In celebration of finally knowing what happens, we've got this interview with Robison Wells with the questions being asked by his endearing brother, Dan Wells, author of Partials (which we loved too!). It's guaranteed to be weird and funny, so check it out:
Dan Wells: Welcome one and all to our interview today, in which I, your handsome and successful host Dan Wells, delve deep into the horrifying mind of my brother Rob Wells.
Robison Wells: Says the author of I Don't Want To Kill You.
Dan: Rob, Variant was your first major book, and we're all very excited for the sequel coming out this Fall, Feedback. I want to start with the question on everybody's mind: where the eff do you get off writing a cliffhanger like that?
Robison: Ha! Without getting into spoilers, the cliffhanger was really for the benefit of readers. (Really!) Originally, the book ended one chapter earlier, and many people thought that the ending was way too ambiguous. So, I had a choice: I could either add a lot more to the book (which was difficult, because it was already long), or I could add a very definitive cliffhanger that declares: "THIS IS THE END OF THE BOOK".
Robison: As much as cliffhangers are maddening, I think that readers kind of love them, too. It kind of goes to that old saying: "Always leave them wanting more." With Variant, I love the cliffhanger because it opens an enormous can of worms that recontextualizes the story. You get to the end and all of a sudden you question everything that you thought you knew. But instead of just making people mad, it makes them really anxious to find out the answers. My favorite reviews say "I just finished Variant and I hate Robison Wells so much! 5 out of 5 stars!"
Dan: That's becoming a pretty popular storytelling device, especially with TV shows like “Lost”. It's kind of cool to see that style bleeding into a different medium.
Robison: Except with Variant, the questions actually have answers. Oooh, TAKE THAT, “Lost”!
Dan: Which brings us to Feedback, which I have read, and I think is even better than Variant. It takes the story into some crazy new territory. How much of that was planned before you wrote Variant?
Robison: The background/worldbuilding was in place during the writing process of Variant. For example, I knew who was running the school and why, and that sort of thing. The specifics of the plot changed a lot during the writing process, and a major subplot got chopped, but it always maintained that strong backbone. I’ll also say that the title, Feedback, is enormously important/meaningful in the book, and I knew the title long before I'd ever finished writing Variant.
Dan: And the revelation of who is running things is definitely a shock. Do you plan to expand on that idea? Will we ever see more of these shadowy conspirators?
Robison: For now the series is planned to be finished up with Feedback--it's just two books, not a trilogy. I will say that readers will get a LOT of answers to their questions, and that they'll be satisfied (I hope) with the resolution, but I really enjoy leaving some questions hanging for speculation. One of my favorite aspects of reading is hypothesizing on unexplained questions, like "What's the deal with Tom Bombadil???" Speculating on unanswered mysteries is part of the joy of reading.
Dan: Man, what IS the deal with Tom Bombadil?
Robison: He used to be the steam shovel operator, and things just got out of hand.
Dan: So does Feedback explain how he hooked up with the River-daughter?
Robison: Not explicitly, but if you read between the lines it's pretty clear the River-Daughter is the smoke monster.
Dan: I've always expected as much. Tell us what's next: if Feedback is the end of the series, and the River-daughter is well and truly hooked-up-with, what other Rob Wells books do we have to look forward to?
Dan: No spoilers at all? Not even little ones?
Robison: Okay, okay… The story is about a girl who discovers she has unusual form of invisibility, just as she finds the world crumbling around her due to an unknown, superpowered kind of terrorism.
Robison: I did! My senior thesis was on the efficacy of modern terrorism. I know it's terrible, but I've always found myself thinking "You know, if I was a terrorist, this is how I would do it." Authors can get away with that. I'm probably on some CIA watch list because of my internet search history.
Dan: So in your story, if you're so dang smart, do the terrorists win?
Robison: I can't give away spoilers! (But, yes.)
Dan: Well. The giant clock outside my window is telling me it's time to stop, because where I am it's already tomorrow. Which is, I should point out, the name of my eventual autobiography. Why don't you finish us off by telling us the name of yours?
Robison: I Probably Shouldn't Have Written That How-To Guide For Terrorists
Dan: Well, folks, that's all for now. Tune in this October for the mind-bending conclusion to Variant, called Feedback, and look out for Blackout sometime next year.
Find Robison online:
Find Dan online: