A couple of weeks ago, after I interviewed comics writer/prose novelist Chris Roberson over at my other online home, Robot 6, we got to discussing novelists that he would recommend to feature here. One of the first names he mentioned was novelist Daryl Gregory. Roberson was kind enough to get me in contact with Gregory who was willing to discuss his latest novel, The Devil’s Alphabet. Before starting the interview, let’s delve into part of his bio: “Daryl Gregory’s first novel, Pandemonium, appeared from Del Rey Books in 2008 and won the Crawford Award for 2009. It was also a finalist for several other awards, including the Shirley Jackson Award and the World Fantasy Award. His second novel, The Devil’s Alphabet, appeared in November, 2009, and was named one of the best books of the year by Publisher’s Weekly.”
Also, here’s some background on the novel itself: “Switchcreek was a normal town in eastern Tennessee until a mysterious disease killed a third of its residents and mutated most of the rest into monstrous oddities. Then, as quickly and inexplicably as it had struck, the disease–dubbed Transcription Divergence Syndrome (TDS)–vanished, leaving behind a population divided into three new branches of humanity: giant gray-skinned argos, hairless seal-like betas, and grotesquely obese charlies.
Paxton Abel Martin was fourteen when TDS struck, killing his mother, transforming his preacher father into a charlie, and changing one of his best friends, Jo Lynn, into a beta. But Pax was one of the few who didn’t change. He remained as normal as ever. At least on the outside.
Having fled shortly after the pandemic, Pax now returns to Switchcreek fifteen years later, following the suicide of Jo Lynn. What he finds is a town seething with secrets, among which murder may well be numbered. But there are even darker–and far weirder–mysteries hiding below the surface that will threaten not only Pax’s future but the future of the whole human race.” My thanks to Gregory for his time and thoughts.
Tim O’Shea: In addition to naming you in a manner that allowed you to avoid being called junior, do you think your parents unintentionally helped make your name more marketable for when your began your writing career?
Daryl Gregory: Wait, would my name be more unmarketable as a “junior”? Growing up, I thought it was pretty lame as it was. That’s why for my first publication — a science fiction story that appeared in “Rambler Roundup,” the Marion Hills Elementary School newsletter, when I was in fifth grade — I used the pen name “James Clark Savage,” Yes, I’d been reading a lot of Doc Savage.
We should explain to your readers that my father’s name is Darrell — note the subtle change in spelling — and that he also has a different middle name. So I’m a phonetically near-junior. The marketing genius of this — and I have to believe my parents planned it — is that it gives me something to talk about in interviews like this one.