And I'm glad I did. I didn't think I'd love this book as much as I did. Such a broad sweeping tale, I was doubtful Cronin could hold my interest. But he succeeded not only because of his plotting and pacing, but also by using different narrative framing devices. The latter showed a writing musculature I didn't expect. Cronin's use of stream of consciousness, 3rd Person, first person flashback, or diary entry invigorated The Passage and kept it fresh.
Looking forward to The Twelve.
Here's an excerpt from the NPR interview that has been archived:
Prof. CRONIN: I decided that I would go about writing this book the way I wrote all my other books. The difference here was one of scale and I suppose also urgency. All novels come down essentially to moments in which characters make choices that they can't un-choose - where things change, they can't be changed back. You can do this at, you know, with an awkward dinner party. Or you can do it by strapping your characters essentially to a runaway train of a plot, which is what I decided I was going to do.
Plot is different from story. Plot is something you can describe in the abstract, it's a series of events, every book's has got one. But story is where plot and character meet - thats where they combine. And I'd learned to be a writer by writing about people, by writing about characters. And that just because I had this very large canvas and very energetic plot, I wasnt going to go about it differently in any way.
I've never met even a secondary character that I didnt want to spend time with and figure them out. For the duration in which Im writing them, they feel like the main character to me. And the way I go about this is I always make sure that I know every character's secret, what they're not telling anybody. And once I do that, their humanity just kind of ignites.
But the range of characters in this book is, you know, much broader than anything I'd attempted before. And each time I went into a new character, you know, a homeless man in Houston, Texas who ends up on Death Row; an FBI agent; a sort of mystical nun from Sierra Leone - I mean, this is the kind of range that I had in this book and it was it was a lot of work and required a lot of concentration. But it was also really a lot of fun to do it. I got to have this whole vast cast of imaginary friends for the duration of writing the book.
Slight Spoiler--The only problem I did have was with his character Auntie. She was too much like Mother Abigail. Her character was unneeded and served only to remind me continuously of Stephen King's The Stand.