Saturday, December 24, 2022

Five novels with lessons to turn a post-apocalyptic story into a thriller

Pedro Hoffmeister is the author of the critically acclaimed novels American Afterlife, Too Shattered For Mending, This Is The Part Where You Laugh, Graphic The Valley, and others.

At CrimeReads he tagged five novels he read and studied to learn how to write a post-apocalyptic thriller, including:
The Dog Stars by Peter Heller

Then I went a different direction, away from thriller. I’d already read Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven (which I loved), and I’d heard that Heller’s similar novel was an even better book. (Strange side note I discovered through research: both post-apocalyptic airport novels were edited by the same editor at Random House and in the exact same year.)

So I analyzed the post-apocalyptic elements, comparing my draft to both Station Eleven and to Heller’s The Dog Stars. I discovered that Heller’s post-plague novel is the perfect example of a book where a flawed character becomes the reader’s favorite. I read this book twice as well, wanting to know how Heller makes the reader love both Hig and Bangley, how Heller makes abrasive and imperfect people into the readers’ favorite characters.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Dog Stars is among Lorna Wallace's eleven best dogs in post-apocalyptic books and films and Siobhan Adcock's six crime novels that explore the experience of veterans.

--Marshal Zeringue