If you missed it yesterday, and you’d like a little context, go back and read JR’s review of The Postmortal. Here’s his chat with Drew Magary:

JR: The Postmortal, where did you get the idea to write this novel? Did it start out as one small idea, and the more you rolled it around the bigger it got?

DM: It was me pondering the idea of a “cure for death” and the irony that if we cured death, we’d all end up killing each other. Then the book was an exercise in how precisely that would happen.

JR: Where do you stand on the idea that we’ve reached peak oil, and that it will be all gone in fifty years? Besides the obvious global meltdown this will trigger, what else do you see happening? Can we live in a world without oil? Can we prepare for it?

DM: Well, that’s just it. We can prepare all we want for a world without oil, but we won’t really be fully prepared until it’s gone. We haven’t truly been forced to adjust yet, so we haven’t. At some point, the hammer will drop and we’ll all have to drive plug-ins whether we care to or not. That’s my gut. I don’t think someone will save us by figuring out cold fusion. We have to make do with what we have.

JR: Your hero isn’t a guy you can root for. Were you trying to play him as victim and a bit of an asshole? His not wanting to be a father, for no real reason, struck me as very harsh. When shaping John did you think “jeez…this is a guy you have to root for, I better take some time and make people like him.”

DM: No, I just wanted to make him human, and emblematic of the mistakes we’d make as a species. He isn’t supposed to be a paragon of virtue.

JR: You paint a very realistic and almost palpable future to a world where aging has been removed from life. What is so different about what you’ve written here, and where the human race stands…population wise, right now?

DM: Not much, it’s just accelerated. We’re already overpopulated. In some ways, this feels a bit dystopian. Someone from forty years ago who time traveled here would be like, “Christ, this is fucked.”

JR: I really enjoyed your hard-edged descriptions of technology (just because it can be invented, doesn’t mean it should, you seem to be saying), electric cars and airplanes, and how a simple science experiement unleahses a truly hellish discovery. I’m wondering it you see technology in the same way? Will it get away from us and take over? Or will technology reach its peak, crash and burn, and we’re all living the PD James novel Children of Men.

DM: Obviously, the book itself is fairly pessimistic, but that doesn’t mean I necessarily feel the same way. The book is meant to be a nightmare. Maybe we would find a way to manage a population that doesn’t age, but that wasn’t where the idea took me. The idea took me right to the shitter. FUN!

JR: From an unpublished writers point of view, how hard was it to sell this novel? What was the road to publication like?

DM: Hard. I had a book published before, but no publisher gave a crap because this was a totally different book. 18 editors passe before Penguin took mercy on me. When I visited their building this fall, the editor was like, “We read 8,000 manuscripts last year and bought six,” and I was like JESUS DON’T TELL ME THAT.

JR: What’s next for you?

DM: Another novel. I wanted to sell enough of this to never write another, but it didn’t work out that way. No ski lodge in Lake Como for me yet.

JR: What are the top five novelists you can’t live without, and the top five songs that get you through the day. Do you love Zadie Smith as much as I do?

DM: I don’t have novelists that I swear by. I was really into Catch-22 as a kid, but I also loved the Harry Potter books. I like anything that’s readable. Anything that doesn’t feel like agony to scan through, I’m on it. Song wise, I refer you to this:


JR: Thanks Drew.

DM: Sure thing.