Was it hard to leave Jesse at the end of 3 books? How many books do you think there will be in the Alone series?
It was hard, and it was always planned to be three books. There was a point somewhere during writing Quarantine where I was tempted to write more of the character and situation, but I’ve decided to let the trilogy be, to leave it alone while I still liked it. That said, it's been a year since the trilogy concluded in Australia and England and a bunch of other countries, and I keep getting fan mail asking for more. I have thought of more; perhaps even in the same time frame of Jesse’s story but from another character’s view point, which would be a fun project to undertake. It all depends if I find the time to do it.
How has ALONE been received to date?
Better than I expected – good reviews, reprints, and it's sold into many countries and languages. When I wrote Chasers I was worried the themes might be perceived as too bleak for a teen audience, but young and adult readers have embraced the book. The feedback from adults is they want to know more about what's gone on and who did the attack on New York, while the teen readers enjoy the story and just go along for the ride.
Some people would categorize it as zombie fiction, though it's not, but it is certainly in the post-apocalyptic genre. Are you a big fan of those worlds?
Some of my first reviews compared Alone to Z For Zachariah, which I'd not read but I have now, and it's a good read. The Road is great. The Stand is good. On The Beach is good. I Am Legend is good.
With zombie films I liked the Romero films I’d seen as a teen, and then more recently the comedic ones like Shawn of the Dead and Zac Snider’s Dawn of the Dead, oh and Zombieland. The TV show The Walking Dead has some great moments to it. There are also all the virus books and films, like 28 Days Later, Andromeda Strain, etc. Originally I wanted to write the Alone trilogy as a Shawn of the Dead meets 28 Days Later, but ended up creating Alone as more of a Anne Frank’s Diary Of A Young Girl meets I Am Legend, with a hint of Life Of Pi and Enders Game.
I'm a great believer in what the critic Harold Bloom terms the "anxiety of influence" in creating fiction, and that books are born of books.
What's your writing schedule like?
I have no set routine other than writing every day. I’ve not set an alarm for seven or eight years, I just wake when I’m meant to, go to a local café with my computer or notebook, and work through a few coffees, come home, do some more work, have dinner, do a little more writing or editing and that’s it. I probably average 3000 good words per day, but if pushed on deadline or if the creative juices are really flowing, it’s closer to 5,000.
Your writing has a particularly cinematic feel. Are you just as influenced by visual media as you are books?
Yes. I have a very visual mind, and often storyboard scenes when I'm doing my planning and research, which is usually a month-long process before I sit down to type the novel. These days I read as many film scripts as I do novels, and I do like that they are so economical with language—they have the same amount of story as a novel, only a screenwriter has 100 pages instead of 300. TV is brilliant these days too; Game of Thrones is a great example of suspenseful storytelling. Whether it's a novel or a film, at the end of the day we're trying to create good, fun storytelling that keeps you guessing and wanting more. And if I can put some allegorical content in there about how I see the world, then all the better...
It’s interesting to hear what writers read in their spare time, and the genres and variety of books are often surprising. Can you tell us what are you reading at the moment and what you five favorite books are?
This is always a hard question, but right now my five favorites are: Siddhartha, The Little Prince, Blood Meridian, Lolita, and The Jungle Book.