Shea Serrano on John Wick, Worldbuilding, and Superfans
The Author of Movies (And Other Things) on The Maris Review
On the author’s responsibility to promote his or her book:
Shea: Here’s the thing: I feel that same sort of dread [when promoting a book]. It’d be really cool if you didn’t have to do this part. It’d be cool if everyone was [Liane] Moriarty, and you put the book out and Reese Witherspoon is on the phone. That’d be cool, but it’s not that way for basically everyone except for ten people.
It’s your responsibility as the author to get that book out there, particularly in the case of a nonfiction book. A fiction book can grab hold, and everybody is talking about it and it becomes this thing. A nonfiction book is much harder for that to happen because it’s basically a person talking about some stuff that somebody else made.
On the wonders of his fans on Twitter:
Maris: On social media, you amplify other voices all the time, and you motivate all your fans to do amazing things all the time, like giving their money to charity. Does it feel more balanced when you can ask them for a favor in return?
Shea: I think that’s a fair thing to say. All the charitable stuff, that’s a holdover from being a teacher. When you’re a teacher, you have the opportunity every day to do something really cool for somebody else. A direct impact. You can see it when it happens, when you make a kid feel comfortable in the room or they’re proud of something. You see it happen.
When I’m writing, I’m literally all day in front of my computer in my office, and it’s just me in there. I get in there at 8:30, so from 8:30 to 4:30 I have zero words said out loud, unless I order food. I’m not talking to anybody. It’s a lonely job. Being on Twitter helps alleviate that, and every once in a while funding somebody’s GoFundMe because they need it makes me feel a tiny bit like when I had a moment with a student.
On the world building of Booksmart and John Wick 3:
Maris: What was your favorite movie so far of 2019?
Shea: I’m going back and forth between two, and it depends on which one I just watched.
Right now I’m going to say Booksmart because I watched it on the plane from San Antonio to New York. I was on Delta, and it was part of their free movies you can watch. It’s that film and John Wick 3. Whichever one I had seen most recently, this is my favorite one.
They are totally different movies, but similar in brilliant world building and character creation. That’s an always intriguing thing for me. In the case of John Wick, for example, it does such a good job of introducing you to this book and giving you just enough information that you feel like you understand it but never so much that you can poke holes in anything that they do or say.
Shea Serrano‘s most recent book, Basketball (And Other Things), was a #1 New York Times bestseller and selected by President Barack Obama as one of his favorite reads of the year. His previous book, The Rap Year Book, is being turned into a documentary that will air on AMC in 2019. Currently, he’s a staff writer for The Ringer. His new book is called Movies (And Other Things).