The Silence by Tim Lebbon is out today, and this is how much I loved it. Tim was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about The Silence, and the lovely folks at Titan are offering 2 books to giveaway to 2 lucky US, UK or Canadian winners, so be sure to enter to win below the post!
I loved Coldbrook (loved it) and I’m very excited about your new book, The Silence! What inspired you to write it? Will you give us a bit of a teaser?
Thanks Kristin! I’m very proud of Coldbrook, and for me it was always my Big Apocalyptic Novel. I’m not saying I won’t write another huge scale novel like this again. But when I started thinking about what came next … well, yes, I decided to write an apocalyptic novel again, but this time from a very different point of view. Coldbrook was from several points of view across the globe, and followed the people responsible for beginning and, possibly, combating the event that was destroying the world as we know it. In The Silence there are only two viewpoints, both members of the same family, and I follow them closely. Stuff is happening everywhere, but we only know what the family knows. So events beyond them are only communicated via newscasts and social media (Ally, one of my two main POV characters, is obsessed with her ipad).
In The Silence, a cave shut off from the world for countless years is exposed, and creatures never seen before emerge. They reproduce rapidly, spread quickly, and are voracious hunters. And, blind, they hunt purely by sound. Make a noise and lose your life. Ally is a teenager who’s been deaf since she was very young, and she is used to silence. Her family is also used to communicating by signing. Together they must do what they can to survive when the plague of creatures reaches them. But with chaos and disorder descending, and the population panicking, the hungry creatures are not the only dangers.
Your main character, Ally, is deaf, and she uses her other senses to experience the world around her. What kind of research did you do for the novel?
It was a very difficult challenge. But I like giving myself a challenge in my writing. I quickly decided that to write from the point of view of someone deaf from birth would be too much of a push––I wanted her to have experienced language and be able to talk. So her deafness came when she was a child. I researched what it was like being deaf, read some personal testimonies, and read quite a bit about sign language and lip reading. I’m hoping I made a good job of it, though of course there are bound to be some pretty major mistakes, and I don’t pretend to be anywhere near an expert. Most of all I was keen not to make her deafness a disability, but rather just a part of who she is.
Did you have a supporting character that you particularly enjoyed writing?
I tried something a little different with this novel. Ally’s scenes are written in first person, and the other POV character, her father Huw, in third person. I think it works really well. There’s a bit of me in Huw, and I really enjoyed the scenes between him and his daughter, whichever viewpoints I was using. Huw’s not an heroic type, at least not to begin with––he’s scared and uncertain, unsure of himself and his ability to help his family. But he finds his heroism on the road. In fact they all do, in different ways. It might be the best family story I’ve ever written, and I miss them already. Maybe I’ll go back to them some day, see how they’re doing.
When you write a novel, do you usually already have an ending in mind, or do you just go where the narrative takes you?
I often have something of an ending in mind, but it inevitably changes through the course of the book. Often I’m unsure who’s going to make it through to the end. Sometimes the ending arrives out of the blue and surprises me a little, other times I have to go a lot further to find resolution. Sometimes––and these are the best times, it happened with The Silence––I’m really keen to finish writing a book because I want to know what happens at the end. I have friends who plot in great detail and then sit down to write, but for me that’d mean the story is already told. I love the act of discovery in writing, revealing the story behind the fog of random ideas. If I surprise myself, I hope I’ll surprise the reader, too.
You’re a master at writing the scaries. What’s something that truly scares you?
My family in peril. That’s about it. Vampires and zombies don’t scare me, spiders are a bit gross but I don’t have nightmares about them. Real things scare me. Dangers to those I love, unfairness, nasty people doing ugly things. These concerns permeate my writing, from the family in The Silence, to the main character’s family in danger in my new thriller, The Hunt.
It’s been a little while since we caught up. Have you read any good books lately? Is there anything you’re looking forward to reading this year?
I loved North American Lake Monster by Nathan Balingrud. Helen Marshall is an exceptional short story writer, I can’t wait to see her novel. No One Gets Out Alive by Adam Nevill is an unrelenting exercise in terror, he’s truly one of the best horror writers we have. I have to leave quite a while between reading his books, they’re so intense. One novel I’m really looking forward to is The Night Clock by Paul Meloy, I’m lucky enough to have the manuscript sitting on my desk right now. Paul’s been one of my favourite horror writers for some time, as well as a good friend, and this is his first novel.
What’s next for you?
A cup of coffee. Then my new thriller The Hunt is due in July from Avon (my first non-supernatural/fantasy novel). Later this year sees Predator: Incursion, the first of The Rage War trilogy for Titan (an Alien/Predator trilogy). Next year I have four novels scheduled––books 2 and 3 of The Rage War, my second thriller from Avon (tentatively titled Every Man), and Relics, the first of a brand new original horror trilogy from Titan. Later this year should also see the movie of my short story “Pay The Ghost”, starring Nicolas Cage and Sarah Wayne Callies. A couple of other movies are in development, too. And between all this I’m still swimming in lakes, biking around the countryside and running around mountains, and in July I’m racing my second Ironman. Phew! Time for that coffee…
About The Silence:
In the darkness of a underground cave system, blind creatures hunt by sound. Then there is light, there are voices, and they feed… Swarming from their prison, the creatures thrive and destroy. To scream, even to whisper, is to summon death. As the hordes lay waste to Europe, a girl watches to see if they will cross the sea. Deaf for many years, she knows how to live in silence; now, it is her family’s only chance of survival. To leave their home, to shun others, to find a remote haven where they can sit out the plague. But will it ever end? And what kind of world will be left?