THE END IS NIGH Author Interview: Sarah Langan

Tell us a bit about your story.  What’s it about?

“Love Perverts” is the origin story for a young adult series I’ve been working on, about the fate of the human race thousands of years from now. By secret, I mean secret. Like, in my closet at night after the rest of the family is in bed.

What was the genesis of the story—what was the inspiration for it, or what prompted you to write it?

I lucked into this antho—I’d been wanting the excuse to world-build my series for a long time. I finally got the chance to think through the whys and the hows of the end times that lead to the post-apocalypse in my series. What I liked writing about “Love Perverts” is the idea that survivors aren’t necessarily the nicest people. In fact, they’re probably pretty cut-throat bastards. So why not tell the story from the vantage of the kinds of people who figure that out? People who wonder what survival means, and at what cost. And if they survive, who are they going to get stuck surviving with?

Was this story a particularly challenging one to write? If so, how?

I enjoyed writing this story a lot. I guess my biggest concern is my depiction of a gay teen. I had to imagine my way in, which is fine and part of my job. But it’s smart, when you’re doing something like that, to make your character especially “good.” My guy has violent fantasies linked in some cases to sex. So, he’s not good. But he’s true, which is more important.

Most authors say all their stories are personal.  If that’s true for you, in what way was this story personal to you?

I think a lot about the choices I make now, and how they affect my children—their futures. I was watching the latest season of Walking Dead and an insight occurred to me: it’s less about survival now, and more about the realization we adults are having, that the world we’re giving our children is less stable than the one we inherited. Carl Junior must be better and tougher than his father to survive. Party’s over!

I’m casting about much like Rick, trying to figure out how to prepare my kids for that. Not the apocalypse, obviously. But for a world in which jobs aren’t stable, public education is failing and not inclusive, and climate change will affect property values, crops, and stuff we now take for granted, like train schedules. Money is king, and because of that, we worship rich people now more than ever. Forget universal health care—at this point, most of us would be happy to have family doctors who return phone calls and remember our names. That’s pretty bad.

What kind of research did you have to do for the story?

I did a perfunctory study of asteroids. So, sorry if the science is terrible!

What is the appeal—either as a writer or a reader—of stories that take place BEFORE an apocalypse?

I think pre-apocalyptic stories serve as warnings. We’re thinking through the possibilities and hopefully devising ways to avoid disaster.

What are some of your favorite examples of pre-apocalyptic fiction, and what makes them your favorites?

Random Acts of Senseless Violence, by Jack Womack. I want to shake that man’s hand.