Jose Llorens, an internationally awarded creative director, who had what many would describe as a dream job in Google. Yet, after three years he suddenly decided to quit in 2016 and write his first novel. After reading the book, I had so many questions to ask Jose, so lets get started.
You seriously quit a stable job at Google to write a book?
Our time on this planet is limited and I didn’t believe I was following my true vocation. I’m passionate about writing and for the past four years the idea of portraying the millennial generation in a novel settled in my mind. Rationally, the decision doesn’t make any sense if you think about your career and finances, but when the heart talks the brain has to listen. It became one of those things that if I didn’t do it, I would have regretted it all my life.
Why did you decide to write about millennials?
I wanted to write a book about my generation and the struggles we encounter to find meaning in our lives whilst making the most of our time. It’s no longer good enough having a stable job, we want to change the world too.
There’s a sequel and a prequel thought for Time on Earth but I don’t know if I’ll write them. The first would focus on the stage of youth when you graduate and try to succeed professionally, and the sequel on the challenge of building a family. Time on Earth is the one in between where you look for meaning.
I really liked Luca the central character. Can you tell our readers a little about him?
He’s a young advertising professional who has everything that is considered to be successful nowadays. A good job, a beautiful girlfriend and a nice flat in London, but he’s far from happy. Seeing himself as a slut of capitalism, his cynicism doesn’t allow him to enjoy his privileged life. Panic attacks and suicidal thoughts push him to leave everything behind and embark on a journey to kill his ego, starting with a visit to an old-time friend in Berlin.
What inspired you to write this book?
I was inspired to write this book after living in Berlin 5 years ago. During this time, I met many authentic people there who had drifted away from the conventional paths of life and were happy and satisfied. It was refreshing to see that there was life beyond the offices and corporate ladders. Travelling a lot, meeting different people and experiencing different situations, this is what gives you all you need when you sit down to write.
Did you have daily writing routine?
At first I tried writing everywhere: bars, the beach, the woods… because apparently writers do that, but it’s impossible to focus and you can end up drunk. I moved to Paris and I wrote most of it there, at home in front of the computer. I’d wake up, make tea, light an incense stick, put trip-hop music, sit down and write. Eight hours a day, many weekends included. It’s important to have a good state of mind, so sleeping well, working out and meditation help.
How long did it take to write?
It took 10 months. One of the hardest things was to write the first pages. This is when you are making the most important decisions about the main character, the narrative and the style. Once you have that clear, it starts flowing easier. But the toughest part came at the end, when I had to format a 309 page novel using Word. That’s when you realise you don’t know how to use Word at all.
Why did you self-publish?
I self published as I wanted to own the entire creative vision. I came from the creative industry where every idea has so many people and parties involved that it’s almost impossible to show your vision, so I wanted to see what would happen if I did something entirely on my own and how far could I take it.
What were your expectations before starting?
The expectation was to make a movie of the book and have it directed by David Fincher. He still hasn’t said no, so technically it’s possible. Jake Gyllenhaal would make the perfect lead actor, he’s very talented and always makes great movies. So, if you are reading this Jake, get in touch and let’s get you the Oscar you so well deserve.
How has writing this book and quitting a stable job at Google changed your life?
I'm more relaxed now. When you're at work you can get too caught up in the rat race. We called it "chasing the carrot". Another promotion, a higher salary, a better project... It's something that looks desirable but once you get it, you just start thinking about the next thing you want, and those things rarely bring you happiness. My goal now is to live a meaningful life, focus on experiences, not products. Our time on Earth is short so we better make the most it.
What advise do you have for anyone thinking of quitting their job to write a book?
Don’t do it, there’s too much competition already! Open a bar or something else… Just kidding, I’d first advise them to read a poem by Bukowski titled “So you want to be a writer.”