A Few (more) Quick Questions With…Michael Landweber

Oh, wow…hard to believe it’s been almost 4 years since we did this for Thursday, 1:17 PM! Apparently, he’s used the time very well. I had many, many questions I’d like to ask about The In Between, but they’d require hours of both of us (and would probably eliminate the need for anyone who read this to listen to the book)— so, I’ll limit myself to these.

How is the process different for you in preparing something for an Audible Original rather than print?
The process of writing the book was no different than my usual process, which is to charge headlong into it and hope for the best. The initial editorial process was also similar. It was a joy to work with my editor at Audible, Lara Blackman. As all good editors do, she helped me improve the book significantly. There are some editorial differences for audio only that I would have never considered, such as limiting dialogue tags (“she said”) because the narrators are doing that work for you. But overall I did not change my approach much to write this as an Audible Original.
What part of this novel came first? The teleportation technology (and/or the problems with it), the world, the characters? And then how did you go about adding the rest?
I always start books with a what if question. In this case, it was what if you got lost teleporting. Of course, once a question sticks in my mind, I face the far more difficult task of figuring out how to turn the answer into a compelling story. So characters and plot come next with the world filling in around them. In this case, when I realized that it was a child who gets lost, I knew I had my novel. I’ve got two kids myself, and even though they’re teenagers now and slightly less prone to wandering off, the thought of them being lost is terrifying.
Why Tokyo? I get Omaha, but what was it that made Tokyo the destination for the family? (I have theories, e.g. the opportunity to write off a trip to Japan on your taxes, but I’d rather hear from you)
Actually, Omaha is a more random choice for me than Tokyo. I was an East Asian Studies major in college, focusing on Japan. After graduation, I lived in Tokyo for a year, working at the English-language Japan Times as a copy editor. It is a wonderful country and fascinating from an outsider perspective. Japan is also such a tech-forward place and Tokyo itself has so many hidden oddities in those towering buildings that it made sense to me that folks might be running bootleg teleporters in Akihabara.
When self-driving cars become the norm, are you going to be one insisting on manual control?
I am definitely a Luddite when it comes to self-driving cars. I just can’t bring myself to trust them. I get nervous even watching ads where the cars are parking themselves. Logically, I know that self-driving cars are probably less prone to fatal errors that human beings. But I still can’t quite fathom being in a car that is driving itself. This is not a new issue for me. In high school, I wrote a terrible story about a guy who gets into a self-driving cab that follows everything he says literally. The guy gets pissed and yells “Go to Hell!” That was a pretty typical ending for the stories I wrote in high school.
(I’d pay to read a copy of that story…)

So how awesome are Brittany Pressley and Mark Boyett as narrators? (there’s a softball for you)

They are amazing. When I found out that I would be able to make suggestions on the narrators, I canvassed my friends who are Audible listeners for ideas. Both Brittany and Mark’s names came up repeatedly. I’m also very lucky that Audible decided to give me two narrators for the alternating Lillian and Jackson chapters. The combination of the two voices really brings the book to life.
(I want the record to show that I hadn’t read these responses when I wrote my post about the book, I didn’t steal this phrase from him. But glad to see I’m not alone in thinking it.)

Thanks for your time and willingness to let me badger you with these questions–I really enjoyed The In Between and truly hope that it finds the audience it deserves.

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