But the idea behind Upload inspired me enough to take it on and see it through.

Do you have a specific writing style? I tend toward being as descriptive and detailed as possible. And at least in first drafts, I may write overly long, knowing full well heavy trimming will be in order
How did you come up with the title? I needed something that had punch, that was memorable, and that didn't give too much away (in the way that other candidate titles for the book did). It must have come to me overnight while I slept, because it just suddenly hit me in the shower. The title connotes just enough to let readers know the book is technology related, but also relays a strong theme throughout the story.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? The message COULD be for all of us to beware of technology, be scared of it, etc. But it's not. I embrace technology and love it for all that it can do for us to make our lives easier. The message is a bit cautionary though, but doesn't merely apply to technology. It's a lesson as old as most: Just because you can do it, doesn't mean you should.

How much of the book is realistic? Since the writing of the book a couple of years ago, the story has become more and more plausible.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor? Vladimir Nabokov. But I refuse to try to write like him. Besides, I cannot. What I do hope to have learned from him is to maintain a keen eye in my daily life, store things away and present them again in the bright light of a novel, short story, or poem. Beyond elements of plot, character, or story crisis, I love nothing more than something accurately described. This is what I've learned from him.
What book are you reading now? Sharp Objects, by Gillian Flynn. Very good so far. I'm half way through.

What are your current projects? I'm polishing my first draft of my second novel, titled "dirt". It's the story of two grown brothers digging a tunnel from their childhood home's basement. One knows where the tunnel will end, one does not.

Do you see writing as a career? I can definitely see writing as a career. And by "see" I ironically mean putting on the tightest set of blinders possible, and not factoring in several realities regarding supporting myself, my family, etc. Writing for a career would be fantastic--but true fantasy.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? I've mentioned in other interviews that I really think it was a slow transition from my fascination with magic. When I learned the secrets to these tricks, it was a bit disheartening, but I soon found much more mystery and awe in literature, both the reading and the writing of it.

Who designed the covers? Streetlight Graphics, and I couldn't be more pleased with the result.

What was the hardest part of writing your book? That hardest part of Upload was being mindful of who knows what when and the juggling of timelines. A jetsam of spreadsheets, flowcharts, diagrams, and notes were left behind in Upload's wake.

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it? The difficulty of it all. Sometimes you look back on a project and wonder, if I could have known ahead of time the work involved, would I still have done it? Definitely for Upload, a resolute "yes". But still, the pure effort, soup to nuts, was huge.