How did this story come about?
It started as a novel. This happens sometimes. You can imagine all those footnotes and how they get doled out in a plot line that runs over 300 pages? The main character here never appears in that novel, which was never sent out to editors. It remains one of those projects I stare at and rework and then stare at and then put away. I’m now staring at it again.
The way you crafted the historical references: Did their amenability to your storyline start to seem eerie?
The saying that if you have a hammer, everything is a nail came to mind. But yes, the connections just got easier and easier to make. And eerier. Sometimes writing feels like writing, but in the best of times it just feels like discovering.
COVID-19: We must be almost entirely out of vampires, no?
Cytokine storm—when I saw those words start to appear in the New York Times and Washington Post, I went cold. These kinds of viruses that can hijack your immune system become deadly on a grand scale—especially hitting those with the best immune systems. Like vampires.
The key, the desk, the Mission: Will there ever be an answer?
Yes, all of that is answered in the novel version, called Hive—which may or may never be published. There’s actually a scene in the novel that takes place on Hart Island where Rikers Island prisoners are burying some dead bodies—and, right now, they’ve started using Hart Island for some of those who’ve died due to COVID-19, which has been terrifying.
Your body of work is so sweeping, so agnostic of genre, so laden with critical praise: Do you sleep at all? Are you always making notes on ideas? Do you lament the brevity of your lifespan? (Seriously, you’re scary. In the very best way.)
Yeah, I’m a firm believer in sleep—and dreaming, especially courting weird dreams for fiction. People always ask me this question so I created an audio course called Efficient Creativity. The first one is free: bit.ly/3eVERTl. I’ve got a second course that just started, called Jumpstart, that helps get writers writing: bit.ly/3eVl1rb.
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