A. G. Riddle has used the pandemic to write a new bestseller, The Extinction Trials.
You have been kind of radio silent the last two years. You’ve written The Extinction Trails during this particular time, especially 2020. I don’t want to spoiler too much, but I have to ask: Did the pandemic contribute to your bleak vision for mankinds future, and was SARS-CoV 2 like a role model for the Genesis virus?
The effects of the pandemic likely impacted my writing (although, I actually started planning–and drafting–The Extinction Trials about a year before the pandemic began). Early in the book, the characters are trapped in an underground research facility, and are desperate to get out and see the world again. I think we’ve all probably felt like that to some degree over the past few years.
There are books within this book, and I’m curious about one of them – the Birthright. It reads a little like a self help book for people fighting depression. Was this the intention behind that? Does this book really exist (in some way or another), or is it maybe based on your personal experience?
The Birthright is something I created for one of my earlier books (The Solar War). I had intended for it to be a psychology book that helped the characters understand what they were going through.
Birthright is the book Owen received from his mother, so let’s talk about him. He has what his parents called his limitation, but he also seems to have a peculiar working mind. So I’m kind of wondering – is Owen based on a person with a mild case of Asperger’s Syndrome?
Yes. I would characterize his limitation as a form of functional blindness commonly referred to as social-emotional agnosia (which often occurs in individuals with Asperger’s).
I want to back a step to the Genesis Virus. Despite being a great fan of the rock prog band, I’m sure where talking about the biblical Genesis here, which means something from nothing. One of the typical characteristics is that it erases the memory of the infected. Is that intentional? Because from nothing (a blank memory) the infected have to build something (a new life)?
Yes! Absolutely intentional.
I am also a big fan of Genesis (and Phil Collins).
Absolutely! If we’re staying with the bible a moment longer – something that’s playing a very important role in The Extinction Trials is Garden station. Did you think of Eden when you gave it that name?
Short and sweet, I like that! While reading, I had the feeling that despite the world around our group being quite hostile, the greatest enemies they faced where either other humans or the group itself. Thomas Hobbes once quoted Plautus when he wrote HOMO HOMINI LUPUS, “Man is wolf to man”. For me, that was my personal take away from this story. Is there anything you would like to stress about this book in case the readers don’t catch onto it?
That’s one of the things I hoped readers would take away from the book. I think it’s easy to see humanity’s struggle on Earth as a war against our environment (or external threats), but I feel the true challenge is mastering our own minds and finding a way to co-exist, understand each other, and build a better society that is fair and rewarding for everyone.
Again, I’m trying not to spoiler too much here, but I had the feeling that The Change carries a 1984 vibe. Did you think about Big Brother when you designed the mesh?
I did. I think if we’re not careful, life will imitate art.
Final question: What’s your favorite drink or cocktail (if you have any)?
I typically drink scotch, single malt, with ice (Balvenie and Glenmorangie are my go-tos at home).
Glenmorangie is one my favourites,too, especially the Quinta Ruban! And of course Benromach 15y. Thank you for your time!
Enjoying a single malt the Old Fashioned way
There are many ways to enjoy a single malt. Drink it how you like it, even on the rocks. 😉
Or you might want to try one of the oldest cocktails in the world, the Old Fashioned (Scotch version):
- 6 cl single malt (unpeated)
- 2 cl sugar syrup
- 3 dashes cocoa bitter
- ice cubes
Put everything into a tumbler, stir and enjoy!