PW: Hidden River is perhaps a more complex work than its predecessor, Dead I May Well Be. What inspired you to write the book?
Adrian McKinty: Dead was much more of a genre novel than Hidden River. And although Hidden River has thriller elements and mystery elements, for me a major theme of the book was about the possibility of renewal and redemption, and how in the real world when you are presented with a chance to redeem yourself sometimes it's not so simple. It's a book about the mistakes people make and how even the most gifted of individuals can sabotage themselves.
Given all the acclaim for Dead I May Well Be, did you feel pressured to follow it up with a sequel?
I didn't feel pressured at all. Both my U.S. and U.K. publishers have been extraordinarily generous and have allowed me free rein to write whatever I've wanted to. Hidden River is a personal book and has some very dark material floating through it, but both sets of publishers loved it and have strongly supported me and the book
Your protagonist, Alex Lawson, is a functioning heroin addict. Can you discuss the role of addiction in Hidden River?
Perhaps the best thing for me to say is that I have an intimate familiarity with the world of the addict. The image of the useless strung-out drug addict lying in the street or a dingy crack house is false. Most drug users, even hard drug users, have jobs, families, etcetera. They know a crash is coming, but they're trying to stave it off for as long as possible. Some, like Alex in the book, don't even think they have a problem. They think they have attained some kind of mastery over the drug. It's not true of course, and those are the ones who are in for the really big crash eventually.
Much of the action in Hidden River takes place in Colorado. Why there?
I'd lived in New York for seven years and written about New York and I loved it there, but after all that time I really wanted to write about wider aspects of America. I think a lot of British and Irish writers make the mistake of thinking that New York or L.A. is America, when obviously it's not. In Colorado, people speak differently than in the East, the sky is a different color, the light bends round the mountains in a unique and beautiful way. I moved [to Colorado] to get a new perspective, and I think so far it's been very fruitful.
Have you had movie interest in either novel?
Dead has been optioned. I can't say too much about it, but things seem to be rolling along very nicely and hopefully there'll be a major announcement soon. Hidden River is being looked at by several British and Irish companies.
What else is on your plate?
Well, after Hidden River, there are going to be the two more books about Michael Forsythe [the hero of Dead I May Well Be], and then I don't know. Possibly a sequel to Hidden River, possibly something completely different. At the moment I'm still teaching, but as my literary career seems to be working out, I may have to give up the day job and make writing the day job. And at least to me that's a very exciting prospect indeed.