Today, we are thrilled to bring you part 1 of our interview with Lex Hrabe and Thomas Voorhies, the writing duo behind Quarantine: The Loners known as “Lex Thomas.” These guys are SUPER busy right now, what with writing the sequel to Quarantine: The Loners AND working on the screenplay adaptation. So we’re even more thankful than usual that these authors took the time to answer our questions — both the serious ones, and the not-so-serious ones!
LEX: The Geeks. I did a lot of drama in high school and I’d probably feel the need to stick close to a stage to keep my mind occupied. Always having the Geek show to prep would be a great creative outlet.
TOM: I change my answer all the time when people ask me this. Today I’ve been sitting alone in my apartment, trying to plow through writing to meet our deadline. I haven’t seen anyone all day or night, and I’m gonna have a lot of days like this in the next few weeks. So, today I’ll say the Loners, so I can be around other people who are used to spending so much time alone. Also, I have a soft spot for weirdos.
LEX: I tweeted about this the other day. There’s an old blues song by Son House called “Grinnin’ In Your Face”. It’s got a very slow, creepy vibe that reminds me of the still moments in McKinley and the silent halls. And the lyrics are right on target:
“You know they’ll jump you up and down / They’ll carry you all round and round / Just as soon as your back is turned / They’ll be trying to crush you down”
TOM: I’m completely down with that.
In the next QUARANTINE book, will we get to see what’s been happening outside of McKinley?
LEX: In a way. How’s that for cryptic?
TOM: I’ll stick with what Lex said. But what I’m more excited about, is how things will change inside the school.
So, thanks for putting everyone’s crappy high school experiences into perspective. What sparked the idea for this high school horror story?
LEX: I think Tom would have to answer that. We were working on a comedy script about a sea hag, and one morning I walked in, and he said what do you think of this idea for a story: instead of cliques in high school, there are gangs, so just walking from your locker to class would be an adventure. I think I said something like: AWESOME.
TOM: I remember the idea coming to me, and it was like any story idea, it just pops in your head. I think I had watched some high school movie or TV show earlier in the day, and the idea occurred to me that it would be cool if all the cliques and stereotypical groups that everyone knows from high school were actually fighting to the death instead of trying to one-up each other socially. The rest of our choices were made to try and make that metaphor for high school happen. What I like about it is things like fitting into a group, or winning in love can feel like life or death issues in high school, and in this premise they literally are. Without a group to belong to, you might starve, or if you mess around with someone’s boyfriend, his girlfriend might actually kill you. Who’s to stop her?
There are some really insane, outrageous moments in QUARANTINE. What scene was the most fun to write/plan?
LEX: For me, I loved when Mr. Meyer, David’s teacher, dies. It’s the first truly shocking beat in the story, where you think “okay, this is about to get crazy!” It’s a real “Evil Dead”-style horror moment where Mr. Meyer launches his lungs out at David’s feet. In early drafts, we went even bigger. Our initial vision was that adults melted into a bloody mess when they got near a teen. I remember we wrote something like Mr. Meyer’s head melted away like a creamsicle held up to a blowtorch. I still miss that.
TOM: My favorite parts to write are often the first and last sentences of each chapter. But if I had to pick a specific scene, I think the chapter where one of our main characters has to traverse a hallway full of lethal booby traps was one of my favorites to bring to life. Who doesn’t love deadly traps?
See part 2 of our interview on Wednesday!