1. What was the inspiration for The Apocalypse Gene? How did the two of you develop the idea together?
Actually, that’s the trickiest question because the inspiration comes from all of the revelations in the story, so even hinting at it is basically a big giveaway. But, what we can say is the story was shaped by our idea that at the end of the day—love it, hate it, or don’t care one way or the other about it—you will not be able to say you’ve read anything similar or that you “saw what was coming next.”
And that jives with how we developed the story, which was to recognize that at each crux of the story we came to, the first few ideas we came up with were just rehashes of the way other stories had handled similar situations, so we made sure to keep going until we found something fresh. That took a lot of brainstorming and, let’s just say, “passionate discussions.”
2. When you came up with the reason for the Pandemic, what made you decide to go with a familiar disease like cancer and twist it into something even more frightening, rather than taking the more common approach of inventing a disease?
We actually struggled with this because we knew it may be off-putting to some people to have a real disease like cancer addressed in our book. At least one reviewer actually said something along the lines that “cancer shouldn't be in speculative fiction”. In the end, we decided that we respectfully disagree that speculative fiction is a literary “second class” citizen.
3. The hospice Olivya lives and works in lends a very grim slant to the book from page one. Was it difficult to write about so much sickness and death without letting the book get too depressing? (You balanced it well by the way!)
Thank you for the compliment. Suki works as a medical transcriptionist and I’ve worked—and still work—in various forms of security, we were,, perhaps a little more at home in situations that others would call grim. By the time we were through brainstorming and actually started writing, it was actually very natural to portray the world that way, and we’ve both found that despite how grim situations are in our personal lives we still find humor; we made sure to include a healthy dose of that as well.
4. The virtual school Olivya and Mikah attend was an interesting touch. Did the current obsession for social networking in today's society inspire this element?
To some extent it did. It seems the natural progression, especially with the current trend toward homeschooling, that that by the time our novel takes place there would be an established Virtual School system, and then when the Pandemic strikes it would be upgraded to the level it is in our novel.
5. How did the two of you write the book together? What was the process and balance of work like?
We brainstormed in the gist of the novel. Then I would come up with different plotting ideas and Suki and I would debate them; when we finally agreed, generally I would write the 1st draft of a chapter and Suki the 2nd, though some chapters we did it the other way around. Then as we were going forward we were in a constant state of revision until we were happy with the whole shebang.
6. Do either of you have interesting tricks or rituals when you write?
Hmm, Suki generally writes with an obese calico in her lap, and I sometimes work my way through scenes by doing a one-man show and acting out all the parts—it gets really weird when I do the non-human ones—and living in fear someone will videotape me through the window and put it on YouTube.
7. Who are your favorite authors?
We both love Guy Gavriel Kay. Suki’s a huge Stephen King fan too.
8. Can you tell us about any future projects?
We’d love to.
I am finishing up a crime thriller that will be out around the end of summer beginning of fall currently called, The Black Song Inside.
Suki and I are working on several speculative fiction projects, including a novel and a series of novellas.
We will also be releasing a novel that is a series of interconnected speculative novellas that spin the gamut from sci-fi to horror to folklore to fantasy to magical realism, with recurring characters set in the magical town of Redemption, Arkansas during the Great Depression. Sort of like what Stephen King does with his mythical town of Castle Rock, Maine.
It’s called: REDEMPTION'S LAMENT: Book One of The Redemption Revelations