to the end
Justin Cronin tells us about the long, dark road to concluding the Passage trilogy
The City Of Mirrors, the third book in Justin Cronin’s Passage trilogy, is about to be released, more than three years after The Twelve. There are two reasons, says Cronin, for the long gap between volumes. Firstly, he simply wanted “to get it right”. The second reason, however, was rather more serious: a diagnosis of prostate cancer.
“You travel the halls of the American cancer-industrial complex,” he says. “You have to find doctors, you get a second opinion, you do this test, that test, it takes a long time to figure out what you’re going to do. Then you have [treatment], and then you feel like crap and stare into space for a while.”
He calls his diagnosis “a horror show”, but Cronin refuses to be downhearted. It probably helps that his treatment has been successful, but he also drew on his experiences for a book that follows some of the characters he created for The Passage into their fifties. “Throwing a visit from the mid-life mortality fairy into the mix, I’m not happy it happened, but it was, I guess you could say, artistically useful.”
It’s also served as a reminder of just how much of Cronin’s career the books have taken up. When Cronin began writing the novels – end-of-civilisation-as-we-know-it vampire books, but smarter than that sounds – his daughter Iris, who famously helped him develop the books by chatting with her father as he jogged, was at school. “The little girl that helped me write the book is now a functioning, independent person in the world, and she lives about 1,800 miles from here,” he says.
As for whether the Passage books will ever make it to the screen, Cronin isn’t allowed to discuss, although he does have this to say: “A lot of people have told me this would be much better as a cable TV show [than movies], and I’ve never said I disagree with them.”
The City Of Mirrors is published by Orion on 16 June.
Justin Cronin fed his own brush with mortality into the final Passage book.