After reading Three (Legends of the Dustwalker, #1), I was given the opportunity to interview the author, Jay Posey. I was fascinated by the world he created, which differs greatly from the usual zombie apocalypse. (The fact we have a usual is frightening, right?) So, I put together some questions. I knew some of Jay’s answers would be necessarily vague. Three is the beginning of a journey, the introduction to a new world. Still, he was able to offer some fascinating insights to how the story and the world came about.
Kelly Jensen: What can you tell us about the world of Three? It’s so obviously different to our own. Is it a future you envisage, or an alternate reality?
Jay Posey: The world of Three is really more a result of a long series of “What if … and then what if … and then what if …?” type questions. I don’t really think of it as any kind of prediction, but I also think that everything in it is at least possible somewhere down the road. If you look at where technology is today, and some of the crazy and amazing (and terrifying) things people are doing with it, and you add it to the weight of human history, I think you can end up with some very interesting and maybe potentially disturbing scenarios.
KJ: What happened? Why did civilisation all but collapse?
JP: This is a question that I’d prefer to let the books reveal over time, though there will probably always be a few gaps for readers to fill in for themselves.
KJ: Can you elaborate on any of the “what if’s” you wanted to incorporate into your world? I leafed back through my copy of the book, but couldn’t find the passage I wanted to reference. I seem to remember a description of the dust as being motes of electronic matter, though, which led me to suppose the pre-apocalyptic world had a high level of embedded technology.
JP: There are a bunch of them running around in there, but smartdust is definitely an important one. This is just the idea of a vast number of incredibly tiny systems that can all communicate with one another. In a world where connectivity is considered essential to humankind, you can imagine how that idea might get embedded in everything, paint, building materials, whatever, to ensure that no matter where you go, you always have access to the digital world.
The interplay of consciousness and connectedness is another one, though certainly many others have explored that idea well before I ever did. I just wanted to play with that idea a little, of what information security might mean in a world where talented people might be able to have access to your actual brain function. Biobots fit into that to some degree (the idea that it might be cheaper or more effective to just override a living creature’s organic “software” rather than trying to build a robot from scratch) and kind of the opposite of that, using organics to create genetic technology.
And of course humans using technology to enhance their bodies in a variety of ways is another important aspect of the world. I don’t think I really did anything particularly new with any of that, either. It’s just that in that world, people have a lot of options, whether through genetics, orchemicals, or nanotechnology, or good old-fashioned implants.
KJ: Cass is described as ‘chemic’ and has something embedded in her side that I assume helps her metabolize a chemical called quint. Is her enhancement related to the event that changed this world? To whatever created the Weir?
JP: In some ways I guess you could say her enhancement is related, though not directly so. People in the world of the Duskwalker series have access to a number of different ways to augment and enhance their bodies if they so choose. Cass does so through a chemical process, but others have opted to do so through permanent gene work, or through other technological implants. All of those things are connected in some way to the current state of the world.
KJ: What are the Weir?
JP: This is another one I’ll be slowly revealing throughout the series. Though they are essentially cybernetically reanimated humans. Sort of. There’s more to it than that, but that probably captures the gist of it.
KJ: Three is subtitled ‘Legends of the Duskwalker’. Is Three a ‘duskwalker’?
JP: There’s a funny story about that, actually. To answer the question, yes Three is a duskwalker. In the world, it’s generally not safe to be out at night because of the Weir, but there are some particular reasons that Three is able to do so, which are revealed in the book.
When I first started writing this novel, though, it was originally called “Twilighter”, because Three was a guy that could wander around after twilight. But while I was working on it (it took me a long time to finish), some other novel came along that I’m not sure if many people have heard of, but it’s called Twilight, and apparently in some circles it’s kind of a big deal, and there might have been a lot of movies made. So I ended up changing it. Though sometimes I think maybe I should’ve left it as Twilighter and hoped to capitalize on buyer confusion.
KJ: Three’s name is unusual, even by speculative fiction standards. Is that his real name? (You’re not going to answer that one, are you?)
JP: It’s certainly the name he chooses to go by. 🙂
KJ: I noted there were quite a few of the characters’ names began with the letter ‘c’. Was this intentional or accidental?
JP: There was no secret agenda or hidden purpose in the names I chose for characters, at least not in any overarching kind of way. I just gave them names that seemed suitable for who they were.
KJ: Was there a character or type you really wanted to explore when you sat down to write this book/series? Had Three been knocking around your thoughts for a while. Cass or Wren?
JP: The book started from the relationship between Three and Wren. I’d had the seed of that story for a couple of years before I ever found asetting for it that I was happy with. I really wanted to explore that relationship between a man whose way of life demands he remain detached and this fatherless, sensitive boy at the mercy of a very grim and unforgiving world. Both of them are out of place in the world, but in very different ways.
When I sat down to actually start the novel, though, Cass very quickly asserted herself as a crucial third piece to the story, and I think that’s when I finally realized, as sappy as this will sound, that I also wanted to explore this idea of a love story that doesn’t grow out of romance but instead comes from slowly-developed mutual respect and sacrifice.
KJ: Some of your minor characters such as Jackson, jCharles, Mr. Carter and the RushRuin crew were really fascinating. (I don’t’ want to hear more about the Bonefolder, nope.) They obviously have stories of their own. Are you tempted to write something more for them? Do you ever write character snippets or short stories related to your world? If so, where can we find them!
JP: I’ve toyed with the idea of going back and telling some of those stories, though to be honest I wasn’t sure how interested other people would be in reading them. It’s nice to hear someone else might actually like to read them besides just me. I’ve written a few short stories orcharacter pieces in the past to help me flesh out characters and the world they inhabit, but I have to confess that for many of them, their stories only live in my head. At least, for now.
KJ: What can you tell us about the series as a whole? Any hints regarding the greater story?
JP: Well, I’m not sure how much I can say without spoiling things. I’m finishing up Book Two right now, and the series will continue to follow certain established characters, while also introducing a few new ones. The events will continue to build on those that came before. I’m hoping to give people a little more insight into the world with each book, though I also want each to have something unique or distinct about it that sets it apart from the others. I don’t know if that counts as an answer or not. I’m guessing not.
KJ: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. I really enjoyed the novel. It’s a unique take on the ‘zombie apocalypse’ theme. The setting is extremely different, as is the apparent distance from the disaster. This isn’t so much an aftermath novel as a new world adventure. I’m looking forward to reading more!
JP: My pleasure, and thanks so much for reading Three! I’m glad you enjoyed it, and that the lack of hows and whys didn’t frustrate you. 😀 (Or, at least, not enough to make you hate the book.)