Author Interview: Nick Stephenson

On August 4, 2013, in Humor, Interviews, NICK STEPHENSON, by rsguthrie

I haven’t done an author interview in a while and part of the reason for that is that I don’t go in for the standard “what is your favorite color” interviews because 1) It really doesn’t tell you anything about the writer as a writer and 2) most writers and readers have “been there, done that, got the t-shirt, and lost it because it really wasn’t a cool t-shirt.”

NickStephensonWhen I met Nick Stephenson, however, I knew right away he was the kind of writer (as we all should be) that could take one of my not-so-standard interviews and knock it out of the park.

Nick recently knocked another one out of the park by reaching the coveted #1 spot on Amazon’s Free Bestsellers list with his book, Panic (no easy accomplishment these days with a million authors promoting their books for free on a daily basis). I figured such success made for a perfect time to cast a pool of my interview questions into the waters of the writer known as Nick Stephenson and see what bit. I think you’ll agree with me that the answers I reeled in are both worthy of a writer and more fun than “jeans or shorts?”

So without further babble on my part, may I present the debut of Nick Stephenson with Rob on Writing:

1. This is a new creation called The Writer’s Interview, and you’re the inaugural taker. (By the way, “explain” is implicit at the end of each question—you’re a writer, for God’s sake.) How does this make you feel?

I’m delighted. And handsome. But enough about my more obvious qualities, let’s jump right in!

2. I’m glad you’re delighted and will plead nolo contendre on your claim of handsomeness. You know the old saying “Women are from Venus, Men are from Mars.” As a writer, tell us where you’re from and why?

The idea that someone would suggest that all women are fermented in a planetary body made entirely from boiling gasses is testament to modern society’s need to put a label on everything. Still, running with the planetary theme, I’m quite happy being from Earth. England, to be exact, which is a great place to live – a land of quiet introspection, overcast Thursdays and Nectar Points. The reason I’m from England is that, when I was offered a choice of nations to call my own, I wanted to pick one surrounded by water and not connected to France. Well, you can’t have everything. I’m glad I’m not from Mars; visited once, didn’t like it. Place had no atmosphere*.

*Yes, I know Mars does, technically, have an atmosphere, but I’m entitled to a little artistic license.

3. I was hoping you’d bring Pluto into the conversation so we could talk about what a person from a planet that’s no longer a planet might be like. Okay, try this one: you’re at sea, the boat is sinking, and the only way to survive is to throw one passenger overboard. You’re sailing with a priest, an astronomer, a farmer, and an acrobat. You can’t jump yourself since you’re also the captain. Who and why?

Other than the obvious solution of heroically fixing the ship myself, I would throw the astronaut overboard. Because, as we all know, he’d be wearing his space suit (as all astronauts do, all the time) and would survive. Plus, what use would he or she be on a desert island, anyway? The farmer could grow food, the acrobat could climb trees to collect fruit and the priest could…

Actually, scratch that – I’d throw the priest overboard.

4. I like the idea of a heroic captain. And priests make me uncomfortable, so I’m with you on that. You’ve been banished to a tropical island for life. There’s plenty of fresh fruit, water, and shelter, but no people and no entertainment. You are allowed to bring one book, one movie (there’s a hand-crank projector), one food item, and one famous person from history with whom to talk away the hours. (No, it’s not a corpse; this is supposed to be fun.)

panic-nick-stephensonOkay, so the farmer, astronaut and acrobat all drowned. What a waste. Still, I’m glad I could rope their dead bodies together to create a raft. Not one that floats, mind you.

One book: my first novel, “Panic”, obviously. Not only is it the greatest piece of fiction ever written, but it also makes an excellent hat. If I’m not allowed to choose my own book, I’d probably root for some kind of book that told me how to survive on a desert island – it would most likely be a toss up between Robinson Crusoe and the novelization of the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie.

One movie: See above. Or maybe “Fight Club”. ‘Cos it’s awesome.

One food item: assuming I decide not to eat the acrobat, astronaut, and farmer I’d go for an Iguana – their tails grow back, so I’d always have something to eat.

One famous person from history: I’ve got enough corpses, so I’d opt for an alive version of Einstein. I’d want to know whether Superman’s trick to turn back time would work if I ran round the island really fast – that way I could stop the past me from getting on that damn boat in the first place.

5. Wow, you nailed two out of my three. Fight Club and Albert. No offense to your book, but pretty amazing on the first two! Let’s say instead, you’ve committed some strange crime and receive the punishment of never being able to use your hands. Do you stop writing, learn with your toes, or learn with your nose? Oh, if it’s toes, it must be with your opposite (right-handed, left foot).

I’d probably give voice-recognition a go first, but, failing that, I’d learn to use my toes. Then I could reliably use the phrase “the game is afoot!” every time I got to a good bit.

6. Just when I thought you might have a decent sense of humor you bring out the need for a drum rim shot. Name three things in this world that drive you absolutely bat-shit crazy (obviously one of mine is a joke that requires a rim shot).

Smartphones and tablets – they’re just shit laptops with no keyboard.
Printers – they never work. Especially if you’re trying to use a smartphone or tablet.
Post offices. They close at 5pm and are never open weekends. Anybody else, they’d be investigated for being a front for money laundering.

7. Tell us how to fix those three things.


8. Fire, eh? Maybe I should have called this a psychological exam, Mr. Arsonist (though I couldn’t agree more about the post office). Would you rather swim the English Channel, compete in the Iron Man Triathlon, climb Mt. Everest, or sleep in a vat of non-venomous snakes all night long?

Hmm, quite a choice – I’d probably go for the Iran Man Triathlon and just take it real slow. How hard can it be?

9. Right, especially when that old guy can do it with his son in his arms. All right, here’s your chance at biological glory: which came first, the chicken, the egg, or the rooster? And why?

The egg. It’s simple Darwinian logic – at some point, a DNA mutation created something that was 99.99% what we’d call a chicken – it then laid an egg which hatched a 100% chicken. Evolution, baby.

Either that, or Colonel Sanders bred them from a test tube. One or the other.

10. I’m betting at the very least Colonel Sanders came from a Petri dish. Last question. You can choose the punishment for your most despised person (including the one who made you take this ridiculous interview). Describe it.

They say the definition of hell is an eternity spent in a room with friends. Well, they clearly haven’t met me.

(Or your penchant for fire!)


I want to thank Nick for being a good sport—at times my sense of humor can run a bit to the sarcastic get-laughs-at-other-people’s-expense side (especially when it’s your blog and you always get the final word)! You can catch Nick on his his popular blog right here:

And snatch up some mighty fine books by the man starting here on his Amazon author page:



2 Responses to Author Interview: Nick Stephenson

  1. chickletslit says:

    Very, VERY cool questions, Rob. I could read interviews like this all day. It really showcases the imagination and talent each of you have.

    Nick, great answers! I downoaded Panic this evening and can’t wait to delve into it. Congrats on hitting that #1 spot 🙂

  2. Thanks for the support Chickletslit (if that is indeed your real name) and thanks for taking a look at Panic – especially since it looks like you paid for it, which just makes you that much more extra awesome 🙂

    This has definitely been one of the most fun interviews I’ve done – the man knows how to get my brain whirring.


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