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Author Interview with Scott Sigler

November 4, 2008

I reviewed Scott Sigler’s novel, Infected as part of a round-up of scary books for the Star-Ledger.  I conducted an interview with him via e-mail.
1.  What is the scariest book you’ve ever read?

I’m not sure about the scariest book, but the most scared I’ve ever been reading was when in college. I came home for break and curled up with Stephen King’s “It.” At about midnight, I saw I only had 300 or so pages left so decided to just finish it. That was in the time when local TV concluded their broadcast day at about 1 am, played the national anthem, then went black until 6 am. I was so into the book I didn’t even bother to get up and turn off the TV. So I’m reading the part where Pennywise is diving at the inside of a TV screen, his greasepaint and blood smearing against the inside of the glass, and at that exact moment my black-screen let out a single burst of static. I genuinely thought I had been tricked, and a Pennywise was going to walk around the corner and chomp me. It was real fear, and it sucked.
2.  How old were you when you saw your first scary movie?  How badly did it scare you?
I saw King Kong in 1976 and I screamed like a little girl, asking my dad if we could leave the theater. He just laughed, so I kept on crying. As soon as we got out of the theater, I asked when we could go see it again — and I was still wiping away tears! That’s when I knew I wanted to scare people just like that.
3.  What was the best Halloween costume you ever had?
That’s a tough one. One year I went as the King James Brown bible, wearing a huge leather art portiolio, wig, and screaming at everyone I saw I was the hardest working man in religion. Another great one was painted some cardboard blue, wearing a nylon stocking on my head and going as a Trojan Condom. There are some others I can’t mention here — for me, Halloween has always been an opportunity to make people laugh, as opposed to scaring them.

4.  “Infected” taps into both modern anxieties and classic fears of alien invasion.  What are some of the books and movies that inspired you to write about the plague of blue triangles?

The main inspiration came from parasites, and what they can make hosts do in nature. A parasite can actually make a host commit suicide, short-circuiting the most basic instinct we have — that of survival. I also wanted to let the reader see a monster grow from a single cell into a beastie, with neither the reader nor the infected protagonist knowing what that beastie would look like. I wanted to do that with scientifically sound principles, mimicking processes that actually happen in nature. The disease came first, then the monsters, then I worked around to an invasion plotline.

5. I know “Infected” originated as a Podcast.  How faithful is the novel to the original Podcast?  How does your writing process change, between writing for Podcast format, and setting it down in novel format?

I write the novel first, edit it heavily, re-write and then podcast. The podcast changed the novel, though, because reading it out loud illustrated boring or contrived parts. It also put the spotlight on areas where I was “trying to be a writer” and falling in love with the sound of my own narrative. To me it’s about the story and the reader’s experience, not about flexing the vocabulary. The other thing it did was let me market-test the story on several thousand listeners. That provided small changes that made the story better. Finally, having thousands of fact checkers meant I got detailed explanations about several things I had wrong, and that was wonderful.

And some less spooky questions…

What book have you read more times than any other?  What keeps you coming back?

Jack London is the guy that keeps me coming back. I’ve read The Sea Wolf several times, as well as White Fang and A Dog Named Wolf. What keeps me coming back, and what changed my outlook on life, is London’s “it is what it is” approach to nature. There’s no romanticizing wolves, they either kill and eat, or they starve to death. If you are a caribou, you either run fast, or you are caught and you get eaten. He painted that in nature and let it reflect on his human characters. London strips away all the pretense, literary, religious, romantic, and simply shows life as it really is — a losing battle against death.
What is the last book you stayed up far too late reading?
David Wellington’s “Monster Island.” Read it in one sitting.

What question do you wish interviewers would ask you?

“How often are you mistaken for Brad Pitt?”
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2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 4, 2008 5:17 pm

    Thanks for the interview!

  2. December 1, 2008 4:59 am

    What a fun interview – I laughed out loud with the Halloween costume answer!

    🙂 Wendi

    Your interview has been added to About the Author – An Author Interview Index!

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