Hugh Howey, author of the WOOL series (WOOL, SHIFT and DUST) has always been reputed to be a really nice guy and very generous with his time and help.
Well, now I can attest to that very fact.
It wasn’t much, really. I know that others have written stories in the Silo Universe that Mr. Howey created, and I know that he has allowed this work to be published with his blessing. That in itself should speak to the kind of person he is. But somewhere, I wondered: Is this just another experiment? After all, if someone is interested in Patrice Fitzgerald’s stories about other silos not featured in Howey’s work, would it not follow that they might then want to read the source material? Might this not lead to increased sales for the WOOL saga? Is it a clever, new marketing ploy?
I’ve always been interested in the moment when the “world ends”; I read a fair amount of post-apocalyptic, end-of-the-world fiction. My interest in Howey’s world focused on what happened to the people who WEREN’T in the silos. I had an idea to follow some young smart people who might learn about the coming genocide and try to figure out a way to ride it out. So I started writing the story of Paul, who meets up with Rebecca, a beautiful rich girl whose father is connected in the Beltway and who gets some vague information about what is coming their way. Rebecca enlists Paul’s help to somehow try to isolate themselves from the coming disaster.
Then I got thinking. I needed some information, to make it consistent with Howey’s universe. How was the infection spread, and how long would it last? I had the idea from reading SHIFT that the agent for genocide was spread by drones on the day of the Convention (you’ll have to read SHIFT if you want to know what I’m referring to). I wanted to know how long it would be around. How long would my main characters need to isolate themselves for?
So I wrote to Hugh Howey, via email. I asked my questions, and even though he was out of the country, he answered promptly. Twice! (My follow-up email asked a couple more questions for clarification.) His answers made my story doomed for failure, at least as a Silo Universe story. But that’s beside the point. Can you imagine writing to Stephen King these days (or even in the past) and getting a personal response within 24 hours? I can’t.
Mr. Howey deserves props for the way he treats his fans, even when (especially when) those fans are writers themselves. I just wanted to give him some. Thank you, Hugh Howey, for your great stories but also for being so generous with your time and attention!