Today's interview is with Will McIntosh, Hugo Award Winner, Nebula Finalist, and the father of twins. Will's first novel, Soft Apocalypse is forthcoming this April and a second book, Deadland, is in the works.
Thanks for joining us, Will!
Tell us about Soft Apocalypse.
Soft Apocalypse is about a group of regular people dealing (or not dealing) with the slow collapse of civilization. I tried to imagine how some of the people I know would deal with the sorts of horrific events that would occur in a collapse, and I even based some of the characters on people I know (with their permission). It’s my first novel, based on a short story I published in Interzone in 2005. It’s also based on my interest in current economic, sociological, and political conditions in the world. On my less optimistic days I think the chances of such a collapse are decent.
Part of the appeal of this book is that it's about ordinary people who don't even realize at first that the world is ending. Where did that idea come from?
I was striving to create believable reactions in my characters. As a social psychologist I’ve read about people’s capacity to rationalize, and my guess is that, faced with the prospect of things getting worse and worse until everything collapsed, people would choose to believe things were going to turn around any day. We have a staggering capacity to see what we want to see in the world.
You recently won a Hugo Award. Tell us a little bit about "Bridesicle", and why you think it was so successful.
Yeah, that was a real shock. I look at that Hugo and just can’t believe it’s really there. Bridesicle is about a woman who is reanimated after her death and learns she’s at a dating center, and her only hope of being healed and permanently revived is if one of the men decides to pay for it so he can date/marry her. Maybe it resonated with readers because it’s such a horrifying situation, yet it’s relatively easy to imagine yourself in the protagonists’ place. I have a terrible phobia of anesthesia, of being unconscious and unable to wake up when I choose, and this story reflects that phobia. Maybe a lot of people share my fear.
You wrote this book while holding a day job and raising a pair of twins. How?
At times in those early days after the twins were born I was so sleep-deprived I was sure I was writing an incoherent disaster. It was hard to lose much of my writing time when Hannah and Miles were born, and my productivity is maybe 1/3 of what it used to be. I write during almost all of my free time. We have a sitter who comes for four hours on Saturdays, and I write from the moment she arrives until the moment she leaves. My best opportunity to write, though, is during the 3 months of summer. My academic job is a 9-month per year contract, but the childcare center at the university goes all year, so for 3 months I can write from 9-4. Those days are just heaven. Not that my kids aren’t wonderful, but it’s nice to get some big blocks of writing time!