I love the idea of the Liar’s Tour. Is this a real thing somewhere, or did you make it up?
Thanks! I made it up. When I lived in Savannah, there were tour trolleys cruising around the historic district all day long, basically all saying the same things about the same historic sites. I once commented to a friend that if I had a tour trolley business, I’d do something totally different. When she asked me what that something totally different would be, I came up with the idea for a Liar’s Tour. Then I wrote it down in my Miscellaneous Story Fodder file, and ten years later it turned up in this story!
The story is tightly focused on Ben’s dilemma of loving two women, one living and one dead, which is perfect. But the situation that makes this possible is quite amazing in itself, too. You hint at some of the wider ramifications of the dead continuing to interact with the living, but that doesn’t come into play much here. Have you explored this premise in other fiction?
Funny you should ask. This is the first story I’ve written on this topic, but I have notes for a potential novel set in this world. It’s completely different from this story—a thriller rather than a drama/love story. The trick will be getting my editor to green-light a thriller set in the afterlife.
Did this story give you any surprises while you were writing it?
I wrote a first draft, asked some writing friends to critique it, and based on their feedback, I realized it just wasn’t working. It sat on my hard drive for about two years, then one day I realized what was missing. In the original draft (SPOILER ALERT—SPOILER ALERT) the final scene did not involve the visit from his wife. He just eventually realizes what has happened to him. There was no kick to that.
What is a typical writing day like for you?
It involves a lot of writing. Drop the kids at school, write until lunch. After lunch, continue writing. Around 3:00, exercise for thirty to forty-five minutes, then continue writing until 5:30. I take micro-breaks ever hour and do two minutes of exercise, because research indicates sitting all day long is a good way to increase the odds you’ll die at a younger age than you’d probably like, and I have a lot more books I want to write. I actually love the writing—if I have a full day ahead with nothing but writing, I’m excited. What I’ve discovered is that days when I’m in the middle of a project and know what I’m going to write are terrific, whereas days I spend planning out something new, or when I’m stuck and don’t know what comes next, are not as much fun.
Do you have any new projects that you’d like to share?
My first young adult novel, Burning Midnight, is due out February 2 from Random Penguin House. It’s about mysterious colored spheres that are hidden all over the world, and if you have two of the same color they give you something. Easy-to-find colors might give you straighter, whiter teeth; rare colors might give you high intelligence, or physical strength. In the book, two teens find a sphere so rare no one knows what it does. But everyone wants it.
Then I have a new adult novel, Faller, coming from Tor Books. After that, I’m hoping to publish a middle grade book I recently finished (can you tell I want to be Paolo Bacigalupi when I grow up?) about robot bodyguards that look like animals, plus I’m working on a second young adult novel that I’m really excited about. When that’s finished, maybe I’ll start working on a thriller about the afterlife . . .
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