"Circuits of the Wind: A Legend of the Net Age" explores the evolution of the techno age and the impact it's had on the souls of human beings as told through the eyes of Ray Valentine who came of age during the internet explosion. In my interview with the author Michael Stutz, on January 24, 2013, we discussed "Circuits of the Wind", the writing process and more.
Q: Did you write CIRCUITS OF THE WIND with a particular audience in
mind? Is it specifically geared toward GenXers?
A: I basically wrote the book I wanted to read, because it didn't
exist---not even remotely so---and I just couldn't believe it at the
time. But the full answer to this question is a little more involved.
I think the current book-buying market, what with bookstores
disappearing and digital books becoming almost the norm, is exciting
but weird. Probably more people are reading than ever, there's
certainly more books being made than ever, we live out our lives
looking at scrolls and screens---but I'm much more aligned with the
books of the past and am interested in going in a whole other
direction than the one that most narrative prose has been headed. My
drummer beats a new rhythm.
And I know there's still a strong audience for other kinds of prose
narrative---people do read "challenging" writers like Vollmann or
Pynchon and people still read literature and I hear more people
mentioning <i>Infinite Jest</i> in passing now than when David Foster
Wallace was alive.
CIRCUITS OF THE WIND is a book about Generation X but I didn't write
it with a single generation, or even an established audience, in
mind---although there were, in fact, a few very specific friends and
people that I'd thought of as a so-called "audience" while I was
One of those people was Matthew J. Bruccoli, the great editor and
bookman---he was the first person to read the book in manuscript
form, and he was neither a GenXer nor online. In fact, he would refer
to a computer as "the television."
But I think if you were there, if you knew "home computers" back in
the 80s and you knew the net of the 90s, or if you're merely curious
about that place and time---the day of Generation X and the great
coming of the net---well then that would be a huge bonus for sure.
Q: What did you enjoy most about writing CIRCUITS OF THE WIND?
A: I have a battered-up sea-chest that my ancestors used to bring over
all their possessions on their journey from the Old World to the New.
I keep all my final manuscripts and the finished copies of my books
and writing in there, and locking away the completed copy of the book
when it was done was definitely the most enjoyable aspect of its
Q: What would you like for readers to take away from CIRCUITS OF THE WIND?
A: Sights, sounds, feelings, a lingered image and a strong sensation
that remains---in short, a real and living world. I hope that in some
memorable way I'll have brought them there, into a breathing world,
and made them feel and see it happen.
Q: Who are some of your biggest influences as a writer?
A: The sea, the sun, stars---and a passing gaze, connected and forever
Q: Name a book by another author that you wish you had had the chance
to write yourself.
A: I think that little pocket-book by Thomas à Kempis comes to mind, but
I've never really had the wish to have written someone else's
book---they're too personal. And knowing what's required in the
process, and what you have to give, I'm more than satisfied to stay
right here with the task of writing out my own and not try to branch
out into someone else's territory.
Q: Who would be your first choice to play Ray in a film version of
CIRCUITS OF THE WIND?
A: I can tell you what everybody else has been saying, because it's been
coming up and they all name the same guy---but that would be
cheating. So now we're stuck, because my problem is that I'm entirely
out of touch with present-day Hollywood. I mean that seriously,
because it doesn't concern me, and my focus is elsewhere, so I just
don't know who the players are and couldn't even begin to pretend.
But if you were going to film the whole thing I will say that you're
going to need two actors: the childhood Raymond and then the young
adult Ray. And you'd probably need an archivist at IBM to help with
all the retro computer stuff. Do they even do big films like that
now, that cover so many years of a character's life and show the
world as it was? I'd like to see all the nostalgia up on the screen
and hear the music, certainly---and have I got an awesome track
listing for that, too!