Eight Minutes, Thirty-Two Seconds
by Peter Adam Salomon Genre: YA SciFi Thriller
Over eight billion people died when the world ended.
L and M don’t know why they’re alive. They don’t remember what happened. Addicted to a drug that kills them for eight minutes and thirty-two seconds, they risk the end of humanity in order to learn the truth.
L had forgotten how many times she’d died.
Once more. Her repeated promise to M: just one more death.
L’s fingers shook where they rested on his arm, trying to pull the injector closer to the port in her forearm, waiting for her fix.
M pressed the plunger.
For a moment, she wanted to curse him for injecting her, for reminding her that, after she died, she’d forget her empty promises of never dying again.
He’d heard it all before. He’d hear it the next time he killed her. And the next.
But that moment was fatally brief as the heat reached her heart and fire tore through her with the finality of flatlining.
The first seconds after dying were a vertigo death spiral, when the brain shuts down amid the inescapable sound of the last beat of her heart.
Then, memory returns. She’d died before. She’d die again. On purpose.
Death had a reason.
Peter Adam Salomon is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, the Horror Writers Association, the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, the Science Fiction Poetry Association, the International Thriller Writers, and The Authors Guild.
His debut novel, HENRY FRANKS, was published by Flux in 2012. His second novel, ALL THOSE BROKEN ANGELS, published by Flux in 2014, was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in Young Adult fiction. Both novels have been named a 'Book All Young Georgians Should Read' by The Georgia Center for The Book.
His short fiction has appeared in the Demonic Visions series among other anthologies, and he was the featured author for Gothic Blue Book III: The Graveyard Edition. He was also selected as one of the Gentlemen of Horror for 2014.
His poem 'Electricity and Language and Me' appeared on BBC Radio 6 performed by The Radiophonic Workshop. Eldritch Press published his first collection of poetry, PseudoPsalms: Prophets (nominated for the Elgin Award), and his second and third poetry collections, PseudoPsalms: Saints v. Sinners and PseudoPsalms: Sodom (nominated for the Elgin Award), were published by Bizarro Pulp Press. In addition, he was the Editor for the first books of poetry released by the Horror Writers Association: Horror Poetry Showcase Volumes I and II.
He founded both National Dark Poetry Day (Oct. 7) and the annual international Horror Poetry Showcase for the Horror Writers Association.
Can you, for those who don't know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
Originally, I began as a poet and, to an extent, still tend to think of myself as a poet first, a novelist second. This heavily influences my writing, and has led to some of the most surreal moments of my career. I’ve had poem performed on BBC Radio 6 by The Radiophonic Workshop (the geniuses behind the music for Dr. Who), for instance. I’ve also founded both National Dark Poetry Day (Oct. 7) and the Horror Writers Association’s annual international Dark Poetry Showcase (which recently celebrated its 6th year). I started writing novels about ten years after I’d already been writing poetry, and it would be another twenty years before my first novel (HENRY FRANKS) sold. Since then, I’ve published two more novels (one of which, ALL THOSE BROKEN ANGELS, was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award) and three poetry collections.
Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie?
All of them. A ‘good’ movie? Much harder question. The full (very wordy) description of my degree is: Bachelor of Arts in Theater and Film Studies, with a concentration in set design and construction for musical theater. This makes me very good at Jeopardy. Not so helpful in my current day job. It has, however, proven invaluable in writing novels. I approach everything very cinematically when I’m writing. So all of my novels have a tendency to be stories I think would make decent movies. My latest novel, EIGHT MINUTES, THIRTY-TWO SECONDS, is most likely the one that would make the best movie, simply because it’s a much better book than the first two due to how much I’ve learned over the years. It’s also a very lean, very filmable story with suspense, action, mystery, and those all help.
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
My favorite is probably going to visit Walden Pond in winter, so not only were we at Walden Pond, due to it being iced over, we got to walk on Walden Pond and, though very cold, we brushed off some snow and sat down on Walden Pond and just marveled at the fact that we were sitting on Walden Pond.
Does ‘Stranger Things’ count? Here in Atlanta we’ve snuck into the building that’s used as Hawkins National Lab and taken creepy pictures. Also did a Queer Eye one where we visited shops and locations they filmed at over the first two new seasons.
What inspired you to write this book?
The end of the world. I think that’s been on a lot of people’s mind lately. I came up with a slightly different idea (one with robots) which changed completely as I thought about the story. Once I started writing, I finished the first draft in 21 days. The book just flowed so well from the moment I started writing it. Editing it and submitting to publishing houses (I was fortunate enough to have two different agents try to sell this book because they liked it that much), and then finally deciding to self-publish took another two years. The main reason for that was the length, with EIGHT MINUTES, THIRTY-TWO SECONDS being very short at a little over 40K words.
What can we expect from you in the future?
My fourth poetry collection, PseudoPsalms: Revelation, will be coming out later this summer, to be followed by my next novel, MORSUS at the end of the year (I am currently in final revisions on that one). For 2020, I hope to have a short story collection, another poetry collection, and a novel (or two) out at some point.
Tell us about your main characters- what makes them tick?
There has always been a theme of memory and identity in my novels, with Henry in my first novel having amnesia, and Melanie in my second novel with her own questions about who she is. With EIGHT MINUTES, THIRTY-TWO SECONDS, both L and M have gaping holes in the memory that they are struggling to fill. The reader knows far more than the characters do about the situation they’re in and the reader knows very little. As the book progresses, and M, in particular, learns all the answers they’ve been searching for, the reader understands that M might know, but he has absolutely nothing to do with that knowledge, trapped in a situation where knowing everything is useless while L, still trying to learn, finally realizes that she’s trying to answer the wrong questions.
Their arcs, as they learn, understand, and finally accept what may (or may not) be reality, drives the story, and just as they have questions, the reader can never quite be sure how reliable these narrators are.
With Henry, he’d lost his memory (and his mother) in a car accident. Or, at least, that’s what his father tells him when he wakes up from the coma. As the story progresses, Henry starts to wonder if his father is telling him the truth. His search to discover who he is, including if his name is really ‘Henry,’ becomes the central mystery of the book (in addition to the hunt for a serial killer who he not only fears might be his father, he fears it might be himself).
How did you come up with the title of your first novel?
My first novel went by the name THE MYSTERY OF HENRY FRANKS for years, until my editor at Flux decided too many books, past and present, had a similar structure of THE _______ OF _______. So they chopped off ‘THE MYSTERY OF,’ which lead to having to add the words ‘A Novel’ in small letters underneath the title so people didn’t think the book was called ‘PETER ADAM SALOMON’ written by ‘Henry Franks.’ To this day, however, I’ll still receive emails addressed to Henry. Or Frank, for that matter.
Who designed your book covers?
I have been blessed, over the years, with two brilliant book cover designers (and, with my next book, MORSUS, a third). Flux assigned Lisa Novak to HENRY FRANKS, and she came up with a number of designs. As the author, I’d been warned to expect to have zero feedback into the cover. Fortunately, the team at Flux tied, 3-3, between two covers and they decided to allow me the tremendous honor of being the tie-breaker. What made this so important became readily apparent when my editor sent me the two covers being voted on. I LOVED one of them. And, as much as I LOVED that one, I did NOT love the other. At all. Can’t even begin to tell you how much I didn’t like it. It was still an amazing piece of art. But the other cover was astonishing. Over the years, I have received tremendous feedback on that cover and I give thanks all the time for being able to have a say.
For my second novel with Flux, they assigned Lisa again and I made a suggestion for the cover which she fought for permission to create, as it was something Flux was not known for doing. Again, the cover became a source of tremendous acclaim. Small note: Both of my books became the cover art for the Flux seasonal catalog, which had never happened for a Flux author before so my editor informed me.
For my poetry, Bizarro Pulp Press contracted with Matthew Revert who created the amazing cover art which has become the theme for all of my collections over the years. Like the novels, the feedback I have received for those covers continues to astonish. When I decided to self-publish EIGHT MINUTES, THIRTY-TWO SECONDS, Matthew was one of the first people I contacted, and I adore his cover for the book. Striking, elegant, mysterious, it’s exactly the cover this book needed.