SNAPSHOT 1: THEM OR US by David Moody

To celebrate the release of my third horror novel, FEVER, I’m running a series of short, snappy blog interviews entitled SNAPSHOTS. In these interviews, I’ll be talking to the writers who have inspired me through the years, focusing on one of their books in particular.

First up is Mr David Moody, no stranger to the blog. Since our first interview back in 2006, Dave has not only been a huge inspiration to my own writing, but a great support too. He has always been very generous with his time, his help and advice about all things publishing related invaluable. I’ve since got to know Dave very well, and it’s an honour to call him a friend.

Today, we’re going to talk about his latest release, THEM OR US.

WS: Hey Dave, thanks for joining us.

DM: You’re welcome! It’s always a pleasure. Thanks for having me!

WS: I’ve been a huge fan of your work from around 2005, when I picked up the Infected Books editions of your classic zombie series, AUTUMN. The AUTUMN series is now a global hit, with a film adaptation starring the late great David Carradine. But you’re perhaps even better known for your HATER books, which tell the story of everyman, Danny McCoyne, and his plight to survive when many of the world’s population become consumed by The Hate. It’s a wonderfully effective premise. Can you tell us a little more about the idea, and where it came from?

DM: 2005… that sounds such a long time ago now… It was a little time after releasing what I thought was the last AUTUMN book (THE HUMAN CONDITION) that I started working on HATER. I seem to always have a few ideas in search of a home bouncing around inside my head, and one of those ideas was the genesis of HATER. I’m an avid watcher of people (that makes me sound like a pervert – I’m not!). I’m fascinated by the way people behave: how we differ from animals, for example; how we so often say one thing and do another; how we like to divide ourselves up from everyone else and put barriers around our own little corner of the world. It was that that got me thinking… we differentiate ourselves from everyone else in so many different ways: age, race, beliefs, sexual orientation, wealth etc. etc. I wondered what would happen if something came along which rendered all those divisions obsolete, and instead sunk a great big split through the middle of the entire human race.

I was struggling to think of what such a divide might be when, in July 2005, London was attacked by a group of suicide bombers. One of the bombers, I subsequently found out, worked as a classroom assistant, teaching kids in a primary school. I found it incredible that someone could go from helping kids develop and learn one week, to heading into the capital with a bomb strapped to his back to kill as many innocent people as possible the next. It was that sudden change – that hidden hatred – which inspired me and which crystallised the idea for HATER.

WS: The first book in the series, HATER, is an international bestseller, and has been optioned for movie. When we can expect to see Danny’s story hit the big screen?

DM: Like most books which get optioned, HATER has languished in development hell for a long time now. It was on the verge of being made – J A Bayona (The Orphanage) was lined up to direct from a script by Glen Mazarra (now the showrunner for THE WALKING DEAD). For various reasons, though, it didn’t happen. I’m pleased to say that we’ve just renegotiated the option deal, so the project is still very much alive with Guillermo del Toro attached to produce. I’m hoping it won’t be long before we see some movement.

WS: For me, this is a story about individuality within a world torn by mobocracy. In the third and final book of the series, THEM OR US, Danny’s struggle to find his own identity reaches fruition. But how much of yourself is in the character of Danny? And when writing the book, were you forced to do a lot of soul searching?

DM: I’ve made no secret of the fact that Danny’s start point in the series was based on circumstances I found myself in during a difficult time in my life. A very small house for a large family, doing a soul destroying job for a poor wage with no obvious way out… it was pretty grim for a while. Thankfully things turned out different for me, and I didn’t end up going down the same dark path as Danny. But having started out from a similar position, while I was writing the books it was difficult not to become Danny to an extent (if that doesn’t sound too wanky and pretentious). I think that was a good thing for the series as a whole. It made the books very difficult to write honestly – for those who haven’t read them, Danny’s forced to make some pretty impossible decisions concerning his wife and kids, and his life becomes a non-stop nightmare – but they were all the better for it. At the risk of slipping into pretentiousness again, writing Danny’s story actually helped me assess aspects of my life. Self-help horror. You’ve gotta love it!

WS: Finally, as both the AUTUMN and HATER series end, what’s next for David Moody?

DM: Considering the fact I’m no longer under contract, I seem to be busier than ever! I’m working on a lot of projects right now – rewrites and reissues of two older novels, two new standalone books and a five book horror/science-fiction series. I’m also working on ISOLATION – an independent horror movie I’m making with Will Wright.

WS: Thanks, Dave!

THEM OR US is available now through Gollancz in the UK and St Martin’s Press in the US. For more details on all of David’s work, visit him online.

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