THE END IS NOW Author Interview: Hugh Howey

This interview was conducted by Stephanie Loree.

Wool and the entire Silo Saga might be the most well-known apocalyptic fiction out there. What attracts you to this genre?

I love the tension. Stories are powered along by situational tension, and the apocalyptic genre has this in spades. A wrong action or poor decision can mean the end of all of humanity. The stakes can be that high. The Battlestar Galactica reboot nailed this feature of the genre. You truly believed that any episode could see the extinction of humanity. All our fates were in the hands of a small number of people. How can you turn away from that?

How was writing “In the Mountain” different from your other apocalyptic works? Were there any particular challenges you faced in the creative process?

The challenges with this story were similar to “In the Air,” which preceded it. With very few words, I needed to create a character that readers would relate to, a character who is mentioned in the first story but whom we don’t know at all. And then I had to pass the baton along to the final set of characters in this little trilogy. I think when readers see how these three stories fit together, and the massive impact their decisions make on the characters from Wool, they are going to be absolutely shocked. In fact, I think many readers will be angry. I don’t take delight in that, but this is how the story needs to go.

What other stories of the apocalypse have inspired you?

One of my favorite novels as a kid was Lucifer’s Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. It was the first work of science fiction I read that I truly believed. The details and the research into a meteor impact blew me away. I still think about those characters from time to time. I was also a massive Akira geek growing up. I think it’s the reason I’ve owned so many motorcycles over the years.

“In the Mountain” reveals to us some of the Silo’s eventual secrets, yet you balanced the need for intrigue without giving away too many spoilers. Was this a concern for you while writing? How did you manage it?

This is always a concern. The challenge is to write a story that fans of the series will appreciate but that those new to the works can easily follow. I have to read the story twice, once from each perspective, to see if the plot makes sense for the new readers while adding something for the existing readers. It’s a bit of a puzzle.

Can you tell us about any upcoming projects? What can Hugh Howey fans expect?

I have a lot going on right now. Before the end of 2014, my first children’s picture book will come out, my first romance novel, and the last issues of the Wool comic book adaptation. Along with this anthology, it’s been a busy second half of the year for me. The good thing is this: None of these works are going to disappear, so there’s plenty of time for them to be discovered and enjoyed. Fans don’t have to feel any pressure to pick things up as they come out (or to pick them up at all). I’m just working at a pace that keeps me happy and entertained. I’ll take a break after the world ends.