Jared asked Jeff VanderMeer:
The first Southern Reach was incredible, probably one of my top ten faves; I haven't yet gotten a chance to read the second. I've always had a soft spot for intense novels with strong female characters: what inspired you to write one with nothing BUT strong female characters? (In my opinion, it turned out great, suspenseful and thrilling without falling into any tired tropes or stereotypes.) Thanks for your time!
Jeff VanderMeer Well, there's the practical reason given in the novel about changing the metrics--the last expedition was all men. But the truth, too, is that when I wrote the first five or six pages I hadn't thought about gender, but when I began to think about the characters they were all women, and any time I thought about changing them, they resisted--just in the sense that I was still experimenting with the "mix" of lots of things in the novel. And all of the backstory on the characters became fixed in my mind. On a secondary level I also liked the idea of there not being any men since it pushed against the usual situation in these kinds of novels.
More Answered Questions
Sean asked Jeff VanderMeer:
Even though they are very different books, I felt like your books have a lot in common with "House of Leaves" (the whole Lovecraftian uncertainty, the focus on protagonists who aren't fully aware of the world they're interacting with) and I just wondered if "Leaves" happened to be a book that influenced your thinking or if it's just serendipitous reading on my part.
Jake Chambers asked Jeff VanderMeer:
What did you think about "The Man Who Had No Eyes" in City of Saints and Madmen in the the mass market paperback edition NOT being encyphered (because the change of format had shifted things and would have required recoding the piece)? Do you think the book lost something with that decision, or do you think most readers wouldn't have bothered to solve the code in the first place?
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