I’ve been happily tagged in this Next Big Thing self-interview series by the wonderful Maggie Smith. (Not to be confused with this Maggie Smith.)

What is the working title of your manuscript?


Collapse, Collapse. Or maybe, Radiation King.

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What genre does it fall under?

Poetry (Unless you’re an agent: then it’s a novel).

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I’ve been interested in science my entire life, but in the last few years I have read several books on quantum physics, The Age of Entanglement by Louisa Gilder perhaps being the best. Also works on civil defense and the cold war, Survival City,  The Nuclear Family Vacation, that sort of thing.

100 Suns, where photography met chain reactions.

These guys.

My fascination with apocalyptic literature, movies, and fashion. (Googled it on a lark. I guess it’s a real thing.)

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?


It is a book of poems, and by finishing this sentence, you are legally required to buy it.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?


Four years, well maybe eight, but it isn’t finished, so…

Who or what inspired you to write it?


Growing up close to a nuclear power plant. Growing up during the 80s with Reagan and Gorbachev and the nuclear arms race. The final scene in this Twilight Zone episode, “A Little Peace and Quiet,” which has haunted me my entire life.

Playing this game, perhaps way too much.

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Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Neither, though if an agent is interested, call me. I’ll make you the best Manhattan you’ve ever had to celebrate the partnership. It’s a novel. Really.

What other works would you compare this book to within your genre?

Quiver, Susan B.A. Somers-Willet

Our Lady of the Ruins, Traci Brimhall

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Kenneth Branagh

Don Cheadle

Paul Dano

Idris Elba

Fionnula Flanagan

Maggie Gyllenhaal

Richard Jenkins

Scarlett Johansson

Chloë Grace Moretz

Guy Pearce

Julia Stiles

I’ll let them play whatever characters they want. Or they can all just come over for cocktails and we can read poems to each other.

What else about your manuscript might pique the reader’s interest?

If you read the book backwards you get a recipe for a really ripping lentil soup.*

Remember to Duck and Cover, everyone.

*With apologies to Paul McCartney and The Simpsons

jmgray