In collaboration with editors John Joseph Adams and Hugh Howey, A Dribble of Ink is proud to introduce a series of interviews with the authors of The End Has Come, the final volume in the The Apocalypse Triptych. Following on The End is Nigh, and The End Is Here, The End Has Come contains 23 stories about life after the apocalypse.
Interview with Will McIntosh about “Dancing with a Stranger in the Land of Nod”
(Interview by Georgina Kamsika)
What was your inspiration to write this story?
Over the course of the triptych, I’ve been trying to write about an apocalypse that is relatively devoid of violence, and to focus on regular people dealing with everyday interpersonal concerns made far more complex because they’re taking place before/during/after an apocalypse. So my first story explored a man who is struggling to grow up and find his vocation in life at an age when most people have sorted all that out. The second involved a guy whose wife leaves him, and he sets off to pursue his fantasy woman and show his wife how wrong she was to leave him. For this final story, I was interested in looking at two people who have an affair in the aftermath of an apocalypse. Or maybe it’s not an affair. I guess at its core it’s a story about balancing your own happiness with the happiness of your family.
How much research did you undertake for this story?
Pretty much none. I did some research on the nodding disease for the first story, “Dancing With Death in the Land of Nod”, but beyond the virus itself, this story is mostly about characters in a terrible situation struggling to make the right choices.
Walk me through your typical day when you’re writing.
Take the twins to the bus stop. Make tea, go upstairs and start writing at 9 a.m. Take a three-minute break every forty minutes to do something active – situps, stationary bike, curl barbells. Break for lunch at noon, watch The Daily Show while I eat. Back to work around 12:45, write until the kids come home at 3:30 with a thirty minute break to walk or bike. I’m a slow writer, so that might get me 2,000 words.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever got, writing or otherwise?
I got a ton of great advice at Clarion and Taos Toolbox, and it’s difficult to narrow it to one best piece. Maybe it was Maureen McHugh, telling us there was no such thing as writer’s block, because you can always write shit, and if shit is all you can write at that moment, then write shit. You can always delete it later. Turns out that sometimes when I think I’m writing shit, I’m actually doing my best work.
Right now I’m working on my second young adult novel for Penguin Random House. The first, Burning Midnight, is set to be released next spring. This second one is about Celia, a girl who was born in a town surrounded by huge walls. Everyone in town spends their lives trying to break world records. A mysterious audience comes through the gates to watch and cheer them on. After Celia’s mentor dies trying to break the hot dog eating record, Celia escapes by swimming under the wall through a water pipe (she holds the world record for holding your breath under water). Outside, she finds nothing but other towns surrounded by walls.
About Will McIntosh
Will McIntosh is a Hugo award winner and Nebula finalist whose debut novel, Soft Apocalypse, was a finalist for a Locus Award, the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, and the Compton Crook Award. His latest novel is Defenders (May, 2014; Orbit Books), an alien apocalypse novel with a twist. It has been optioned by Warner Brothers for a feature film. Along with four novels, he has published dozens of short stories in venues such as Lightspeed, Asimov’s (where he won the 2010 Reader’s Award), and The Year’s BestScience Fiction & Fantasy. Will was a psychology professor for two decades before turning to writing full-time. He lives in Williamsburg with his wife and their five year-old twins.
About the anthology
Famine. Death. War. Pestilence. These are the harbingers of the biblical apocalypse, of the End of the World. In science fiction, the end is triggered by less figurative means: nuclear holocaust, biological warfare/pandemic, ecological disaster, or cosmological cataclysm.
But before any catastrophe, there are people who see it coming. During, there are heroes who fight against it. And after, there are the survivors who persevere and try to rebuild.
Edited by acclaimed anthologist John Joseph Adams and bestselling author Hugh Howey, The Apocalypse Triptych is a series of three anthologies of apocalyptic fiction. The End Is Nigh focuses on life before the apocalypse. The End is Now turns its attention to life during the apocalypse. And The End Has Come focuses on life after the apocalypse.