Inside a genius writer’s mind – In depth with Seattle’s own Neal Stephenson

Sep 21, 2011, 12:44 PM

From Dan Restione/Seattle’s Morning News Producer

Neal Stephenson, author of the new novel “REAMDE”, seems like anything but what he really is.

His newest book is about computer hacking…and a whole lot more.

Seattle Times reviewer Nisi Shawl writes:

“Can a 1,000-plus-page thriller be called fast-paced? If it’s Neal Stephenson’s “Reamde,” the answer’s yes. This latest novel by the Seattle author sometimes called the “geek Homer” revolves around a whirlpool of criminality: A hacker gone bad promises stolen credit-card numbers to a renegade member of the Russian mafia; professional players of an online game launch a virus-powered blackmail scheme; a fanatical terrorist’s bomb lab explodes, taking down an apartment building and mobilizing multiple international intelligence organizations. These situations feed into one another, entangling a cast of believably eccentric characters.”


To see him is to NOT know him at all. Shaved head, somewhat old-timey-time but well groomed beard, button down shirt with a few classy pens peeking out of the breast pocket, jeans, backpack.

To hear him talk… you’re no closer to the truth. Soft spoken with no crescendos of volume or variation of tone and very minimal gesturing. Short to medium pauses between the Q and the A.

But if you listen to what he’s saying- you get a glimpse.

This ordinary looking, quiet talking guy is… a genius and in my opinion, now that Robertson Davies is dead, the most amazing living writer in the world.


Stephenson’s in a world where it seems so much “creative” product amounts to re-treading, re-telling, re-imagining, or re-booting old ideas… Neal throws out new ideas, combinations, and ways to look at life like a cow urinating on a flat rock. He’s a human pointer dog when it comes to really seeing things we pass by everyday. I swear he froze on five different things in just the walk through our newsroom to the studio.

He’s a Seattle writer that I’ve followed throughout his career and the chance to meet and talk to him about his new novel “Reamde” was a huge thrill.

If you know him- you MUST listen to this interview.

Listen to Extended Interview – Neal Stephenson/Seattle author

He talks about how in his early years, his Muse was less an angel than a demon with a whip, what it’s like to write sex scenes, why writing is a craft and not an art, and what he would be if he never wrote a word. It’s all great stuff.

If you don’t know him- listen to the interview but get out there and get one of his books. I’d say just pick up a copy of “Snow Crash” and read the first three pages. You will be hooked and onto a great thing.

And then, then you’ll know Neal Stephenson.

And you’ll know he is a genius.

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Inside a genius writer’s mind – In depth with Seattle’s own Neal Stephenson