Spend Time With Blake Crouch
It’s Not Wayward Pines, It’s “Dark Matter”
Interview by Suspense Magazine
Bestselling author Blake Crouch returns with a book outside of his popular Wayward Pines series called “Dark Matter.” Blake felt that this story needed to be told and didn’t just want to put out another Wayward Pines book; he wanted to give his fans something different. We remember talking to Blake for the first time with his standalone book “Run.” At that time, we knew that he was looking at an impressive career in this crazy business. And then he hit a home run with “Pines” and the rest is history.
Blake Crouch has sold over a million books and his work has been translated into more than twenty languages. Known for high-concept fiction with breakneck pacing and groundbreaking genre cross-breeding, six of his books have hit the Kindle Top 10, and two have reached the #1 spot. His short fiction has appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies, including Alfred Hitchcock, Ellery Queen, Cemetery Dance, and “Thriller 2.”
In 2013, his novel “Pines” was nominated for ITW’s Best Paperback Original Thriller Award, and his Wayward Pines series has been made into a TV series which is currently airing on Fox International Channels, directed by M. Night Shyamalan and starring Matt Dillon, Juliette Lewis, Melissa Leo and Terrence Howard. He has been featured in Time, the L.A. Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Entertainment Weekly. Blake lives in Colorado.
Let’s take a quick look inside his latest book, “Dark Matter,” and then you’ll hear from Blake himself in our interview below.
“Are you happy with your life?”
Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious.
Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits.
Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”
In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.
Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.
Suspense Magazine (S. MAG.): Talk about the launch of your two television series: Wayward Pines (FOX, Season 2) and Good Behavior (TNT).
Blake Crouch (B.C.): It has been a crazy year! Wayward Pines and Good Behavior both went into production on their respective seasons in the spring of 2016. Wayward Pines premiered in late May this year, and Good Behavior will premiere in the fall. They are very different shows. Wayward Pines is high concept, science-based, summer entertainment. Good Behavior is a kind of female Breaking Bad, a lo-fi crime drama about a thief and addict (played by Michelle Dockery) where the character of Letty IS the concept.
S.MAG.: What sparked the idea for “Dark Matter”?
B.C.: I’ve been wanting to write about quantum mechanics for almost a decade. It’s been a slowly building obsession of mine, but I was always afraid of the high challenge bar associated with the research, and of making a very dense, incomprehensible field of science into the engine of a science fiction thriller. I guess I finally just psyched myself up to do it.
S.MAG.: Memory is a recurring theme in your work. Why?
B.C.: Hmm. I’ve never really thought about it. I think it must be because memory is, more than anything, the building blocks of our identity. I think memory of good times, or bad, are often the pivotal moments in my characters’ emotional highs or lows.
S.MAG.: What is the difference between a thriller and horror, in relation to your writing?
B.C.: Interesting question. I started out writing horror with novels like “Desert Places” and “Locked Doors.” Not supernatural horror. Situational horror. Characters placed in utterly extreme scenarios that would break a real person. My use of horror has evolved in my writing over the last ten years so that I only use it sparingly now, in the tiniest doses. I look at a thriller as being a metric of pacing, and horror being a metric of how desperate and at the end of their rope a character is. I think the difference comes down to a fairly subtle distinction: trying to survive a harrowing situation (thriller) vs. facing what appears to be certain death (horror).
S.MAG.: You also blend genres well. Is blending genres a good thing for beginning writers to do these days?
B.C.: Thank you! I think the best thing a beginning writer can do is take a big swing with whatever idea has grabbed hold of them. No one should be afraid to cross genres.
S.MAG.: Which comes first for you: concept or character?
B.C.: I’ve created books both ways. I would say more often than not the concept takes hold of me first. For instance, in “Wayward Pines,” I wanted to write about suspended animation and flash mutation set against a creepy, Twin Peaks-style town in Idaho. And the character of Secret Service Agent Ethan Burke formed organically from that premise. In “Dark Matter,” it was all about quantum mechanics, so it seemed natural to me that my protagonist would be a physics professor.
S.MAG.: Do you write what you want to read?
B.C.: 100%. And those are the best moments for me as a writer—when I’m working on a book and a character takes a turn I didn’t see coming. Then it’s like reading a book for the first time. That’s honestly why I do it.
S.MAG.: How do you feel about the state of the publishing industry today?
B.C.: I think it’s never been a better time to be a writer. When I started out, there was only one path for a writer to take and be taken seriously: traditional publishing. Today, there are viable options in independent publishing (through Kobo, ACX, and KDP), traditional publishing, and elsewhere. Having options, from the standpoint of a content creator, is always a positive thing.
S.MAG.: What’s next?
B.C.: I’m planning to start on another novel in the not-too-distant future, but in the meantime, I’m taking a bit of a sabbatical. It has been a busy last two years!
We would like to thank Blake for taking the time to talk with us. We also were able to get him on the radio show, Beyond The Cover, so check that out at: www.blogtalkradio.com/suspensemagazine. For more information on Blake and everything Wayward Pines visit his website at: www.blakecrouch.com. ■