Boudinot takes readers on a frenzied trip through a hypernetworked future after an apocalypse in Blueprints of the Afterlife .
How do you hope readers will react to your vision of the future?
I hope readers will find all kinds of pleasure in it. I wanted it to be entertaining, in the sense that readers won’t want to put it down, but I also wanted to take on some complex themes.
Such as the evolving relationship between man, technology, and nature?
Right. After Misconception, which was tightly focused on two characters, I wanted to write something larger in scope. I’m interested in the purposes of technology, its evolution, and what this means for the future of the human race. And what’s the human race really for? I kept returning to this idea that the purpose of human life is to spread life beyond our star. But as I wrote, I started to pick away at that idea. I tried to maintain a sense of skepticism.
Recorded interviews with Luke Piper, a witness to the events that precipitate the apocalypse, are interspersed throughout the narrative. Speaking of skepticism, do you know who Luke’s interviewer is?
I don’t want to know. I thought of that entity as “the voice of reason.”
Characters in the novel can’t trust their own perceptions of reality, and you seem to enjoy jolting the reader into sharing their bewilderment.
I didn’t want everything to be explainable in this book. I prefer the suspended state just before a mystery is revealed.
Skinner is a soldier who, like other survivors, has arranged to have his worst experiences “offloaded” from his memory. Tell me about him.
He’s an action hero. Kind of like Marv in Sin City. When writing about Skinner I kept thinking about James Hetfield of Metallica and my maternal grandfather, a decorated WWII veteran who hated war, figures of masculinity like that. I wanted to subvert masculinity and burden Skinner with regrets and haunted memories. I consumed my share of violent entertainment as a kid, and Skinner was a way to challenge and have fun with the tropes of comic books, movies, heavy metal. One way I’m trying to gauge the seriousness of my work is by examining the degree to which I decouple violence and suffering.
For what purpose?
Maybe separating violence from suffering allows us relief from how much it hurts to be an empathic being, yet is also the first step toward exploiting the “other.” I’m still trying to figure this out. I’m interested in how we partition off violence as entertainment, and I’m interested in the spiritual consequences of a culture that celebrates violence.
When you’re writing do you visualize a reader?
Not a specific person. I just hope to make the freaks and weirdoes feel less alone.