Jen: Today we welcome John Forelli to Romancing the Book. John, will you share a short bio with us?
John: John is 24 and lives in Philadelphia. In his free time he enjoys overdrinking with friends and complaining about the Phillies.
Jen: Please tell us about your newest release and where the idea came from.
John: My new release, The Simulations, is existential philosophizing wrapped in workplace satire. It examines the nature of reality and our perception of it, and whether or not we can know for sure that reality is what we think it is.
I watched The Matrix for the first time about a month before writing The Simulations, and I became very interested in the concept that reality is not an objective thing, but a subjective construct of our own minds. As such it is malleable, and changes from person to person. And if it changes from person to person, does that mean that it exists at all?
THE SIMULATIONS excerpt
Back through the purring Mainframe I go, exiting the cool, dark trappings of Server Room 42 for the stale monotony of the rest of the office. My eyes take a minute to adjust to the overlit swath of cubicles stretching before me like a maze to be solved.
Something Bob said echoes in my mind. In my head I repeat it. ‘Reality is what you make it.’ If my reality is to be an endless line of reformatting requests, then perhaps I should make some good of it. And so I proceed quickly through the maze of cubicles as the corners of corporate tedium trace my path on either side. I walk past the company’s receptionist in the foyer. She’s not the one I want, and she’s probably too occupied with an episode of The Office anyway.
Through the door and into the elevator I go, nervously tapping my foot as the floors tick past. 9…8…7…
What should I say? It’s not like me to be so spontaneous, but Bob’s speech was strangely inspirational. I can feel butterflies beating against the walls of my stomach in time with my heart against my chest. They’re playing a symphony of apprehension in time with the elevator’s metronome. 6…5…4…
In my mind I go over what I’ll say. ‘Delilah, if we’re both going to be working here, maybe we should get to know each other better. I was wondering if you’d like to get a coffee one day after work?’ In my heart it’s the apex of romance. In my head it’s the apex of anti-climax. 3…2…1.
The doors open and the lobby is bathed in the natural light utterly lacking upstairs. The rays shine through the windows opposite Delilah’s reception desk. The revolving door refracts the light into a twirling, glowing symphony that lights the desk as though it’s heaven.
Delilah stands there, and my heart jumps for a split second when I think about how perfectly romantic the moment is.
Then I see the man standing there facing her, his facial hair coarse and obscene next to her smooth, dimpled cheeks. He stands there like an oaf, hands in his pockets as Delilah reaches over the reception desk to kiss him. She reaches up with her left hand to touch the scruff and that’s when I see it: a diamond ring, glinting in the sunlight and blinding me with jealousy and disappointment.
The elevator doors close, confining me in blank sterility under sickening artificial light. I was right. The moment was perfectly romantic. It just wasn’t mine.
Jen: Are you a plotter or pantser?
John: When it comes to the broad strokes of the story I’m a plotter. I don’t think you can write a good book without first fleshing out the theme of the story and the arcs that’ll get you there. Without that, you’re just masturbating.
So I know that I want a certain character to get from Point A to Point B in a chapter before I start writing. But when it comes to getting the character there I just write and see where it goes, so I suppose in that respect I’m a pantser.
Jen: How do you remember ideas that come to you at odd times?
John: I have a really terrible, awful memory. Sometimes I’ll want to listen to a song and forget what it was by the time I open Youtube up. So whenever I come up with an especially clever idea (which is rare) I make sure to write it as a note in my phone AND take a picture, because otherwise I’ll forget it’s even in my phone.
Jen: Who has influenced you as a writer?
John: Even though he makes movies, Christopher Nolan. Nolan’s talent for telling creative, sprawling, epic stories on a clear and emotional level is just sublime. Everyone’s seen his Batman movies and Intersteller, but if you’ve never seen The Prestige, I highly, highly recommend it. It’s just a masterclass in storytelling.
Jen: If this book was made into a movie, who do you see playing the main characters?
John: I think Joseph-Gordon Levitt would be perfect as Ray, the main character. I’d like Kate Upton to play one of the characters, but mostly so I could just gawk at her awkwardly on set the whole time.
Jen: What’s the most interesting comment you’ve received about your books?
John: “This is the first book I’ve read in twenty years that made me stop and go ‘wow!’”
Jen: What’s next for you?
John: My novel One Woman, Two Towers is releasing on Amazon on June 9th. You can pre-order it now! I’m also working on a worldwide music mystery story that I think will be ready within a few months.