Jeff Glor talks to Nick Arvin about the "Reconstructionist."
Jeff Glor: What inspired you to write the book?
Nick Arvin: I'm an engineer, and some years ago, I stumbled into a field known as forensic engineering, working on reconstructions of car crashes. We applied the principles of engineering and physics to determine the events that led to an accident and, ultimately, who was at fault. The work was incredibly interesting, but also discomforting in the way that it required taking a purely analytical approach to events that were full of coincidence and human drama. "The Reconstructionist" was, among other things, an effort to explore this paradox.
JG: What surprised you the most during the writing process?
NA: This is my third book, but I'm surprised every time by how hard it is. I had great material in hand, from the details and stories of working in accident reconstruction, but it took a great deal of work to develop characters and a larger story that made the material meaningful. I also felt a real obligation to do my very best to honor and do justice to the stories I was working with, which arose after all from events that were terribly painful to the people involved.
JG: What would you be doing if you weren't a writer?
NA: I'm engineer, as well as a writer. I no longer work in forensic engineering; I'm now in power plant and gas facility design. The easy assumption is that if I weren't writing, I'd just be an engineer. But I don't know. If I didn't have my writing to explore stories, human relationships, larger themes, and my own creative instincts, I might have lost my marbles and run off to start a fish farm in Bolivia or something.
JG: What else are you reading right now?
NA: I just finished Faulkner's novella "Spotted Horses" (a great, funny, fast read) and I'm looking forward to starting "The Reeducation of Cherry Truong," by Aimee Phan.
JG: What's next for you?
NA: I'm well into a collection of stories about engineers and other technical types -- the kind of people who are creating the technologies and machines that are rapidly remaking our world, and yet don't get written about very much. It's tentatively titled "An Index of Human Properties."
For more on the "Reconstructionist" visit the Harper Collin's website.