Reading the interview I had the unsettling feeling that he stole the kind of thoughts that are churning around in my brain all the time and used them as interview answers, only making them sound smarter than I usually do:
Rig workers work these insane shifts, so there’s a problem with methamphetamine addiction. They can keep going on shifts that run 12 hours, day after day after day. That’s going to break a person. And we live on top of that. The number of injuries and deaths in the natural gas industry are also on us whenever we turn on our gas stoves. I’m really interested in the idea that some of the things we take for granted—things that seem clean and pristine—are connected to long chains of things we don’t see, or don’t want to see.
And it’s this idea that makes his post-apocalyptic worlds seem entirely believable to me, I think, and therefore the stuff of my nightmares:
We tend to think of one story line of collapse, which is essentially the Mad Max version: the world falls apart and everyone is just driving around tearing everybody apart. But that’s just not what poverty looks like. We still are civil creatures, and we do best when we work together. So when I think of societal collapse, I think more in terms of what does it mean if we back off of our wealth and have less of it—but are essentially us in our character.
(But seriously, thank you. You wonder “whether or not kids are experiencing the larger ideas and themes I’m interested in or if they’re only experiencing the thrill ride,” and I wonder the same thing about books like yours or Feed. But I know some of the kids are getting it, because I got it about the books I read when I was a kid and it changed my life. So thank you for telling these stories; we need them more than ever.)