Waiting on Week: UNISON SPARK by Andy Marino

Got the pleasure of meeting Andy Marino in person just a few weeks ago and since then I've eagerly anticipated his debut novel, Unison Spark, due from Henry Holt this November. Thought maybe a little interview would be in order to get all of you as pumped as I am.

First off, tell us a little about Unison Spark.

AM: Unison Spark is a dystopian novel about a future where Facebook, Twitter, and the other dominant social networks of our time have evolved into Unison, an all-consuming, fully immersive experience that knows you better than you know yourself. Outside of Unison, people are crammed into Eastern Seaboard City, where an enormous ceiling separates wealthy topsiders from the poverty-stricken subcanopy zone. These worlds collide when Mistletoe, a subcanopy girl, meets Ambrose, the heir to the Unison empire. Together, they unravel a secret past that leads straight to the heart of a mysterious upgrade, Unison 3.0. Then it gets pretty wild.  

So you're dealing with alot of issues revolving around social networking. What's your feeling about social networking in general? How involved with it are you? What do you think are the benefits and pitfalls?

AM:For a long time I resisted joining Facebook for the same reason I’ve never owned a Nintendo Wii: being a productive fiction writer is all about limiting distractions. I know that for me, the problem isn’t hating the medium – whether it’s TV, video games, or social networking – the problem is loving it too much. I can’t get anything done without disabling my internet connection, because if I give in to the urge to check my email while I’m writing – just a quick look! – I’ll wake from three hours later with a drool-saturated keyboard and a dozen live Styx videos playing.

Now I’m involved across the board: Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, a personal blog.  Some days I agree with the rhetoric: hey, this really IS a great networking and publicity tool! Other days, it makes me feel like an even tinier cog in the machinery of human existence than is probably healthy. 

Anyway, I think all this complicated stuff that makes social networking so hard to respond to in any meaningful way also makes it the ideal backdrop for a sci-fi novel. It already feels oceanic and sinister.

So this is you first novel, what was your journey to publication like?

AM: It taught me important emotional lessons like how to tremble internally, so people couldn’t see how nervous and hopeful and scared I was feeling. On the business end of things, I’m fortunate to have come through without a single horror story. My agent believed in me from the beginning, and my editor probably understands what I’m trying to write about better than I do.

What one writer do you think we should all be reading? Why?

AM:Ever since I first read Game of Thrones I’ve been compulsively recommending George RR Martin; with all the recent exposure from the HBO series, that’s kind of like urging people to check out this really cool band called The Rolling Stones. But all hype aside, he’s an absolutely mind-blowing and inspirational writer. His genius for world-building – not just the fantastic elements, but the raw human conflict – is off the charts.

You've recently set out on your blog to cover every episode of Darkwing Duck. First off, that's awesome. Second, for the uninitiated, why should we love that duck as much as you do?

Besides the rogues' gallery of bizarre and funny villains, Darkwing Duck himself is a ridiculous combination of misplaced bravado, genuine tenderness, and actual crimefighting ability. He has a cool hat, and his catchphrases are mostly awesome. And the voice acting is top-notch. The very first episode features Tim Curry!

Interests outside writing? I seem to remember something about a heavy metal band...?

I play guitar in a band called SleepCrime. Our first album, Everything Secret Degenerates, is out now, and we’re working on the follow-up. We’ve got a new song about a China Mieville character.

So say hi to Andy everybody, ask him any questions you've got and be sure to follow his blog and check him out on Twitter

Now, as if you needed any more proof that Andy is an awesome dude you need to be paying attention to, here's a video of SleepCrime's The Christmas Truce.  


LM Preston said...

Great interview with Andy!

Matthew MacNish said...

That sounds like an awesome premise.

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Melody said...

Great interview and intriguing premise! The story already captures me, and the names are brilliant. Definitely on my To Read list.