Justin Cronin leapt to the top of the crowded field of post-apocalyptic fiction in 2010 with the publication of The Passage, the first in a trilogy. An instant bestseller, the novel imagined a future where mankind has been decimated thanks to a vampire-creating virus.
Six years and more than a thousand pages later, Cronin brings the Passage trilogy to a brilliantly plotted, thrilling conclusion with The City of Mirrors. We asked him a few questions about how it feels to take a series across the finish line.
First of all—congratulations on finishing such an epic trilogy! How did you reward yourself after finishing The City of Mirrors?
A glass of Scotch and a piece of pie. It’s a ritual I always observe. It usually happens at about 3:00 in the morning.
The world of the Passage trilogy has always been a large one, but it expands even more in this book. Was it satisfying to get more of that world out of your head and onto the page?
It was a lot of fun in this novel to go back to Fanning’s college life, which borrows a great deal from my own. I’d wanted to use Harvard as a setting for years, but the occasion hadn’t arisen until now.
You’ve been with most of these characters for a decade. How does it feel to let them go? Was there one in particular that you’ll miss most?
Though Amy stands at the center, the Passage trilogy is an ensemble piece, and I felt close to all the major players, although my affinities differed from character to character at various times. Into Amy I poured a lot of my feelings about being a father, and Wolgast’s love for her really touches me. Carter is the most long-suffering, patient soul I will ever meet, a man full of an incredible decency. Peter’s bravery has an automatic quality I admire intensely; he simply can’t stop himself. Alicia’s struggles both break and mend my heart. It’s odd and rather lonely to say goodbye to these people, like standing on the pier while I watch them sail away.
Has this project and its success changed the way you see yourself as a writer?
As someone who writes sentences all day long, my goals and habits are the same, so to that extent, nothing has changed at all. I go to my office, I think really hard, the world sort of melts away and my fingers begin to move over the keyboard. I write how I write, and that’s always been true and always will be. But success means readers—a lot of them. I’m more aware of my audience now and want them to be happy with the work I do. It also means I don’t have to have a second job, which is a colossal luxury for any artist. Writing can get 100 percent of my attention during the workday.
What’s next for you?
More novels. But maybe first I’ll take a nap.
RELATED CONTENT: Read our review of The City of Mirrors.
This article was originally published in the June 2016 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.