Today we welcome Drew Minh to Booklover Book Reviews to discuss his new novel Neon Empire, PLUS we have 2 copies to giveaway.
Disclosure: If you click a link in this post and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission.
Neon Empire Synopsis:
Imagine a city fueled entirely by social media. Rising out of the American desert, this city is a real-world manifestation of a social media network where fame-hungry desperados compete for likes and followers. The bloodier and more daring posts pay off the most. As crime rises, no one stands to gain more than the city’s architects—and, of course, the shareholders who make the place possible.
This multiple-POV novel follows three characters as they navigate the city’s underworld: Cedric Travers, a has-been Hollywood director; A’rore, the city’s lead social media influencer whose star is fading; and Sacha Villanova, a tech and culture reporter.
Bold, colorful, and seductive, Neon Empire is a radically inventive near-future thriller in the mold of Black Mirror or Altered Carbon.
“Minh creates a nonstop social media frenzy amid a rich cyberpunk landscape in this vivid debut.” —Publishers Weekly
(Rare Bird / California Coldblood Books, September 2019)
Q&A with author Drew Minh
How long did it take you to write your book, start to finish?
In total, about two and a half years. The idea had been brewing inside me for a while, and I cranked out a very short first draft in about four months. It needed a lot of work, frankly. I’d written it in first person present tense. This allowed me to be more cinematic and plot-focused, but it didn’t work with the story I was trying to tell. When I decided to go third-person, multiple-POV in the past tense, it allowed me to dive deeper into my characters and my world.
Neon Empire is speculative fiction and there’s a great deal of world-building in it.
My first approach didn’t have the depth or impact I wanted. So, after that miserable first draft I swallowed my pride and basically re-wrote the entire book. It’s completely different in tone and scope. That draft, version 1.5 I’d call it, was then edited and re-edited over the course of a year until I was happy with it.
What kind of career were you working in while writing Neon Empire?
I was working as a digital strategist in the entertainment industry. It paid the bills. But it also gave me fodder for this novel, which has a premise that is based on my experiences working with digital agencies and influencers. I was working at Universal while writing Neon Empire, and had a really tough schedule. Family obligations took up a lot of my time outside of work, but I managed to do it by waking up super early, normally at 4:30 am, and getting in at least an hour of writing a day. When I was really on fire, I even took my lunch breaks at work to write in my car. I just needed to get this thing out there.
What compelled you to write your story?
Working in digital advertising, I started becoming increasingly skeptical about how these big tech companies were using our data to target us across ad networks; and how they were profiting from it. Concurrently, I was also working with a lot of influencers, and saw how that world operated. It was (and is) very mercenary and disingenuous, despite all the claims that it’s authentic. At the same time, I had this idea in my head for a type of dystopian theme park for adults and realized I could mash all of these concepts together. I wanted to criticize the industry in literary form, without being heavy-handed. I was looking for a strong plotline and characters who were morally ambiguous, reflecting a lot of the advertising and tech people I was networking with.
Neon Empire is available from:
About the Author, Drew Minh
Drew Minh is a former digital advertising executive in Los Angeles, with firsthand knowledge of our current social media revolution. He’s lived in Barcelona and Paris, where he worked as a freelance writer, ghostwriter, and digital consultant. He’s had short fiction published in 3AM Magazine, Word Riot, Litro Magazine, and other publications. Neon Empire is his fourth book (previous works: Bedroom Revolutionaries – 2005, Barcelona: City of Crime – 2011, Nomad X – 2012).
Worldwide eBook Giveaway
Thanks to California Coldblood Books we have 2 ebook copies of Neon Empire to giveaway. Open worldwide, entries close midnight 16 September 2019. You can improve your chance of winning by:
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- sharing this Facebook post (incl. entry link) with your Facebook followers
The lucky winners will be randomly selected and announced on our Facebook Page.
SORRY, ENTRIES CLOSED – See winners announcement.