Set My Heart To Five is an extraordinarily complex, yet poignant & joyful journey into understanding the human condition in the perspective of an Android named Jared in 2054. The book is quirky, entertaining & compelling all at once & after our chat with Author of the Week, Simon Stephenson, you will see that his brilliant mind spills out on the pages. In this chat, we talk about inspiration from the tech hub of San Francisco, robots, gene editing, screenwriting & the beautiful truth that is the power of human emotions. You don’t have to love science fiction to love this book, you have to love what makes us human – our feelings. We hope you enjoy this chat as much as we did.
In this chat we discuss:
- Simon on Set My Heart To Five & the concept of the future year of 2054 not being a dystopia as we are already living in one. It’s not a dystopia, but a ‘mystopia’.
- Simon on the future he paints in Set My Heart To Five: Elon Musk incinerating the moon. Humans have locked themselves out of the internet. Robots have taken over jobs that don’t require human emotion, like dentistry.
- “The things that we can do on gene editing are so far beyond what the common conversation is” – says Simon on creating Androids.
- Why Androids make perfect dentists.
- What happens when Androids begin feeling things, the only difference between humans and androids is their ability for empathy.
- Hollywood working with artificial intelligence to write screenplays.
- San Francisco as a major influence in the creation of the book – the epicentre of the tech world. Simon sees this as a step into the future with robots delivering toothpaste & every second person creating an app or building a robot.
- Simon’s experience in the movie industry & one of the key motives being making people ‘feel’ from each screenplay – whether a tearjerker or a horror film.
- Simon on developing the voice of Jared, the android & writing in first person with the quirky implementation of additional charts, imagery & additional touches to the book. “Part of my journey in life has been trying to recognise my emotions & becoming more upfront & honest with things.” says Simon, as he relates in a sense to the narrator, Jared.
- Jared on ‘embodying’ the android character of Jared. “I do feel an awful lot of affinity with the character & it may be that I’m essentially an android going about my day to day life anyway.”
- Let Not The Waves Of The Sea – Jared talks about his memoir on losing his brother in the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004. “I tried not to write about it for quite a long time… It was like a creative exorcism – I just needed to get this stuff out… just as a record of him.” says Simon.
- Simon’s nine year hiatus from writing his last book & the books in between that didn’t quite make the cut.
- Simon’s experience from working in medicine to writing a novel & then transitioning to television & film writing in LA.
- The power of film producers’ assistants & Simon’s script that spread like wildfire over the span of a long haul flight.
- What’s next for Set My Heart to Five: the novel as a film with the director, Edgar Wright & Simon’s challenge as adapting the book to film. “I’m always very cautious as there’s such a vast difference from page to screen.” “I’m super excited to see what Edgar does with it,” says Simon.
- The publishing process as “anti-climatic” says Simon. Simon relates publishing a book like the old quote: “publishing a book of poems is like dropping a handful of rose petals in the Grand Canyon & expecting an echo”.
- Upcoming books in the pipeline for Simon.