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Monsters: Preston & Child’s Relic: An intriguing writing match-up

This week’s adventure in horror genre reading: Relic by Preston and Childs. Is Relic, really a horror novel? I didn’t think so. I Thought It Was More of a Supernatural Mystery – Thriller.  But a monster story? Definitely.

There are a few things about Relic that appealed. First, I love the setting. It was right up my alley with intriguing ancient history mixed with new scientific discovery. It ticked a few other boxes for me as well like supernatural beings running rampant in the real world, and each and legends being true.

But I love the intricacy of the story and the way the authors made something unimaginable possible. Although slow at times, the scientific portions of explanations were intriguing. Like many of the other novels and movies we’ve reviewed this semester, again, the real horrific characters are humans. It was again a human who actually created this monster. And in the end, it was another human hell-bent on creating more time and wanted to control the power. The classic story of humanity.

All of that aside, I became interested in learning how the two authors put this book together. How did they work together? How did they write a book together, where you do not know where one or this writing began and the other ended? And how much of the setting, legends and folklore, and ideas were based on reality? The answer: quite a bit of it.

When I say a lot of it was based in reality, I don’t mean that ancient monsters are rising in Army exams. Although, sometimes I wouldn’t rule it out. At least, I wouldn’t rule out monsters being created a contrived in the laboratories of our world.

Reading through an interview that the authors did shortly after the release of Relic, I discovered how they accomplish such a feat. This was a massive collaboration. One author, Douglas Preston, worked in the museum for over eight years. Many settings, rooms, ideas skeletons, etc. like the bug room, do exist. They’ve been reimagined, but they were based on the author’s experiences which is very interesting. Lincoln Childs, being an editor for St. Martin’s press, specializing in thrillers and mysteries got behind the scenes tour of the New York’s American Museum of Natural History. It was during that tour, he imagined the museum would be a great place for setting the story.

According to the author’s interviews, the two men sat down for a couple bottles of scotch and hammer out a plot. After that, they didn’t work face-to-face as they live 2000 miles apart. Their workflow went something like this: child’s outlines of chapters and sent to Preston. Then Preston wrote the first draft, send it back to Childs, polish the draft. The two authors spent the next couple years sending chapters back and forth and talking – a lot of arguing – daily.  It sounded like a great working relationship and gave a lot of insight hours to how a book like this could come together.

Jeannie Davide-Rivera

Jeannie is an award-winning author, the Answers.com Autism Category Expert, contributes to Autism Parenting Magazine, and the Thinking Person's Guide to Autism. She lives in New York with her husband and four sons, on the autism spectrum.