Interview with Noel Zamot, Author of The Feather’s Push
10 Oct 2023
What’s the story behind the story? What inspired you to write The Feather’s Push?
My first novel, The Archer’s Thread, was inspired by a family conversation: “What realistic super-ability would you most want to have?” It had to be something feasible, not like flying or super-strength. I chose seeing ten seconds into the future. Once I wrote that book, I wondered what other abilities — possible from a scientific point of view — would be disruptive for the other people in this world. How would they develop those abilities in a believable way? About that time, I read something about the business of pharmaceutical companies, and how cutthroat that would could be. What if the conditions of these people were the result of botched medical trials?
We’re not talking X-men mutant stuff — these had to be conditions that were feasible. How would you deal with the fact that you were a medical experiment? How could that tinkering destroy your mind? That idea—a typical person, with faults and hopes and fears and dreams, thrust into a world where they gain a condition they never asked for, and for which they are highly unprepared — seemed like a ton of fun. Once I had that arc, the first book was easy, and tying it to this one made writing it a joy.
If you had to pick theme songs for the main characters of The Feather’s Push, what would they be?
I actually have a playlist for them! I play it whenever I’m writing an action scene, and skip to the appropriate songs for certain interactions. The playlist is a combination of songs I like to write to, and songs I imagine the characters listening to on their own. Here is the one for “The Feather’s Push!”
- Amber’s song would probably be “Sunflower”, a sweet-sounding tune about something quite dark.
- Kelly would probably belt out “Roam,” although she told her boyfriend that her favorite song is “More than This,” by Roxy Music.
- Paula Mendez would secretly play “6’s to 9’s” on her headphones while staring longingly at her coworker.
- Simon Lyons’ favorite song is “Indigo Eyes” by Peter Murphy, but would probably listen to “I’m Coming Home.”
What’s your favorite genre to read? Is it the same as your favorite genre to write?
I devour anything by Blake Crouch, and am now working my way through Hugh Howey’s works. I like speculative fiction that tells a deeper tale, and those two authors are masters at it.
What books are on your TBR pile right now?
I am finishing up the Wool trilogy (the basis for the Silo show on AppleTV), just finished “Recursion” by Blake Crouch, and am halfway through Hugh Howey’s “Machine Learning,” which is a collection of his unpublished short stories. Every single one is awesome.
What scene in your book was your favorite to write?
A key arc in the book focuses on how Amber discovers her growing abilities, and uses them for some nefarious stuff. She pushes all that away when she meets someone she believes might change her life. Of course, her past crashes back. She is terrified she’ll be found — again — and is desperate for redemption.
There is a very touching scene where she goes to a nursing home to prove to herself that “she is not a monster.” A few days later, that experience—where she tries to atone for the horrors she’s committed— comes back at the most unexpected time, and the most unexpected manner. All of her hopes and dreams collide in one scene which was tremendously fun—and emotional— to write.
Do you have any quirky writing habits? (lucky mugs, cats on laps, etc.)
I wish I had a quirky writing habit! What I do have are a series of “golden moments” throughout the day where something new and intriguing about a story comes up. Usually they happen when I am the furthest away from any implement which might be used to capture them. So I make it a point to go everywhere with my trusty Leuchturm notebook, just in case.
I’ve been in more than one conversation where I suddenly have to stop, pull out the book, and scribble something down. I have to explain that my mind wasn’t wandering — whomever I was speaking with was a spark. The weird part of that ongoing experience is that I write in my notebook from both ends. Front to back is how I write my to-do’s, calendars, notes, etc. But I start at the end and work myself towards the front with my writing ideas. When they meet in the middle, you end up with a pretty accurate X-ray into my thought processes.
Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?
My favorite quote of all time is from… Yoda! In “The Empire Strikes Back,” Yoda asks Luke to use the Force to pull his X-Wing out of the swamp. Luke tries, fails, and walks away. Yoda takes a deep breath, and without another word, raises the ship. Luke stares at it, and mutters “I don’t believe it.” Yoda replies with the best line in the entire Star Wars canon, and possibly all of cinema: “That is why you fail.”
If you could choose one thing for readers to remember after reading your book, what would it be?
Question everything. It is the last line in the afterword to “The Feather’s Push”. We live in an age where truth can be manufactured with alarming ease, and people will violently defend implausible and impossible ideas which have zero basis in reality. We have gone to the moon, housed humans in the international space station for decades… and some people still believe the earth is flat. You can fill in other equally implausible insanity no matter where you reside in the policy or political spectrum.
Why do we go to the edge? Simple: because our attention is valuable. Someone is making a killing out of putting insanity out in the world, and having the less discerning among us take a bite. Artificial Intelligence makes this child’s play. Our puny primate brains are no match for a global presence that can distill all of humanity’s information into something that will give you a tiny dopamine fix. This is ultimately the theme of my book, and what keeps me up at night. How to survive in this informational and factual dystopia? Question everything, but do it on the basis of fact, not emotion.
Noel Zamot is the author of the new book The Feather’s Push
Connect with Noel ZamotAuthor Site
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