Enduring Horror: Tim Lebbon on Writing Your Passions

You know the scene well enough. The heroes are on the run. They’ve survived all manner of traumatic events, and if they’re not quite the last ones left alive, they’ve certainly lost a lot of friends in startlingly creative ways. But now there’s a light at the end of the tunnel––a way to escape, a method of killing the monster, a place from which to be rescued––but our heroes have to get there first. 

One of them has well-developed cardio and experience in endurance sports. The other is a couch potato. Who survives? 

Yep, that’s right. You’re way ahead of me. Just as the endurance athlete is way ahead of the couch potato when the monsters come running, shambling, or crawling…

I’ve yet to be attacked by zombies or shot at by hunters stalking humans, but my love of endurance sport has been creeping into my fiction over the past couple of years. Part of it is that inevitable ‘write about what you know’ advice. I used to think that was misplaced, a useful axiom to throw out there but one which held little real logic. Then the more I started writing, the more I started to realize it was so, so true. I don’t know much about winged monsters that hunt by sound, but I do know how much a father would do to protect his family in peril (The Silence). I don’t know what it’s like to be the target in a human hunt, but I know a little about mountain running and endurance sport (The Hunt). This ‘write about what you know’ thing might just have something going for it after all, and when I started planning Eden, I wanted to write a novel that dipped deep into one of my loves (endurance sports), and one of my big fears (climate change). 

I’ve been running, biking and swimming for about ten years, since starting my 40s unfit. I’m 35 lbs lighter than I was back then, and certainly much fitter. I began with short runs of 5k or less, but quickly started to realize that I was built and wired more for long distance events. I’m not too hung up on the numbers and times, but I really enjoy the challenge of running a mountain marathon or competing in an Ironman race, as much a mental effort as a physical one (in fact the longer and more extreme the race, the more the mental side of competing comes to the fore). I’d much rather spend five hours running a long race in the mountains, where terrain and conditions mean you don’t have to worry about whether it’s a personal best time or not, than an hour running a flat fast road race. I love nature, I love the hills, and that’s the perfect combination.

Terrifying though it is, I’d love to run across Eden, and be part of my team of adventurers that are the main characters in the novel. Well, maybe until things start to get a bit bloody for them…

The other main aspect to Eden is the environmental side. I’ve always written about nature, from my early novels and novellas onwards, but Eden is the most overt I’ve ever been writing about the climate crisis and environmental change. I love nature and the wild (as I mention above, there’s nothing I like more than running in the hills), and like most people, over the past few years I’ve become more and more concerned about the damage we’ve done to our world. It was inevitable that I’d end up writing about it. Indeed, the new novel I’m working on now could also attract the description of ‘eco-thriller,’ as Eden has.

Combining these two preoccupations has, I hope, contributed to creating an exciting, timely eco-thriller. Eden is the name of a vast tract of land given back to nature, one of thirteen such areas that humanity has abandoned so that nature can reestablish itself. The idea that these Virgin Zones will become the lungs of the world. No one is allowed inside these places––they’re not scientific experiments, not national parks. People are totally excluded… but of course, some people don’t listen. Adventure racers target Eden as their next adventure, but when they get inside they start to discover that here, nature no longer welcomes humanity.

Eden is a beautiful place, but dark. I hope you enjoy your first steps inside. 


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Tim Lebbon has been published for over twenty years and has written over forty horror, dark fantasy and tie-in novels, including The Silence, Relics, Coldbrook, The Cabin in the Woods, the Noreela series of fantasy books (Dusk, Dawn, Fallen and The Island), the New York Times bestselling novelization of the movie 30 Days of Night, Alien: Out of the Shadows, Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi – Into the Void, and several books with Christopher Golden, including Blood of the Four, The Map of Moments, and The Secret Journeys of Jack London. He’s also written hundreds of novellas and novels and has won several prestigious awards.


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