I’ve recently been asked a few questions regarding HPM. I guess they’re basically the standard questions every author is asked; how realistic are the events portrayed in the book? what inspired you to write it?
Let me address the latter question in this post. I’ll get to the realism in another one, later on.
So- my inspiration?
I suppose part of the answer is that I’m just a product of the time in which I grew up. You see, when I was in elementary school, I remember having a lot of safety drills. Of course, everyone probably knows the standard old fire drill. The bell rings in a set pattern, an announcement comes over the loudspeaker, and you’re instructed to line up and calmly walk single-file out to the school parking lot or playground until instructed to come back in. There were also tornado drills, during which we were to line up in the hallways beside the walls, sitting there until the drill was over.
But the drills that made a more lasting impression with me were the air raid drills. Only us old farts will recall the air raid drills during the years of the Vietnam “action”. During those drills, we weren’t marched out of the building to gather in the school’s playground as we were instructed to do during a fire drill. No, when the klaxon sounded for an air raid drill, we were to scramble under our desks as quickly as we could, close our eyes, and cover our heads to protect ourselves from the possibility of flying glass. There was something about the speed at which we were encouraged to “assume the position” that made these drills seem more immediate – more serious.
Obviously, it was a different time, and I guess a certain amount of paranoia may have seeped into those of us who grew up with it. I would liken that paranoia to the fertilization of a field, getting it ready for planting. (Yes, even today I’m often accused of having too much “fertilizer” in my skull.)
But the real inspiration – the actual seed from which the story grew – was a conversation I had with my parents a decade or so later, in my teen years. You see, I was lucky enough to have parents who indulged my often unorthodox interests. Whether I was researching UFOs, Nessie, or Bigfoot, my folks never made fun of me or discouraged my curiosity. They encouraged me to study, and to come up with my own opinions.
So during this particular discussion, we somehow ended up talking about nuclear war and I remember my mom saying something like, “if there is ever a nuclear war, I hope to be standing directly under the first explosion.” And I, in my typical teen-aged, smartass way, thought “but what if you aren’t?” That conversation combined with the old air raid drill mentality, and was the beginning of a long progression of thought that eventually found its way into being as the novel Half Past Midnight.
So, you want to know what inspired me to write HPM? I suppose you could say it grew out of the twisted paranoid delusions of an overactive teenaged mind, tempered with a healthy dose of research, and (hopefully) realistic studies into the subject matter.
And of course, that leads to the other question: how realistic are the events portrayed in the book?
Well, right now it’s late, and this old fart needs to get to bed. Work comes early, so if you really want the answer to that question, I guess you’ll just have to read next week’s post.