Jack Cooper is a depressed, analogue throwback; a cynical, alcoholic Gen-Xer whose glory days are behind him. He’s unemployed, his marriage has broken down, he’s addicted to internet hook-ups, and is deeply ashamed of his son Geronimo, who lives life dressed as a bear.
When Jack’s daughter engineers a job for him at totally-lit tech firm Sweet, he’s confronted by a Millennial and Zoomer culture he can’t relate to. He loathes every detail – every IM, gif and emoji – apart from Freya, twenty years his junior and addicted to broadcasting her life on social media.
Can Jack evolve to fit in at Sweet, or will he remain a dinosaur stuck in the 1980s? And will he halt his slide into loneliness and repair his family relationships?
XYZ is for every Gen-Xer who ever struggled with a device, and for everyone else who loves emojis … said no one ever.
– When and where do you prefer to write?
I have a man cave that I built myself in the cellar of the house. It’s quiet, funky, messy and most of the time is full of family junk. Some corners have small ecosystems in which I watch spiders and flies in timeless battles while other corners hold the dog food or my pile of works in progress (of which I have about 6 novels!) Which neatly brings me onto time. I prefer to have written rather than write, so the real answer to the question is anytime after 1985 and before 2019!
– Do you have a certain ritual?
Actually yes. I use the pomodoro technique. I set a tomato shaped timer for twenty-five minutes of utter focus. No internet, no books, no phone, no interruptions. When the timer goes off, I can have a five-minute break before it all starts again. The soft tick of the timer is quite meditative and I rather love the experience. (it’s running right now as I type these words).
– Is there a drink of some food that keeps you company while you write?
Well, apart from the tomato timer – which only resembles food– I do sometimes bring down coffee and a nut bar. But I count food and drink as a distraction that should only be imbibed during the five-minute break.
– What is your favourite book?
This is such a tough question. My tastes have changed over the years and while once I’d have rattled off a string of James Herbert books, I now find I love Nick Hornby, Tony Parsons and Ian McKewan and these have made up my influences. But I guess my favourite right now is a classic. East of Eden by John Steinbeck. It’s just awesome.
– Do you consider writing a different genre in the future?
Yes. This latest book, XYZ, is a departure from my first, The Donated, which was a thriller with an injection of horror. XYZ is a drama-satire loosely based on some of my own experiences working in the tech industry with a large dose of hyperbole and oodles of dramatic effect.
– Do you sometimes base your characters on people you know?
Yes. But I can’t let you know who.
– Do you take a notebook everywhere in order to write down ideas that pop up?
Yes, but it’s mostly full of doodles and bullet lists to do with housework and kids.
– Which genre do you not like at all?
I’ve read them all. I even like a lot of them. But I don’t usually pick up police procedurals or romance. I prefer dramas that are character driven and thoughtful science fiction with a moral or a point to it.
– If you had the chance to co-write a book. Whom would it be with?
God. He’d be great. Tell me where I’m going wrong, let me know the secrets of the universe. An inside track into what readers really want and then a few miracles to make it into a best seller.
– If you should travel to a foreign country to do research, which one would you chose and why?
Tahiti. It’s a little bit of France in the Pacific with hammocks, coral reefs, fabulous beeches and coral atolls. I’m not entirely sure what I would research, but then again, who cares!
Thank you, William Knight and Rachel’s Random Resources
About the author
William Knight is British born writer and technologist currently living and working in Wellington, New Zealand. He’s chased a portfolio career which began in acting, progressed to music, flirted with handbag manufacturing and was eventually wired into technology in the late nineties.
“I had my first feature published in Computing magazine back in 2003 and subsequently wrote about the many successes and failings of high-tech for the Guardian, Financial Times and the BBC among many others publications. I now work as an IT consultant, and write blistering content for technology firms :-)” says William
The Donated (formerly Generation), his debut novel and a Sci-tech Thriller, started in 2001 and was ten years in development. XYZ, “A mid-life crisis with a comic vein”, took far less time. “But I think it’s funnier and better. Yay. Jazz hands!”