Apocalypse All the Time by David S. Atkinson
- Can you describe what your book is about in one sentence?
Marshall is sick of the apocalypse happening all the time and is going to do something about it.
- What is the theme of Apocalypse All the Time?
Humanity’s continual obsession with the end of the world.
- How do you develop your plots and characters?
It’s always different for each different thing I write, but for this one I had a general idea of what was going to happen and set some general characters down within that. As they started moving around in that framework, they defined both where the story went from there and who they were. It was interactive, in a way.
- What was your favorite part of writing Apocalypse All the Time?
My favorite parts were actually the interludes. They were such a departure from the rest of the book and I wasn’t sure whether or not I could even keep them because they seemed like just plain fun, until I figured out how integral they really were to what was going on. That was quite a revelation for me.
- Give us some insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is special? What are his/her character flaws?
Marshall isn’t any better than anyone else in his world, and doesn’t feel the need to be. He hastalents for creation and design, but circumstances frustrate those. The biggest difference for him is the accident of nature that makes him one of the few actually examining the world around him, seeing instead of just looking. Of course, the same could be said for Bonnie, if not more so. Marshall would be the first to admit that.
- If you could spend time with a character from your book, which character would it be? And what would you do during that day?
Malcolm. No question about it, Malcolm. He could make all kinds of things happen for me, most of which would likely be classified…so you’ll have to be satisfied with just that as my answer.
- Tell us about the conflict in this book. What is at stake for your characters?
The conflict is literally the characters pitted against the nature of their world in an attempt to make their lives have some kind of meaning…so what’s at stake is everything.
- What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating Apocalypse all the Time?
The most surprising thing I learned while writing this book was just how many different apocalypse predictions there have been over time. I thought there had been a ton, but I only knew about a handful. I found a site at one point that listed hundreds and hundreds. Remember “The Boy Who Cried Wolf?” Yeah, don’t believe it. We’ll never learn no matter how many times someone cries, though someday the world does have to actually end. Maybe that’s why.
- How do you choose which genre to write in?
For me, the story determines everything. I don’t set out to write in anything particular, but only one thing is going to work with what has popped into my head. The story gets to decide it all and I just go along for the ride.
- What makes your book different from other books in your genre?
Most books take the apocalypse very seriously. There are a few that take it humorously, but they’re humorous about their humor. I think there’s nothing more serious than humor, and that approach makes all the difference in this book. Humor is serious business.
- Of all the characters you have created, which is your favorite and why?
The narrator of the interludes in this book is one of my all time favorites. He’s so silly, in a serious way, that it was just delightful writing for him.
- Tell us about your background. What made you decide to pursue writing?
I don’t remember a time when I didn’t think of writing as simply something a person does. I’ve written a lot of different things over the years and drifted around between some very different areas, but writing still encompassed everything. I guess I just follow where the writing goes, whether that’s through a formal degree program or not, through literary fiction or various genres, or whatever. I just keep following.
- What is your writing process?
My answer to process is a lot like my answer to genre. Everything I write needs to be handled in a different way. If I don’t listen to that, or can’t manage to hear what the project is telling me, it doesn’t get finished. The first draft of this actually got written about 1000-3000 words at a time, every single day, all within a month as part of Nanowrimo. That was just the first draft and the many, many revisions and reworks were much more sporadic and time consuming, but that’s the way it went. Very different from the way I work even most of the time.
- Tell us about the challenges of getting your book published. How did it come about?
I’d been chatting with my publisher from Not Quite so Stories and she actually asked to have a look. Everything fell into place from there. Maybe she was fond enough of Not Quite so Stories to be willing to take a look based on that alone, or maybe I got a really solid elevator pitch together. What’s important is that she loved the book when she did take a look. No foot in the door is any good if the book can’t make a good impression once someone opens it.
- What is your favorite genre to read?
I read all kinds of different books. Literary, bizarre, science fiction, fantasy, classics, I like to wander around. I don’t like to read too much of the same thing for too long. I think we can get into a rut too easily as readers.
- Do you have a day job in addition to being a writer? If so, what do you do during the day?
I’m a patent attorney. Given the demands of the practice of law, that’s not always just a day job. Sometimes you don’t have to go in every single day, but plenty of times there’s going to be night and weekend hours in there too. We stay busy, which I think speaks highly of the kind of
- What motivates you to write?
Much of the time, I get so charged up about an idea that I’m starting to write it before I completely realize what’s happening. There’s a voluntary aspect to it, but that usually comes after I’ve already begun. Maybe it’s just manic parts of myself, or too much coffee, but something charges me up and carries me into it for a ways before I need to walk on my own. That’s when the slog, and the actually work part of writing, begins.
- Why did you write Apocalypse all the Time?
Because no one else had yet and I couldn’t just go out and get a copy to read.
- Who did you write Apocalypse all the Time for (audience)?
I wrote it for anyone who has ever been skeptical about an apocalypse announcement. There’s an incredible instinct to credit them simply because we know that the world must someday come to an end. In the face of that, some people can’t forget that the eventuality doesn’t mean that the one in front of us is particularly probable, and things do tend to manage a way to go on. In short, I wrote it for people who think it’s better to talk seriously about a problem rather than jump straight to doomsday.
- Where can we find you online?
- What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Write. You’ll have to figure out what works for you beyond that, but write and you’ll get where you need to be eventually.
- What are the most important elements of good writing? According to you, what tools are must-haves for writers?
I maintain the most important element is the ability to keep writing. Everything else can be fixed given long enough at it, but if there’s no writing then there’s nothing to be fixed to the point that it can be sent out into the world.
- What question have you always wanted to be asked in an interview? How would you answer that question?
A good one seems to be “would you please accept this MacArthur Fellowship?” I’d certainly feel inclined to answer in the affirmative, should it ever some up.
- Any last thoughts?
This question strikes me as funny, given the subject of the book. “Last thoughts” would seem particularly inappropriate for Apocalypse All the Time.