If you’ve haven’t heard of Ernest Cline, then congratulations–it must be cozy under that rock of yours. May I join you? Because my sensitive, beautiful ears can’t take any more of the praise for this guy’s (pretty fantastic, I admit) geek-gasm of a debut novel, Ready Player One. All right, Cline. Remember those unkind jocks in high school? Through me they are reborn! It’s wedgie time, punk.
Just who do you think you are?
I am Connor MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod. I was born in 1518 in the village of Glenfinnan on the shores of Loch Shiel. And I am immortal.
But you can call me Ernie.
Where do you get off?
Well, I used to get off at the Route 250 exit on I-71 in central Ohio. That’s how you reach Ashland, my tiny hometown, where I was trapped for most of the 1980s, being bullied, playing Atari, and dreaming of galaxies far, far away. Ashland is also where the characters in my movie Fanboys begin their cross-country quest to break into Skywalker Ranch.
These days, I get off I-35 (I’m not telling you the exit) in Austin, Texas, where I live with my wife and daughter. I don’t get bullied so much anymore—except by charmingly faux-surly interviewers—but I still play Atari, and somewhere along the line, I managed to turn that “dreaming of far-away galaxies” thing into a career, or at least something resembling one. Not really sure how that happened.
What’s the big idea?
The big idea is a video game contest that takes place in the future—with life-and-death stakes. That’s the concept behind my first novel, Ready Player One, published in August 2011 (and, might I add, now available in a reasonably priced and very attractive paperback!). Classic Atari 2600 games, John Hughes movies, and Monty Python all play key roles in the plot.
In spite of it being the geekiest novel ever written, it somehow became a New York Times bestseller, got featured on a bunch of “best of 2011” lists, and Warner Bros is making it into a movie. I honestly don’t know what the hell is going on.
What is your problem, man?
Problem? I don’t have a problem. I’m totally, one hundred percent normal. I’m just a geek who makes his living writing stories about other geeks who overcome insurmountable odds because of how incredibly geeky they are. Nothing weird about that.
But my geeky subject matter does mean that instead of writing, I can spend my whole work day playing classic video games and tell myself I’m doing “research.” So productivity might be my real problem, honestly.
Haven’t you done enough?
God, no. I get itchy if I’m not working on something new. Plus, I really like writing about the stuff I write about. Right now I’m starting work on my second novel, which I’m pretty psyched about, and I just finished up the first draft of the Ready Player One screenplay for Warner Bros.
Oh, and I’m pulling together a crazy online contest for readers of the Ready Player One paperback. Have I mentioned it’s on sale now? You should really go out and buy a copy and stop asking such rude questions.