Two Halves Make a Whole

I’ve told you a lot about it, but I don’t think I’ve properly explained why I’ve been writing a second HATER trilogy. Is it a cynical cash in? A cheap way to drum up interest in my books again after a quiet couple of years? The answer to both those questions is a very definite ‘no’.

The new trilogy has its roots in some of the many movie-related discussions I’ve had about the books over the years. On numerous occasions, producer Ed Barratt and I have talked about TV adaptations (and we came tantalisingly close to getting that off the ground at the turn of this year but, as is so often the way, our plans unravelled at the last moment). Ed and I discussed the issues we’d face trying to translate HATER, DOG BLOOD and THEM OR US to the small screen. Part of the attraction of the books is the fact they focus exclusively on one man’s story, but the more I thought about it, the more I realised that this relatively narrow approach might present problems from a theatrical point of view.

One of the recurring themes of the series is ‘who is the bad guy?’. When the outbreak (or whatever it is) begins in HATER, the natural assumption is that the Haters are the villains. But, for various reasons, we later start to question that assumption, particularly when the extent of the actions taken by the Unchanged to keep themselves safe is revealed. It’s clear that both sides are capable of doing whatever they have to do to survive, and this comes to a head at the end of DOG BLOOD. I’ll be vague in case you’ve not yet read the books (come on, keep up!), but a pretty unspeakable act is carried out by someone. It’s particularly shocking, because that act has huge ramifications for both sides and every surviving individual, Hater and Unchanged alike.

So that got me thinking, are the Unchanged as innocent as I initially thought? Are the Haters as evil and ferocious as they appear? Do the lines ever blur? Are there weaker Haters and stronger Unchanged? How clear is the distinction between the two?

I re-read the original trilogy, and started to think more about the situations Danny McCoyne is faced with. How did the refugee camp in DOG BLOOD come into existence? How did a group of Unchanged manage to survive deep in Hater territory? What happened to the Haters who didn’t want to fight? What happened to the Unchanged who didn’t want to run?I started filling in the gaps – working out what had happened off the page – and the more I thought about these questions, the more the structure of the second trilogy started to take shape.

Hater (Thomas Dunne Books, 2009)One of the early reviews I’ve read for ONE OF US WILL BE DEAD BY MORNING calls the book a side-equal, and I think that’s a perfect description. As I showed in the graphic I shared recently, the new novel takes place at the same time as HATER, and it introduces new characters who we’ll follow (if they survive!) through books four, five and six. What these new books do, hopefully, is show the other side of the story. Hence the title of this post – two halves make a whole.

Right now I’m tidying up book two (five) THE OTHER HALF and getting ready to send it over to my editor. Writing it has been an eye-opening experience, particularly in view of everything that’s happening in our increasingly divided world today. From the moment HATER was first released independently back in 2006, people have talked about how socially relevant the book sometimes feels. It’s frightening that that relevance seems to increase year on year. Bizarrely, HATER has been taught on university courses and has been the subject of academic papers too, so there must be something in that. I’m just hoping I can get the second trilogy written and published before the human race really does tear itself apart!

ONE OF US WILL BE DEAD BY MORNING is out on 5 December from Thomas Dunne Books, and it’s available for pre-order now. Please check back here regularly for a couple of impending giveaways and competitions. Also, in answer to a question I’ve been asked a number of times, signed copies will be available to order from this site and www.infectedbooks.co.uk in the near future.

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