Johnny Merrimon, who has a Wolverine-like ability to heal himself, returns in Hart’s sequel to 2009’s The Last Child.
Writers get a lot of questions, and we all have our favorites: “How did you break in?” “How has your life changed?” We love these questions because they are personal, substantial, and because we are likely to have answers. We are asked unpleasant questions, too, and one of my least favorites is this: “Where do you get your ideas?” Usually, I prevaricate, not from a lack of goodwill, but because I may as well have been asked how it feels to walk on the moon. A few writers might disagree, but even those who follow an outline will likely admit the fuzzy nature of original conceit.
I don’t write from an outline, but organically, instinctively. Many of us use this method, though we describe it differently. Andre Dubus speaks of driving with headlights on a dark and fogbound road. Others claim to know the destination but not the route that will get them there. The method has its pitfalls, but also its joys. Every day is an adventure, every decision a step into the unknown.
When, years ago, I wrote The Last Child, I felt my way along that fogbound road and found, at the end, a novel that sold well, won awards, and satisfied me on every level. Score one for instinctive writing. Following that same instinct, I ended the book with small questions that not all readers would catch, subtle twists hinting at the unknowable. I guess some part of me knew I’d write a sequel.
The Hush takes place 10 years after The Last Child, a sequel that is also a standalone. Remarkably, shockingly, I knew the story from page one—I had the idea. Not just a thriller, I thought, but a full-throated embrace of the magical realism implicit in the final pages of its predecessor, The Last Child. And what fun it’s been—not just the chance to revisit characters as dear as old friends, but the opportunity to push the boundaries, to grow, to write something entirely new.
Ten years have passed since we first met Johnny Merrimon and Jack Cross, but the bond between them remains: what they shared and what they lost, a past they can’t forget. Long-withdrawn and still infamous, Johnny lives alone on once-sacred land known for its vastness and violent history. Though men were killed there years ago, only Jack senses the current danger, the darker intent, the changes in his friend. There are the things Johnny can do, the things no man alive should know.
An exploration of friendship, persistence, and forgotten power, The Hush is the most exciting road I’ve taken. No darkness or fog. Just the speed. Just the drive.