Chuck Hogan is the co-author, with Guillermo Del Toro, of The Night Eternal, which concludes their best-selling Strain trilogy. He is also the author of Prince of Thieves, recently filmed as The Town.
Q: Now that the Strain Trilogy is finished, is there anything that you would change about it if you were starting again?
A: Not realistically. Books and movies are never finished, only surrendered. There are always things you wish you could insert after the fact, but nothing about the trilogy feels lacking. We had a plan and we executed it, with many unforeseen twists and turns along the way.
Q:What kind of research did you do for the books?
A: Much research. I had never set a book in New York before, for example. That was a lot to learn just to get us up and running. Guillermo seems to know a little bit about everything, and he was able to indulge his interests (as, for example, Mesopotamian architecture). We incorporated lots of details involving biology, morphology, mythology, lots and lots of –ologies. As to the characters, no they are not based on real people, but we certainly do identify with them. One pleasure of working on a trilogy is watching characters warp and grow over time.
Q: People often predict plagues on the scale of the Black Death, devastating the world. In the trilogy, the vampires “infect” humans, and the hero is a doctor from the Centers for Disease Control. What's the message in connecting vampirism with disease?
A: This reflects one of Guillermo's earliest thoughts about the story, that vampirism would be spread like a virus. This prompted us to take an epidemiologist's view of the plague, which contributed to the novels' realism. Disease control, however, is just that: control, not eradication. It is a constant battle, being fought within our bodies and within the body of humanity.
Q: How would you adapt the books for film and, besides yourself, who would be an ideal director for the project?
A: Guillermo has said that he would have to make six movies to get in everything he wanted, which makes a film adaptation unlikely. There are plans for dramatizing the books, though nothing to announce at this time. And naturally he would be spearheading any adaptation.
Q: The supernatural is one of the hottest genres in entertainment right now. What is it about human nature—and, perhaps, the uncertain times in which we are living—that draws people to horror? Why do we like to be scared and what scares you?
A: Dracula appeared at a time of great technological revolution, utilizing telegraphs, typing machines, and blood transfusions. Today we face another great revolution, starting with the powerful wireless devices we carry in our pockets – whose inner workings few of us truly understand. But despite our obsession with staying connected and informed, we are still vulnerable to our fates and our nightmares.
Q: What was the best and the worst things about writing the Strain Trilogy? For many people, writing is a full-time job. How did you juggle the books with your movies and other projects?
A: The best thing about it for me was to immerse myself in a genre I'd always loved to read. I know Guillermo appreciated the freedom of prose, of not having to budget his scenes but instead to let his creativity flow. As co-writers, we are essentially writing half a novel over the course of a year or so, which actually isn't that onerous. Like anything worth devoting time to, it is both hard work and great fun.
Q:Neil Stephenson said he used a spreadsheet, when writing Reamde, to keep track of all the layers. How did you keep the characters and events straight and flowing smoothly while writing the three volumes of The Strain?
A: Guillermo has a better mind for that than I do. I don't even know how to make a spreadsheet, but I certainly relied on lists and many pages of notes. Anything you can do to stay organized and free up the creative side of your brain is a good thing.
The Night Eternal is out now.
Previously at BB: The Strain