Wil Wheaton

Happy Mermaid Day

It’s here!  Today marks the offical release of The Mermaid’s Madness [Amazon | Mysterious Galaxy]!  Which means I’ll be pretty much useless for the next few days, as I go through the hyperactive bipolarity of book launch insanity, checking Amason rankings, Googling reviews, preparing for the book launch party (Thursday evening at Schulers-Eastwood in Lansing), and so on.

This is going to be a crazy week.  I’ll do my best to avoid getting carried away pointing out awesome reviews or linking to giveaways or the 10/12 contest at Bitten By Books where you’ll be able to win one of 12 DAW anthologies or a grand prize of a complete set of painted goblin miniatures.

Likewise, I promise not to spend the entire week linking to my web site, where you can read the first chapter of the book online, or plastering the synopsis over every post like so:

There is an old story — you might have heard it — about a young mermaid, the daughter of a king, who saved the life of a human prince and fell in love.

So innocent was her love, so pure her devotion, that she would pay any price for the chance to be with her prince. She gave up her voice, her family, and the sea, and became human. But the prince had fallen in love with another woman.

The tales say the little mermaid sacrificed her own life so that her beloved prince could find happiness with his bride.

The tales lie.

(I also promise most entries won’t be as long-winded as this one.  But hey, I’ve got a book out today!  I’m allowed one day of excited babble, dammit!)

My thanks to everyone who participated in the one-question interviews.  I’ll be adding questions and links as they go live, and you can click over to read the answers.

  1. In the Princess series, what makes you choose certain characters as protagonists, and certain characters as antagonists? What princess have you enjoyed working with the most thus far? (-Catherine Shaff-Stump)
  2. What do you know now—about your characters and world, about writing, about yourself—that you didn’t know when you started writing these books?  (-Rose Fox at Genreville)
  3. 5 Quick Questions, including who would win in a fight between the three princesses? (-Lexie Hamilton)
  4. Where did you get the name for your most difficult to name character? (-orcaarrow)
  5. Will ninjas be making an appearance in this book, or will we have to wait for book five: The Ninja’s Nemesis? (-socchanIncludes a special visual aid!
  6. 3 questions, including “In a tag-team match, televised to the entire world, who would win? Goblins or Princesses? And would the Goblins cheat?” (-Jaime Moyer)
  7. Before you started writing this series, what fairytale Princess (Disney or not) did you most identify with personally? (-Philomena Hill)
  8. Princesses vs. Transformers: who would win? (-guinwhyte) I think this was my favorite silly question!
  9. What inspired you to create Jig?  Did he come from your gaming experience or did you have some other kind of inspiration?  Or did he just pop into your head? (-Dave Roy)
  10. Have you ever been worried that someone would see themselves (or think they saw someone from real life) in your work? (-Steve Saus)
  11. I’m wondering about your feelings/thoughts/actions on putting a “message” in novels. Like when 9/11 happened, was it time for novelists to jump on the soapbox about the evils of fanaticism/war/whatever? (-Jenn Simmons)
  12. When you realized that The Stepsister Scheme could be the start of a series, did that realization come complete with ideas for the other fairy tales you’d like to use, or did the later books develop as you looked for new fairy tales? (-dragovianknight)
  13. Do you now, when you encounter a new or old folk tale, find yourself mentally rubbing your hands together and thinking ‘hmm, I think I can use that’? Are you incapable of ‘turning it off’ at this point? (-b_writes)

Finally, as long as you’re going book-shopping, check out these other new releases:

Flesh and Fire [Amazon | Mysterious Galaxy], by Laura Anne Gilman.
Dragon’s Ring [Amazon | Mysterious Galaxy], by Dave Freer.
Memories of the Future, Volume 1, by Wil Wheaton.
How Not to Make a Wish [Amazon | Mysterious Galaxy], by Mindy Klasky.

Flesh and Fire by Laura Anne Gilman: Book Cover Dragon's Ring by Dave Freer: Book Cover  How Not to Make a Wish by Mindy Klasky: Book Cover

Just a Geek, by Wil Wheaton

It was early 2004.  I had just signed a deal with Five Star to publish Goblin Quest.  This would be my first published fantasy novel, hopefully bringing me one step closer to actually Making It As A Writer.  With Five Star being a small specialty press, I was on my own when it came to blurbs.  So I e-mailed a few people I knew.  On a whim, after reading one of Wheaton’s blog columns about gaming, I wrote him a quick e-mail.

Six hours later, I bounded away from the computer, grabbed my wife by the arms, and said, “Holy @#$%, Wil Wheaton said he’d read my book!”

Not only did he read it, he provided my favorite blurb ever, calling Goblin Quest “Too f***ing cool for words!”  He also hooked me up with John Kovalic, who went on to provide another blurb.

It’s hard to put into words how much that meant.  I was a nobody in the writing world. I had friends signing deals with major publishers, and I was with a press that might sell 500 copies if I was lucky.  I felt like a fraud, and I was terrified people were going to find out.

Having Wil Wheaton agree to read the book, and his follow-up e-mails saying how much he enjoyed it … well, it didn’t make the crazy go away, but it helped.  It helped a lot.

So now it’s five years later, and I finally got my hands on Wil’s book Just a Geek [Amazon | Mysterious Galaxy], a collection of blog posts and original material chronicling Wil’s decision to leave Star Trek, his efforts to find work in Hollywood, the struggle to balance career and family, and his eventual decision to give this writing thing a try. 

I’ve read his blog for years, so I knew he was a good writer, and I fully expected to enjoy the book.  What I didn’t expect was how much I would relate to the stories he shared.  How many of you writers out there can connect to this:

The hundreds of adoring fans I’d hoped to see did show up . . . when people like Kevin Smith and the cast of the short-lived Witchblade took up temporary residence at tables near mine.

Yep.  That could be me at one of several group booksignings I’ve done next to folks like John Scalzi or Mike Resnick.  Or how about:

I would often be one of the final two or three actors to be considered.  But consistently coming in second or third was actually worse than not making it past the first round of meetings.  It was like scaling Mount Everest, only to die within sight of the summit . . . over and over again.

I think every writer goes through this stage, where we’re getting “Almost, but not quite” rejections and going bugnut insane trying to figure out why we can’t make the cut when we’re so freaking close.

There were other pieces that jumped out at me.  Wil mentions legal battles with his stepsons’ father, and the overwhelming lawyer bills that come with them.  (Been there, done that.)  He writes about choosing bewteen going with his family on a vacation or staying home in order to make it to auditions.  (Some of you might remember when I missed half of my family vacation in order to make the deadline on Mermaid.)

The point is, it’s an aptly-named book.  There’s a blunt honestly to the writing.  You don’t feel like you’re reading about a celebrity; you’re reading about a guy who, like most of the folks reading this review, is just a geek (albeit one with 10,000 times as many Twitter followers as most of us).  If writing is about creating a connection between author and reader, then Wheaton is a damn good writer.

If you’ve read his blog, you know Wil Wheaton can write.  Just a Geek shows he can do it at book-length, tying individual stories and blog entries together into a larger story, one which starts with Wil Wheaton trying to Prove to Everyone That Quitting Star Trek Wasn’t A Mistake, and ending with Wil Wheaton, Author.

The book comes out in paperback at the end of this week.  Check it out.

Jim C. Hines