Book Talk: "Fun" bestsellers a big switch for Justin Cronin

Thu Nov 1, 2012 7:32am EDT
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By Elaine Lies

TOKYO (Reuters) - Justin Cronin was writing literary fiction when he and his daughter, then eight, dreamed up a vampire trilogy set in a post-apocalyptic world just for fun - until he belatedly realized what they'd put together, and sat down to write.

Cronin said he's still a little astonished by the success of "The Passage," which began the series, and now "The Twelve," which just came out last month, both of which have been bestsellers.

Cronin spoke with Reuters about the book, about writing, and what it was like to make the transition from literary fiction to genre writing.

Q: I hear the inspiration came from your daughter?

A: "The conversations that I had with my daughter were where we assembled the plot together, with only two rules, which were: everything in the story had to be interesting, and it had to have one character with red hair, because she has red hair. I think there are two things that made it work so well. One was that she's my daughter, we have a lot of chemistry, we're close. She's very smart, she's very well-read. She was eight years old at the time, but she was a kid who read a ton that early.

"The other thing that made it work well is that I had no intention of writing these books. We were just having fun. All the inner critics were silent, they had been sent out of the room. We made a great story. My intentions with this were simply to have a good time, and then I looked up and said, oh my God, look what we have. It's fantastic, I'm going to write this."

Q: Did it take a lot of time to go from having fun to actually writing it?

A: "There was almost no gap. We spent three months together doing this, always in motion. I was jogging, and she came on her bike beside me, and we spent an hour doing this. Monday through Friday, something like that. We'd pick up where we left off the day before and just keep kind of spitting it out, trying different ideas and throwing other ideas into the ditch.   Continued...