Take Five with Richard Gropp, Author, ‘Bad Glass’


Richard Gropp is the contributor for this week’s Take Five, a regular series where we ask authors and editors to share five facts about their latest books. Gropp is the author of Bad Glass, available now.

Something has happened in Spokane. The military has evacuated the city and locked it down. Even so, disturbing rumors and images seep out, finding their way onto the Internet, spreading curiosity, skepticism, and panic. For what they show is—or should be—impossible: strange creatures that cannot exist, sudden disappearances that violate the laws of physics, human bodies fused with inanimate objects, trapped yet still half alive. . . .

Dean Walker, an aspiring photographer, sneaks into the quarantined city in search of fame. What he finds will change him in unimaginable ways. Hooking up with a group of outcasts led by a beautiful young woman named Taylor, Dean embarks on a journey into the heart of a mystery whose philosophical implications are as terrifying as its physical manifestations. Even as he falls in love with Taylor—a woman as damaged and seductive as the city itself—his already tenuous hold on reality starts to come loose. Or perhaps it is Spokane’s grip on the world that is coming undone.

Now, caught up in a web of interlacing secrets and betrayals, Dean, Taylor, and their friends must make their way through this ever-shifting maze of a city, a city that is actively hunting them down, herding them toward a shocking destiny.

Richard Gropp:

1. My male lead was originally named “Dane,” not “Dean,” but halfway through writing I realized that that made my two main characters “Taylor” and “Dane,” and that seemed like a really strange, out-of-place pop music reference (if you don’t understand, look up “Taylor Dayne”). I thought it would be distracting for those who noticed, so I went back and changed it.

2. In the first draft, the song I included in Chapter 7 was “Black” by Pearl Jam (harkening back to my own adolescence), but there was no way in hell I’d ever get permission to include that song, so I ended up changing it to “The John B. Sails,” which has its own unique resonance for me.

3. Spiders really creep me out. While writing Bad Glass, I was drinking a homemade cup of coffee and I found a huge, dead spider in the bottom of my mug. Unfortunately, I found it after drinking nearly the whole cup. And I found it with my mouth, not with my eyes or fingers. I was grossed out for weeks.

4. For a long time, there was an epigraph right before chapter 00. It was a Raymond Chandler quote – “There is no trap so deadly as the trap you set for yourself.” This pretty much sums up all my understanding of both psychology and writing.

5. I’ve actually only visited Spokane once, while researching the novel, and I was only there for three or so hours (so, Spokanites, please forgive any geographical errors – call it artistic license). That gray October day, however, made a huge impression on me, and some of the photographs I took during that visit ended up making it into the book. (If you’re interested, I’ve collected some of them here, on my website.)