RACHEL MARTIN, HOST: Novelist Joe Hill has a pronouncement to make.--Marshal Zeringue
JOE HILL: The world is really divided into two kinds of people - people who adore plague novels and wimps.
MARTIN: Joe Hill's newest apocalyptic plague novel puts me firmly in the first camp. Here's the premise. A highly contagious pathogen is burning across the country. It's known as Dragonscale for the lovely black and gold marks that appear on your body. Eventually, though, you'll burst into flames.
The heroine of the book is a school nurse named Harper who is infected and pregnant. She is determined, however, to survive her pregnancy. And she knows there's a chance the baby will be born healthy. I ask Joe what it was about Harper that hooked him.
HILL: You know, I'm not sure exactly why I settled on her. I know I wanted to write about pregnancy. I do think it's kind of interesting, the idea of a life forming inside you and hijacking your body's biology to serve its own ends. And when I began to think about the Dragonscale as this kind of living organism painted on your skin that's making use of your biology, I saw a connection to that.
So I sort of wanted to explore almost the way this one woman's body has become a battleground between two opposing forces. The other thing is is Harper is very sunny and optimistic. And so many end of the world stories are grim and bleak, which is totally understandable 'cause it's sort of a grim subject.
But I like the idea of this plague as an unstoppable force pouring over the nation. And I sort of had this picture of Harper as...[read on]