I reviewed Adam Aresty’s novella, The Communication Room on Thursday, and he agreed to take time out of his hectic schedule to answer a few questions.
It’s hard for me to pinpoint when exactly I made the choice to pursue writing — but I will say this, I’ve always been a storyteller from a very young age. I can remember staying up till dawn all through elementary school and high school (and today…) to finish whatever story I was working on. While a lot of other kids my age were focused on sports or some kind of extracurricular activity, I was more excited to get home to my pile of books.What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I have a sort of decompression that I employ before writing. First, I enjoy the ritual of making an excellent cup of coffee. Then, my writing process is centered around music, so I usually pick a different genre or a specific band depending on the project (for The Communication Room I listened to a lot of Pink Floyd, especially the “Wish You Were Here” and “Animals” albums, but “The Wall” inevitably crept in there as well…) I employ “writing sprints” where I set a timer for one hour and keep my head down, silence my phone, try to keep the noise out. I used to set my watch, but I got a really nice hourglass for Christmas last year so lately I turn that over and dive right in. Once the hour’s up, I step away, take my dog Ace for a walk or have a snack, and return to do the same. I usually get in about 4 or 5 sprints a day.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I live in Los Angeles, which is a city practically built on distractions for writers. I like fitness, hiking, and especially eating my way through the city (said fitness is only to offset all the cheeseburgers). If you check out my Instagram that’s usually what I’m snapping photos of. LA is such an interesting place with many nooks and crannies — you could get lost among the taco trucks alone. I like to hit up some music shows as well, as we have some really world-class venues like The Hollywood Bowl. During the summer, the outdoor movie screenings are a dime a dozen, but there’s one in particular that my wife Holly and I love to go to at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Tarantino’s movie theater, The New Beverly, shows really interesting double features which can be a lot of fun.
In one sentence, tell us what your novel is all about.
The Communication Room is about a body-snatcher type alien invasion told from the point of view of the last human left alive.
What inspired you to write The Communication Room?
I usually get inspiration from images or a question I find myself asking… in this case it was both. There’s a great thrift market in Hollywood on the weekends that I was perusing last year. A man was selling antique telephones from many different decades. Rotary phones, touch tone, even old cell phones. They were spread out across this great big table, and it was such an odd image… I found myself wondering what would happen if they started ringing. Who would be on the other end? And the story just kind of spun out from there.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing The Communication Room?
I work primarily as a screenwriter, but I love to write prose as well. To me, one of the hardest lessons to learn as a writer is how powerful prose can be in a psychological way. TCR is a deeply psychological story, so I like to think that I learned how to describe the inner monologue of a very desperate man. It was a challenge, for sure. Oh, and I learned a lot about the history of the telephone.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
Yeah, I love hearing from readers. When you write a movie, it’s a very collaborative process and the praise (or blame) gets spread out across a lot of different people. As an author, you’re writer, director, wardrobe, craft services… the list goes on. So it’s really rewarding to be able to engage with people who loved or even hated what you wrote. It all comes back to you. I’m happy to answer any and all questions and you can find more work by me on my website (adamaresty.com) including something I’m calling “Free Fiction,” little short stories I’m putting up every week.
Is there a message in The Communication Room that you want readers to grasp?
With every story I tell, I’m looking to find a great metaphor. In TCR, I’m working with body-snatching aliens and I’m trying to relate them to the subject of terrorism in the modern world. I actually just wrote a little essay about this over at SFFworld (http://goo.gl/98C21j).
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in The Communication Room?
The short answer is yes. I could spend all the time in the world scrutinizing every word, sentence, paragraph until I deemed them to be perfect. But that’s what’s so exciting about publishing — at a certain point, you have to trust the story you’re trying to tell and put it out there for readers. I love the feedback I’ve gotten so far on TCR and it’s delightful to find that a lot of reviews have totally dug what I set out to accomplish.
What are the three coolest things that have happened to you since becoming a published author?
1. Getting invited to do a reading / signing at one of my favorite bookstores in Hollywood, Book Soup (that’s coming up in August).
2. Having Jeremy Robinson, a sci-fi author I really admire, read The Communication Room and like it enough to give me a little shout out and a blurb for the book. Thanks, Jeremy!
3. Giving a copy to my mom.
The Communication Room is a stand-alone novella; do you have any ongoing series?
I’m working on a novel that takes the themes and the monster from TCR and puts them in the present day — the plan is for that to become a series. I’m typing as fast as I can!
Tell us about future projects you’re working on.
I had a horror/comedy called STUNG come out last year (it’s streaming on Netflix now) and I’m working on a sequel to that. I’ve usually got a few ideas in various stages bouncing around in my head at the same time.
Thanks, Adam! Be sure to check out his novella, The Communication Room, and comedy horror film, STUNG, on Netflix.
Photo Credit: Tae Kwon