Imagine a world in which you have five days to save the universe. The only thing you have to do is buy a book. Easy-peasy.
That's right, at this very moment, on May 27, you have exactly five days to help fund a book that two Dallas Comedy House (DCH) performers have written. You may know them as Nick Scott and Noa Gavin, improvisers par excellence, and now you shall know them as Nick Scott and Noa Gavin, authors par excellence.
Their co-authored book, Practical Applications For Multiverse Theory, is currently listed on Inkshares, where it's going through funding in order to be published. If the book is in the top five sci-fi/fantasy pre-sales on Inkshares by Sunday, May 31, the book will be professionally edited, designed, and then published (sold on Amazon, Apple, Google, and shipped to independent bookstores and Barnes & Noble).
To help you know more about the book, I sat down with Nick and Noa in their Aspen, Colorado, writing cabin for a short interview.
Give me the elevator pitch. What's the book about in 30 words or less?
Nick: Two high school students who hate each other must stop all possible universes from converging on their high school and thus ending existence as we know it. Was that 30 words or less? I’m too lazy to click on “Word Count.”
Noa: It was 41, Nick. You’re a failure.
What is this book's genesis?
Nick: That’s a good question. I think I was the one that approached Noa about writing something together. Writing is a lonely process, and I thought it would be fun to do something where I wasn’t alone. As far as all the ideas and whatnot, everything is so intertwined I don’t remember who came up with what or how the premise came about anymore.
Noa: Nick sat down with me on the brown couch in the old DCH lobby and said, “Would you...would you want to write a book with me?” And then he didn’t mention it again for six months.
Also, yeah, coming up with the plot and ideas, that was both of us. It all kind of snowballed.
How long did it take for you to write it and how many drafts did you go through before listing it on Inkshares?
Nick: Probably a lot longer than it should have. Our goal was to do a chapter a week. But we both went through break-ups and sketch shows and all kinds of stuff during the process, so it ended up taking like a year or two to actually get the first draft done. We only had the rough draft when we put it up on Inkshares. We’re in the process now of revising before (hopefully) submitting it to professional editors. So just one draft. Unless you’re counting the draft where Noa had to email and say, “Hey Nick, this isn’t a chapter, this is just you listing reasons you hate your ex-girlfriend” as a separate draft.
Noa: It was just a year, because at one point we just said, “SCREW IT JUST BURN THROUGH THESE LAST FEW CHAPTERS.” Stephen King was right: first draft is for the author, it’s about figuring out how the world works, so you include a lot of unnecessary details. We had a LOT of fun figuring out how the world worked, so we took forever. The first ¾ of chapters are really long, because we kept writing dumb jokes for the other one to find. Really dumb jokes, that we will most likely leave in, because we are not good people.
That was a real fun chapter, the Ex-Girlfriend list. Nick was not in a good place.
Since it's bi-authored, what kind of writing guidelines did y'all follow? For example, did one of you only write Scott's story line and the other Davey's?
Nick: Yeah, I wrote Scott’s chapters, and Noa wrote Davey’s.
Noa: No spoilers, BUT ALSO THERE’S A CO-WRITTEN CHAPTER WHERE THEY’RE BOTH IN IT. That was a spoiler. We also tried to be the most true to our character’s story. Sometimes the chapters are equal length, sometimes one is much longer or shorter than the other’s. Different people, different stories.
How does improv influence your writing process?
Nick: Really, the whole process for this book was like a hyper version of the “Yes and” drill. We had a basic idea for a story, and the basic idea for the ending, but everything else was discovered on the fly. Noa would have no idea what I was going to be writing and send to her one week, and I would have no idea where Noa would take the story when she sent me her chapter the next week. Just like in an improv scene, if one of us said something or set up a rule for the universe in one of our chapters, it was immediately part of the reality. This was as close to improv that writing a book can be.
Noa: That’s really what made it so much fun to write. We had a really bare outline (we knew the school layout, we knew the three biggest characters, we knew the open and the close), and the rest was just us having as much fun as possible with our plot and our characters. It led to some really cool moments of group mind where we’d come up with the same thing, and just as many instances of, “Oh wow, that’s a really amazing scene/idea he came up with.” Now we have the fun ability to go back and look at a "scene" and then frame it into the best possible, most fun version of itself.
What have you learned about yourself by writing this book?
Nick: That I remember high school much too vividly. Also that I probably I find violence involving school supplies more hilarious than a normal, sane person would.
Noa: That I was much more angry in high school than I thought. That given the chance to fight or make a joke about it, Nick and I are vastly different in choice. I will always fight, preferably with the most Evil Dead-like weapon.
Nick: I think in real life I would probably fight as well, but the character I wrote in the book would definitely just make a joke and then run away as fast as possible.
You describe this as a sci-fi, horror, comedy young adult book. Who are some authors from those genres that influence your writing?
Nick: I think the most favorable comparison we’ve received is to that of David Wong, who wrote John Dies at the End and This Book is Full of Spiders. But all kinds of writers influence how I write: Stephen King, Christopher Moore, Neil Simon, Woody Allen, Kevin Smith, John Scalzi, etc., etc. Oh also Kim Kardashian. That book of selfies she just released provided a lot of uhhh...inspiration.
Noa: I loved that comparison of David Wong because I think his works, JDATE (really unfortunate acronym there) and TBIFOS, are some vastly underrated books. They’re incredible, go read them right now. I’m also influenced by King, but add in a healthy dose of Joe Hill, Margaret Atwood, Shirley Jackson, and Kelly Sue Deconnick. I preferred The Monster at the End of This Book to the selfie book. SLAM.
What kind of book would you like to write next?
Nick: Together? We have ideas for the two books to make this a Multiverse Trilogy. We also have another fun idea that we could write the same way and involves magic. Also a book of really sexy selfies.
Noa: The next two books get even weirder, so if this premise is too strange for you, STRAP THE FUCK IN. The magic book is going to be equally ridiculous, and we also have our own individual novels going (though those are much harder to finish). The sexy selfie book is the same format as The Monster at the End of This Book.
Remember, you have until Sunday, May 31, help fund this book. And as an incentive, every copy that you buy is an entry into a raffle drawing to get a character in the book named after you. Thank you for your support of Nick, Noa, books, and the universe.