“I wanted the reader to know that not all is lost. And then show, within the story, what was worth saving.”
On his new book The Passage
“There’s a little bit of Iowa in everything I write.”
First let’s look at the numbers behind Justin Cronin’s new book The Passage about a vampirepocalypse.
Justin Cronin’s age: 47
Pages of his new book The Passage: 766
Price paid by Ballantine Books for trilogy: $3.75 million
Price director Ridley Scott’s production company paid for rights: $1.75 million
Odds that Cronin will return to being a college English teacher any time soon: 0%
Before you think Cronin got lucky, realize that he is a graduate of both Harvard and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. That’s a couple hundred grand worth of the finest education in the history of civilization.
He’s had many short stories published, some novellas and two serious literary novels (The Summer Guest and Mary and O’Neil). He’s won a PEN/Hemingway award and The Stephen Crane Prize.
Stephen King said of The Passage , “Read fifteen pages and you will find yourself captivated…”
I only needed to read the first sentence before I was captivated;
“Before she became the Girl from Nowhere—the One Who Walked In, the First and Last and Only, who lived a thousand years—she was just a little girl in Iowa, named Amy, Amy Harper Ballafonte.”
Somehow it’s reassuring to know, that in the future, the girl who sets out to save the world was born in Iowa. Yes, it is another vampire book but this week on Iowa Public Radio’s The Exchange Cronin told the host Ben Kieffer why his vampires are not like the sexy ones in the Twilight series, “The thing about the vampire story is that’s it’s really good soft clay and you can really do what you want with it. And you have to also…The handsome debonair underwear model vampire has been done.”
The book was released last week and it’s been called the hot book of the summer. Cronin was back in Iowa City Tuesday to read from his book and sign copies at Prairie Lights. While on The Exchange radio show he mentioned his affinity for Iowa. Though he had lived in New England, Hawaii and California before he moved to Iowa to attend the Iowa Writers Workshop he said, “I just fell in love with the place.,,I thought (Iowa City) was the best town I’d ever lived in. (Iowa) is beautiful and surprising which is what art is supposed to be, beautiful and surprising.”
I have not read or seen any of The Twilight Saga, and while Cronin’s book sounds like a more literary vampire book, time will tell if his apocalyptic, non-sexy vampires will be as popular. (The book that people really seem to be comparing it to is Stephen King’s The Stand.)
And while vampire stories have been around for at least 200 years, Cronin points out that the subject of immortality has a longer history saying, “You can look at the Garden of Eden as a vampire story.” I can honestly say I’ve never made that connection before. But two things I do know; Cronin is now a very wealthy man, and vampire stories will never die.
Related post: The Juno-Iowa Connection