"Zach Wyner doesn’t press the kids he works with about their alleged crimes. Instead, he encourages them to tell the stories that are inside them: whether that’s about their families, their passions, or the futures they dream of."
"It's this almost poetic ability to capture and analyze the moment and the fragments of life that pass through crisis, relationships, choices, and consequences that keep What We Never Had alive and moving through a post-college world where one door has shut and the next remains ajar, facing both possibilities and the unknown. Readers with an affinity for humor, poetic language, and an unusual narrative approach that uses the form "you" to capture life's subtler nuances will find this novel to be unerringly precise and pointed in its protagonist's journey through the netherworld that often represents the post-college condition."
"I recently watched Mike Birbiglia’s movie, Don’t Think Twice, and one of my favorite lines was, “Your twenties are all about hope and then your thirties are all about realizing how dumb it was to hope.” We’re shown this kind of mentality throughout What We Never Had. The main character Josh—though not quite thirty—is starting to develop a similar outlook on life. It is mentioned, but never fully developed, about how he came back to Los Angeles to try and make it as an actor, but it didn’t pan out. He failed years before the story takes place and now we’re watching him readjust his expectations for life. The acting element is a small piece of the greater narrative and while we don’t get the full story we’re not supposed to because the core of Zach Wyner’s novel is what comes after."
"The book tells the story of Josh, a twenty-something guy living in Hollywood during the tense, post-Iraq invasion days of 2003. Josh, whose ambitions as an actor have come to naught, has found a job supervising privileged teens in a high school “Homework Club.” His friends Bill and Amare aren’t so lucky. Chronically unemployed, they spend their days railing against the state of the world and their nights crashing on the couch of Josh’s one-bedroom apartment."
3-5 minute read for anyone interested in where the inspiration for What We Never Had came from, what challenges I encountered, what advice I'd give to fellow writers and where I see the publishing industry heading.
"Art is connection. And yes. We need it desperately. In a world in which empathy is under a digital siege, and propaganda is sharpening our fears into murderous hatred, we desperately need art so we might connect our experiences to other people’s experiences, and in so doing recognize our shared humanity."
In this interview, I discuss writing in the second person, the inspiration for the characters in What We Never Had, my writing process, the sociopolitical landscape of 2003 and the way in which that landscape shaped the characters.
Please join me for a reading, discussion and book signing on September 15th at 7PM at Diesel, a Bookstore, on College Ave in Oakland.
More events on the way, including:
- 9/29: An evening of highbrow literary luminosity with Calder G. Lorenz at The Booksmith, in San Francisco.
- 9/30: Los Angeles Book Launch at Stories Books and Cafe in Echo Park. (More info coming soon.)
By the way, follow this link to see the updated cover with blurbs from force of nature Joshua Mohr and actual rock star Alex Ebert.
"A stunning debut reminiscent of Joshua Ferris’ Then We Came To An End, Zach Wyner’s What We Never Had is a fresh and interesting new voice in American literary fiction."
I'm very excited to announce that my first novel, What We Never Had, is being published by Rare Bird Books.
It'll be out September 13.
From the press release:
"Meet Josh, a paragon for the modern postcollegiate. He has a job with no upward path, and a dysfunctional relationship with his ex. Through his work with teenagers, he begins to find definition through the haze, gradually discovering purpose and a measure of self-respect. After two shiftless friends take up residence in his apartment, using his couch as a podium to rail against the world, he takes stock of who he is versus who he wants to be. And when his troubled ex finds herself in real danger, Josh can't resist the allure of playing the savior, but now he may have a little wisdom on his side."