The Wages of Genius is my first novel, a little work of literary fiction about an office worker who thinks he’s the reincarnation of Einstein. The book, set in the San Francisco of the dot-com era, is a day in the life, and the mind, of young Edward Weston as he struggles – kind of lazily – to find his place.
My original title was The Generalyst, or general analyst. Edward does not want to specialize. He wants to know everything. And that doesn’t exactly fly in the modern office.
Of course I know that people say writers often base their first books on real experiences, especially when they’re written in first person, but that’s not true at all in this case. Sure, I worked at some weird companies in San Francisco. And I didn’t want to specialize. Oh, and I didn’t really do much, either, so I did spend a lot of time sitting and thinking and washing dishes in the communal kitchen. But that doesn’t mean this book was based on my experiences. Not at all.
The strange thing about this book is that when I mention it to kids during my school visits, they always want to know more. I’m up there talking about Titanic and robots and pirates and all sorts of amazing stuff, and invariably one of them raises his or her hand at the end and says, “What about that office novel? Can you tell us more about that?” I do, of course, and remind them again and again that they would not like it, but in the end a few more ask where they can check it out. Why? Maybe they’re so overloaded with big giant adventure books about kids saving the world that a sitting-and-thinking story is appealing.