All of my previous books have taken place over a relatively short time period, and one of the things I wanted to do with my new novel was to try something altogether bigger in scope and subject matter. But I hadn’t realized until I was well into the book is that there is a severe drawback to writing a story that takes place over an extended period of time (just over a century, in this case): people have to die. And it is my job to kill ’em off.
Despite the rampant megalomania inherent in the act of making up stories, I’ve found this to be a surprisingly tough gig. As you live with characters and watch them grow, it’s hard not to become quite fond of them (even the bastards – perhaps especially the bastards.) And it’s only with extreme reluctance that I’ve consigned them all to their various fates, sorry to see them go.
You can’t just have them expire from old age, either. Most unprofessional, don’t you know. So in this book there is death by: enemy sniper fire, arson, drowning (twice), hanging (suicide), lynching, massive stroke, cycling off the edge of a cliff, Parkinson’s disease, and myocardial infarction brought on by a malfunctioning pituitary gland (you’ll just have to trust me on that last one.) The only person who does die of old age is 106. If you’re going to do it, do it properly, I say.