Interview with Author T.C. Weber
When most people think about the apocalypse, what usually comes to mind involves nuclear destruction or zombies or a fatal virus, or a combination of all of these. Author T.C. Weber has put his own spin on the end times scenario with his latest novella “The Survivors”. We were presented with a chance to interview him and had to take it.
GeekPost: The subject matter for The Survivors is different from your Better World trilogy. Was this your first foray into horror style elements, and what inspired you to write it?
T.C.Weber: I write in a lot of different genres. I’ve written some horror short stories and screenplays, but usually write in a more thriller/adventure style. The Survivors is also my first novella. I like the novella format—you can delve deeper and broader than in a short story, but it’s much quicker to write than a full-length novel (The Survivors is 32K words, whereas my cyberpunk novels are all >100K). Unfortunately, the market for novellas is minuscule compared to novels, so they are difficult to publish (and forget about getting an agent).
I’m a big fan of post-apocalyptic horror and survival stories. I’ve watched more than my share of zombie movies and shows and read all the Walking Dead comic books. I wanted to write a story like that, only without zombies—because in fact, we humans are our own worst enemy. My work studying climate change also fit in—what might happen if we don’t stop it? My experiences of wilderness trekking and camping were also helpful—how can people survive without cars and grocery stores? How do you find food? How do you start a fire without a lighter? (Answer: it’s not easy!)
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GeekPost: The Survivors has a strong trigger warning. Tell us about how it was to write about such strong subject matters.
T.C.Weber: The Survivors is an intense book, containing scenes with terror, graphic violence and gore. One reviewer called it “bleak, unsettling, and totally brutal.” For me, it was cathartic: the sheer scale of climate change and the relentless assaults on democracy frequently keep me up at night. What’s the worst that could happen? The Survivors takes a look at that.
As soon as I finished the first draft, I began working on a more hopeful novel, a seapunk adventure (possibly the first!). Solstice Publishing is also releasing a satire of local government (The Council) that I wrote.
GeekPost: You are not only well traveled, but your day job is as an ecologist. How would you say your experiences in visiting other countries and your day job influence your writing?
T.C.Weber: Everyone should visit other countries and interact with locals as one human to another (as opposed to tourist/servant). Most Americans seem to think everything about our country is better than anywhere else, but that comes from not knowing any better. Every culture has its pluses and minuses, and people are basically the same everywhere, yet different as individuals, with culture and environment as shaping forces. I think that’s helpful when developing characters. I’ve only written one book set mostly in a different country so far (The Wrath of Leviathan) but will probably write more.
My knowledge of ecology and the natural world is helpful in writing realistic surroundings. This was especially true for The Survivors, which pits not only human vs. human, but human vs. nature. It helped me visualize the challenges the characters would face trying to stay alive in a harsh world.
GeekPost: What challenges have you faced so far in your writing career, and how are you overcoming them?
T.C.Weber: The hardest part of writing is sitting down every morning (in my case) and getting into the flow of writing. Perhaps it’s the hardest part of any journey: to begin. Persistence is a huge challenge. It takes a year or two to write and edit a novel, and even a novella takes time. Then there’s publishing—it’s a challenge finding a publisher, especially without an agent.
It’s helpful to interact with other writers, to identify manuscript problems you might miss, to grow as a writer, and for the social aspect. I am in two critique groups. I also solicit feedback from beta readers, who are mostly other writers. If you want to join my beta reader team, please let me know!
T.C.Weber: The BetterWorld near-future cyberpunk trilogy comprises three of my four novels published prior to The Survivors (the fourth is an alternate history novel titled Born in Salt). While the books are still available individually from See Sharp Press, I recently released an eBook compilation of all three books plus added material, titled The War for Reality.
In the series, a giant media corporation (MediaCorp) has taken over the Internet, created an addictive virtual reality called BetterWorld, and controls nearly all information. Politicians do their bidding, and a brainwashed humanity serves a privileged few.
The first volume, Sleep State Interrupt, was a Compton Crook Award finalist for best first science fiction novel. Waylee Freid, an unemployed Baltimore journalist with ever-worsening bipolar disorder, and Charles, a teenage hacker from public housing, seek to wake up the world and bring about a brighter future. They must sneak into a closed presidential fundraiser, record incriminating admissions, and broadcast it during the Super Bowl. But to do so, they must avoid a huge manhunt and break into one of the most secure facilities ever built.
In the second volume, Wrath of Leviathan, Waylee faces life in prison. Exiled in Brazil, her young sister Kiyoko and their hacker friends continue the fight. But MediaCorp and their government allies may quash the rebellion before it takes off. And unknown to Kiyoko and her friends, a team of ruthless mercenaries is after them, and closing in fast.
In the final volume, Zero-Day Rising, the group is reunited and set on bringing down President Rand and MediaCorp. However, MediaCorp unleashes their ultimate plan: direct mind control with cerebral implants. Can Kiyoko and Waylee’s team stop them? Can they penetrate MediaCorp’s networks and end the company’s grip over humanity? All while eluding the biggest manhunt in history, in a country where everyone and everything is under surveillance?
GeekPost: Do you consider yourself a geek, and if so, what does that mean to you?
T.C.Weber: Labels are one of the brain’s lazy shortcuts. Stereotyping is bad both in fiction and reality. That aside, in admittedly geeky or nerdy fashion, I pulled up the Merriam-Webster definition:
- a person often of an intellectual bent who is disliked
- an enthusiast or expert especially in a technological field or activity
- a carnival performer often billed as a wild man whose act usually includes biting the head off a live chicken or snake
I don’t meet #1 and certainly not #3 but meet #2. I’m a certified ecologist, a branch of science. As an ecologist, I’ve performed statistical analyses and computer programming, as well as writing scientific papers. That fits the geek definition. One of my hobbies is logging species in iNaturalist. That’s pretty nerdy. I write and read science fiction, although not exclusively, and am a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. And I love anime (some of it). All in all, including the way I answered the question, you could call me a geek. 😊
GeekPost: Do you have any pets and if so, what can you tell us about them?
T.C.Weber: We have two miniature schnauzers named Zeke and Paisley that we adopted from a rescue organization. They are twins and do everything together–even drink out of the same water bowl simultaneously sometimes!
GeekPost: Your website says you work with a non-profit organization as an Ecologist. That is important work, we would love to learn a bit more.
T.C.Weber: I have an M.S. in systems ecology and wetland ecology, am a Certified Ecologist by the Ecological Society of America, am certified by the State of Maryland as a Forest Professional, and have been certified to perform stream sampling. I currently work for Defenders of Wildlife on climate adaptation for wildlife and ecosystems, attempting to ensure that the federal government addresses climate change impacts appropriately, especially for endangered and threatened species. Before that, I was a science manager at the Conservation Fund, mostly working on conservation projects and plans.
GeekPost: What advice would you give to someone who is wanting to write a novel?
- Write something every day, preferably at a set time.
- Make a list of ideas (I like to add to this first thing in the morning).
- Finish things.
- Join a critique group and get feedback on your writing.
- Never be afraid that your work isn’t good enough.
- Read books on the elements of storytelling, and recognize you’ll always have new things to learn.
- Have fun.
Also remember writing is not a pathway to riches. Only a tiny fraction of authors can support a family on solely a writing income. Furthermore, it takes time and hard work to master the craft of writing. My advice is, write what you want to write, not what you think will sell. Write sincerely and plumb the depths of human nature. Edit until you have a finely polished gem. Writing is art. It is a calling. Eventually someone will discover your genius—for we are all geniuses in our own way—and who knows what will happen next?
GeekPost: Thank you for taking the time to let The Geek Post and our readers get to know more about you and your work. As a last question, what one thing do you want anyone who is reading this to know?
T.C.Weber: The premise of The Survivors is that humans fail to take the action needed to halt climate change before the planet reaches irreversible and catastrophic tipping points. This could indeed happen, although thankfully many (although not all) governments are finally listening to scientists and the public.
Climate change threatens the very survival of civilization. It’s happening now with extreme heat waves, massive fires, storms, mega-droughts, and zoonotic pandemics, and is projected to get much, much worse without immediate action. We need to stop burning coal and oil and must protect and restore the world’s forests and other ecosystems. We also need to stop poaching wildlife and selling them in markets where they can spread zoonotic diseases like Covid-19.
Lastly, you can check out my writing at https://www.tcweber.com/ . The website contains links to my books, free short stories, and excerpts, writing tips, and a couple of drink recipes. Thanks for reading!
Geek Post would like to thank Mr. T.C. Weber for his great interview. To learn more about him and his works, make sure you check out his Website Here, and his social media links below.