Note: My answers may contain some spoilers for the book—please don’t read this if you haven’t finished the book!
How did you get the idea for this book?
It was a combination of a couple of things. I first started thinking about the book because of watching people blindly follow GPS directions, even when the GPS directions were a little suspect. Much of the rest of the idea for this book came one day when I happened to hear the author P.W. Singer interviewed on NPR about his book Wired for War. That book (which I subsequently read and was greatly intrigued by) is about how technology is changing the nature of war. Singer’s description of military types in trailers in, say, the Nevada desert, remotely flying drone planes over Afghanistan or Iraq, really stuck with me. And I was fascinated when he said this kind of “flying” actually led to more problems with post-traumatic stress disorder than a more traditional approach to war.
Why are all the names of places in the war zone so strange?
I wanted to imply that this book is set in a North America that’s very far in the future, and place names do tend to evolve over time. So, for example, the St. Louis Arch has become the Santl Arch; the Mississippi River has become the Mysip; Chicago has become Shargo; and the Great Lakes are known as Lake Mish, Perry Ore, Ree, Terry O, and You’re Wrong.
Why didn’t the news media in Eastam find out and reveal the truth about the war zone a long time ago?
The news media was completely controlled by the government, and only revealed what the government wanted it to. And that’s one of the reasons (soapbox time here) that it’s important to have a free press that covers important issues and checks its facts independently.