Edgar Scott is an economist and database manager who, at one point in his life, decided to write books. Inspired by such masterpieces of dystopian literature as George Orwell’s legendary Nineteen Eighty-Four and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, he decided to use those inspirations, as well as his personal experience in working with databases to write sci-fi books about very unsettling phenomena.
His latest book, 418: I Am a Teapot, has just come out and has become an Amazon #1 best-seller. BookTrib summarized the dystopian book in the following fashion:
“Inner and outer lives clash in Edgar Scott’s unsettling tale of a world where humans give away their bodies in exchange for pleasures of the mind. Evoking such science-fiction classics as Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot, Scott shows us the extremes of escaping our reality and leaving our bodies behind.”– BookTrib
We had the pleasure of sitting down with Mr. Edgar Scott to talk about this new dystopian best-seller and he answered some questions for us. We found out about the creative process and inspiration behind the book, but also the whole writing and editing process which, although being smooth for the most part, took a lot of time to fully complete. We also talked about the future of the novel and its characters with Mr. Scott, who revealed whether he had plans to revisit this world.
We also got some exclusive information on the live-action movie based on the book, whose screenplay is currently being written by Scott himself. But, to give you a full insight on how it all evolved, here is the whole interview for your pleasure.
1. What can you tell me about your book, 418: I Am a Teapot?
418 is a not so distant, near fiction, dystopia. The immersive internet has come to be, we are able to see, hear, smell, touch, taste, feel anything that has been programmed. If you want to go to the moon, you can feel as little or as much as it as you like, and you never leave the safety and comfort of your easy chair. But this is a world gone wrong. If you could experience online to this extent, would you ever come offline?
At its core is a story about the emancipation of both the protagonist and antagonist from the control of the world that has developed around them. Their search for meaning, identity and a meaningful life.
2. As someone who comes from a rich, but different background, what made you decide to write a fiction novel?
I found myself being annoying good at it what I was paid to do: managing and securing data, networks, troubleshooting code, putting out fires. But I didn’t enjoy it. I grew up in a home, surrounded by books, literally; we had bookshelves in almost every room. The books had to come from someone’s imagination, so why not mine? I’d always enjoyed watching the reactions that my writing could evoke, even in simple emails. Writing a novel is simply a more complete translation of a larger image into prose.
Fiction is a way of making the reader think and consider new possibilities. While things I’ve said are uncomfortably close to being reality, I’ve shown a dark world, I’ve also shown that there is hope. We often didn’t realize that when we didn’t think that we had a choice, that this was our choice. To quote myself: “No one can make you accept a fate that you didn’t choose. The problem is, you don’t know that you have a choice” (page 334 of 418: I am a Teapot). See, I had to write this book.
3. Do you think your technical background helped you in writing this book?
Certainly, it did: It was often my job to evaluate new technologies for potential use or integration by my employer. It is very important to see the downside as well as the upside of new technologies, we want to view them realistically: What are we getting? What is the cost? and how will it be implemented? What else will be affected? This directly flows into my novel.
I’d like to digress; I love technology and frequently write my own programs using Ruby or Python for my own amusement. Technology brings us what seem like new miracles every day. The march of technology is inevitable, but, well, see the above paragraph. We should always be asking, what are we getting? …
4. How long did it take you to write 418: I Am a Teapot? Did it go smoothly?
The writing of 418: I am a Teapot took about eight months. The editing took much longer. While writing there were days when it was like having a fever, my head would be hot, and I’d have to go for walks to ensure that what I’d just typed out was not actually the world I was living in. Editing is the real art of writing. Writing the first draft simply provides a form to work with, editing are the tools we use to sharpen the ideas. In all it then took another year of reading, review, changes, finding new editors and reviewing their comments.
The novel is not an exhaustive source of information —I hope I’m wrong about many things— but it’s now a bit of literature frozen in time, illuminating a world we are moving toward. I’m pleased with it and I’m happy if it has caused even one reader to think.
5. Would you say your opinion is that our society is going to what you pictured in your book? Is dystopian future the reality that awaits us?
I really hope not. My dystopia is one possible future. I do believe that we are attempting to find ways to create a virtually unpaid labor class, but will it cause technological development to stall as it does in my novel, either outcome would be chilling. But a similar future could await us if we don’t start asking questions like, “what am I getting, what am I giving up?”
If we don’t start to ask questions about what technology is doing to us, we will continue to become more insular. The novel depicts two men in extremely isolated situations. Neither can resolve their situations without the other’s help, otherwise their fate is waiting for their days to run out in either retirement or death.
While the technology has shrunk our world it may have made our neighbors more distant.
6. What do you think about your book being compared with some of the biggest cult classics, such as Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot?
I blush. Brave New World surprises me a bit, but we do have the idea of online entertainment and direct neural stimulation, taking the place of Soma, so I’m pleased and flattered. My novel also implies that children of staff are raised in nurseries until they can be converted to staff. But in my dystopia, society is unconcerned with any staff’s health if they can work. Which is disturbingly like how some employers view their staff today.
I think what pleases me most is that those books were written in 1932 and 1950, they have stood the test of time because they were well written and inspired thought, two things I strove for. I hope I’ve contributed something to greater cause of good literature, 1950 was an awful long time ago.
7. Do you think 418: I Am a Teapot, will get a sequel, maybe a series?
Currently, I don’t plan on writing sequel. It is a dystopia, and that makes it a little grim for the writer to have to live through. But I can see numerous stepping off points. There are many story lines in the novel, any one of them could be extrapolated upon. I may decide to revisit the adventures of 418, Brian/King or Prince, but for now, the sequel is simply, “404: Not Found.”
8. I know you are working on making your book a live-action, do you think it has a chance, and what about potential success?
I am currently working on writing/revising a screenplay for 418: I am a Teapot. I think it’s an eventuality that it will become a piece of motion picture or television artistry. We have lots to work with, immersive internet, programmable people, crumbling world, full of visual demonstrations and charming dark imagery. I think this story is crying out for someone with the right vision and media making talents to pick it up and breathe color into the words I’ve left behind.
My bet is, this will be epic and unlike anything that is out there today.
9. Who would you like to see in main roles?
It’s odd, as time passes, I’m less certain. I’m open to hearing what people think should fill those roles. Originally, I thought Brian / King should be filled by an actor like the late Irrfan Khan. I don’t worry about it much, because I know that when I meet the right actor, I’ll have a visceral reaction to them in that role.
I think the actor must understand the problems faced by the characters, Brian is immobilized by not knowing “How?” and 418 —who doesn’t understand frustration— is confused and lost. The interesting thing is those are two factors that immobilize many of us. Perhaps we are all teapots? Because we could all be teapots, who the actors / actresses may be, is wide open.
10. Do you think you will once release the books you have made when you were 25? Can you tell us a bit about them?
No, I don’t think I’ll ever release those books. I don’t mean to frustrate aspiring writers, but I feel the first book, first few books, you write are about yourself. I think it’s unavoidable, and that you can’t write something detached from yourself until you have rid yourself of that burning itch to write your own pains on paper.
I still have those books, but they are words that have been cast into the river of time, I’m much happier making up new stories.
11. What can you tell us about your plans for the future? Books related, but also about TransMedia Group?
I am working on, the screenplay for 418: I am a Teapot. I’m looking for some creative minds to blow colored images into the wire frames I am drawing out in the screenplay.
I’m close to finishing the draft of a murder mystery. I can say there is no mystery about who will be murdered, and no mystery about who is doing it. The novel is about justice and its cousins’ anger and revenge. This novel should raise two immediate questions, Will she get away with it? and does the reader want her to get away with it?
We definitely can’t wait to see 418: I am a Teapot as a live action. Not only that it sounds good, but we are also in need of good dystopian work on screens.