Title: Data Runner
Series: Data Runner, #1
Author: Sam A. Patel
Publisher: Diversion Books
Publication Date: June 25, 2013
Genres: YA, Sci-fi
Tour Hosted by: Diversion Books
In the not-too-distant future, in what was once the old City of New York, megacorporations have taken over everything. Now even the internet is owned, and the only way to transmit sensitive information is by a network of highly skilled couriers called “data runners” who run it over the sneakernet. It is a dangerous gig in a dirty world, but Jack Nill doesn’t have much choice in the matter. A brilliant young math whiz and champion of parkour, Jack must become one of these data runners in order to get his father out of a major gambling debt. But when a mysterious stranger loads Jack’s chip with a cryptic cargo that everybody wants, he soon becomes the key figure in a conspiracy that could affect the entire North American Alliance. Now it’s all up to Jack. With the help of his best friend, Dexter, and a girl who runs under the name Red Tail, Jack will have to use all his skills to outrun the retrievers and uncover the truth before they catch him and clip him for good.
INTERVIEW with author SAM PATEL
What would your choice of music be as a theme-song for Data Runner?
For the action sequences, I definitely imagine music that gets the blood pumping. Something industrial like Rage Against the Machine or Nine Inch Nails. I love the cover of Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song that Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross did for David Fincher’s remake of Dragon Tattoo. I would love for those two to score the parkour action in Data Runner.
What sparked the idea for Data Runner?
Funny enough, it was the movie Inception. A lot of people watched that movie and saw a story about people invading one another’s dreams, but actually the basis of the movie was a very high tech form of corporate espionage. It actually reminded me of the early cyberpunk novels of William Gibson, which I’ve always loved. Unfortunately, not even Gibson is writing that kind of stuff anymore, so I wanted to rekindle that subgenre of sci-fi, but repurposed for the modern YA market. Then the whole thing went on the back burner for a while until I had this vision of a kid being chased across rooftops by corporate goons, and he does this incredible parkour jump between two buildings to get away from them (what eventually became the cold opening of the book). Once the parkour element presented itself, I knew I had my story.
How long did it take you to write it?
The total time was about a year for the first draft, then another year of rewrites. Mind you, this wasn’t consecutive writing. There were gaps in between when it was in turnaround with publishers. I got notes from a bunch of different people at various stages of the project, at which time I would make revisions accordingly.
How much impact does your childhood have on your writing?
I think my childhood had more of an impact on my wanting to be a writer than the actual content of my writing. I wrote my first short story when I was in the 3rd grade and never looked back. It’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do with my life. I mean, there are many things I want to do in my life, but writing is the only thing that would make me content if that was the only thing I ever ended up doing.
Have you ever read or seen yourself as a character in a book or a movie?
The unnamed narrator in Fight Club. I was a young working professional during the decadent nineties, same as he. Not only did I have the same kind of job he did, I felt the exact same way about it. I lived that life of unfulfilled dreams and quiet discontent. I felt the same rage against society that he did. The first time I read Fight Club it actually made me angry because I felt like this was the book I was supposed to write. If there is one book I wish I could have written, that would be it.
Except as yourself, which character would you want to play in a movie about your life, and why?
Probably my best friend, Tim. He and I are so different and yet we always manage to feed off one another’s energies to get into all kinds of adventures. People always tell us that we’re so much fun to watch because we have this uncanny ability to banter like two characters in a sitcom. I think it’d be fun to play him playing off of me for a while.
What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer?
Why on earth would you want to remain sane as a writer? Sane writing is boring writing. The best writers are those who let themselves be a little insane. The trick is to always be aware of the difference between letting yourself go there creatively and acting upon it in real life.
Are there any occupational hazards to being an author?
You mean besides drinking yourself to death, sticking your head in an oven, or blowing your head off with a shotgun? Can’t think of any.
Has the dog ever eaten your manuscript?
No, but I have a stack of manuscripts I’d like to feed to the dog. Unfortunately, I don’t think even the dog would eat them (and we’re talking about an animal that doesn’t have enough sense to disregard its own feces). Any writer who doesn’t have a stack of discarded pages at least two feet tall is still in the process of honing their craft. Michael Chabon invested five years and 1500 pages in “Fountain City” before he finally discarded it, and just look at the writer who emerged on the other side.
What's the most blatant lie you've ever told?
“143” when what I really meant was “182.”
What is the worst “crime” you committed as a teenager, which your parents had to punish you for?
I’m sorry, those records are permanently sealed.
What is your worst/best memory of high school, and why?
Best memory: in 11th grade the school literary magazine published one of my short stories. I got a 3-page spread all to myself. Everyone read it. People asked me to sign it. I was a rock star for a day. It only lasted the one day, but for me it was the perfect day. Worst memory: every other day of high school besides that one day.
Are you fun to go on holiday with?
That depends. I see some people who schedule their holiday itineraries tighter than their work days, which makes no sense to me. I love to do stuff on my holidays, but if I you’re going to go all Clark Griswold on me then I probably won’t respond very well.
What makes you laugh?
Monty Python, Faulty Towers, Blackadder, Mr. Bean, Frazier, Seinfeld—anything with genuine wit or brilliant physical comedy. My all-time favorite physical comedy actor was John Ritter in Three’s Company. Who could ever forget his classic dance number?... See it here.
Any advice for aspiring writers?
Spend half your time honing your craft and the other half learning the business. Publishing is in this huge transitional state right now, and you can use that to your advantage, but you have to learn about the different distribution channels and business models that are available to you. Is traditional publishing the best route for you, or would you be better off getting your stuff to market quicker as an e-author? The thing to remember is this: the goal of writing a novel is not the same thing as the goal of publishing a novel. The two are very different endeavors. If you don’t start learning about the publishing process during the writing process, you’re going to have a whole lot of work to do on the back end. Neil Gaiman, who is always on the cutting edge of new media, delivered an amazing keynote address about the future of publishing at the 2013 London Book Fair, which you can watch here at my blog…
A huge thank you to Sam for this terrific interview (and my apologies to you, Sam, for removing the question about what you’re like first thing in the morning, but the image you included was just too frightening to share, lol). And another big thank you to Diversion Books for including Books4Tomorrow in this tour!