Tue
Apr 29 2014 4:00pm

The Pop Quiz at the End of the Universe: Walter Jury

Welcome back to The Pop Quiz at the End of the Universe, a recurring series here on Tor.com featuring some of our favorite science fiction and fantasy authors, artists, and others!

Today we’re joined by Walter Jury, co-author (along with Sarah Fine) of Scan, a science fiction YA adventure novel available May 1st from Penguin Young Readers. Walter was born in London and has a background in the film industry—he is the producer of the Divergent film series under his real name, Pouya Shahbazian.

Join us as we cover subjects ranging from prawn-monsters to Mozart, and more!

Name your favorite monster from fiction, film, TV or any other pop culture source.

I’m obsessed with District 9. This movie blew me away when it was released. So inventive and so fun to experience. I really am excited by it! So I would say that Wikus becoming a Prawn/monster is my favorite monster from fiction or film. To know that beneath all of his ugly Prawn exterior is a wonderful heart and a caring guy—it is the type of favorite you want to root for and be able to say that looks are not important—it’s what is inside that counts!

Scan Walter Jury Sarah Fine If you had to choose one band or artist to provide the official soundtrack to your new book, who would it be?

Linkin Park. They have a rad sound. I remember when I heard the first single on the radio back in 1999 or 2000—the sound was unlike anything else: Chester’s gravelly voice, Shinoda’s rapping, fantastic beats and musicality. They are a huge influence on my early adulthood, and would totally fit to make the soundtrack for SCAN, which is an action-packed SF thriller about a kid with a lot of pent-up anger at his family. Fitting, right?

Which language, real or fictional, would you like the ability to speak fluently? Who would you talk to?

French. When it comes to French, you’ve either got it or you don’t. Having a native tongue for French cannot be replicated. I don’t feel that way about other languages—there is just a rhythm and essence to being a native French speaker that would be nice to have. I can speak it a bit, but I just don’t think anyone in France wants to hear my lousy accent.

Two roads diverge in a yellow wood: one leads toward a mysterious laboratory in which a mad scientist is currently ensconced. The other winds its way toward a tower inhabited by a powerful wizard. You could really use a snack, and it would be nice to have somewhere to crash for the night—which road do you choose?

Madness is too unpredictable for me. So I think dealing with a mad scientist would be a really, really bad idea. A powerful wizard on the other hand—I feel like we could actually enjoy some pleasant (and rational) conversation. After all, a powerful wizard would probably welcome a profound discussion on the meaning of life or just who really is Walter White? or some other topic they haven’t had the chance to discuss of late.

What’s the most embarrassing guilty pleasure you’ll admit to? (music, movies, pop culture, food, drink, etc…all fair game!)

Pop music and the Real World/Road Rules Challenge. As much as it pains me to say it, a good pop song gives me a motivating adrenaline rush. For example, I really like “Dark Horse” by Katy Perry & Three-Six Mafia (don’t judge...at least not too harshly!). And the RW/RR Challenge is something that my wife and I look forward to weekly. In fact, there was a moment a few seasons ago when we were both on the edge of our seats as we hoped CT/Adam would win a challenge, only to lose at the last second. I remember being blown away how tense I got for a REALITY TV COMPETITION!

Name your three favorite fictional villains of all time.

  • Mitch Leary (John Malkovich) from In the Line of Fire. The best villain—he reinforces the old adage—“A hero is only as heroic as a villain is villainous.”
  • Syndrome from The Incredibles. It’s been reported in the media that there was supposed to be another main villain in the film, but Syndrome worked out so well as they made the film, that he became the main bad guy. Great film, great heroes, great villain!
  • Koobus Venter from District 9. What a jerk—he really was hateable! (very well-cast and well-played in the film). Koobus was so awful that you really want to be invested in Wikus, our hero (who I hope we get to see in a sequel before long...).

Bad news: You’re about to be marooned alone on a desert island—name the five things you would bring along.

  1. Cannolis. Love cannolis—my favorite dessert.
  2. My Kindle. I always need my Kindle to read.
  3. My Samsung Smartwatch, Smartphone and 12.2 inch Tablet (seriously—have you seen the resolution on that? it is incredible!)
  4. My mouthguard. I sleep with a mouthguard and I think it is a real necessity (especially in dealing with some of the personalities in my day job).
  5. DVDs of my handful of favorite films: District 9 (director Neill Blomkamp is a genius!), Amadeus, Bridge on the River Kwai, Goodfellas, to name a few!

If you, as a ghost, could regularly haunt one celebrity, author, orliterary figure, who would it be?

As a ghost, I would haunt Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and I would try to get him to stay more focused on his craft. Apparently Mozart was quite the partier. I love his music and I think the world would be that much better off for him having been dedicated to his craft. So I would haunt him and make sure he stuck to composing as opposed to partying. Every time he wanted to slack off and lose valuable days being unproductive, I would remind him that the world is going to love his music (with a little spooky scare) and get him back on task!

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