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Where did the idea for Dance of the Innocents come from?

I often get asked how I came up with the concept for Dance of the Innocents. As with many good ideas, this one was born in the shower. The seed for the book was this: What if a city of a million people was moving around in some sort of grand pattern, but they had no idea they were doing it? In order to see it, one would need a satellite view combined with a new generation of time-lapse photography capable of finding order within the chaos of daily life. And that's where the story's protagonist comes in. —TRL

Beyond being a thriller, what is the larger message in Dance of the Innocents?

Dance of the Innocents is, on the surface, the story of an every man, an unemployed and embattled man, a familiar character on the landscape of our times, but one who is drawn into something bigger than he is, and he emerges as a hero. At a deeper level, it’s a story about the intersection of science and spirituality. As a society, we tend to neatly separate these two worlds, when in fact they may be interrelated. There is evidence that primitive cultures, such as the Mayans, embraced this connection. They didn’t think in terms of science vs. religion. There was only life. Dance of the Innocents suggests that the line between the physical world and spirit world may be finer than we think it is. —TRL

Was Dance of the Innocents inspired by another book?

If there were one book that led to the writing of Dance of the Innocents, it would be The Holographic Universe by Michael Talbot. I first read his book about ten years ago, and it’s affected my view of reality ever since. The Holographic Universe offers examples of extraordinary phenomenon that we tend to explain away as coincidence or miracle, simply because science cannot explain them. But what if we found a new scientific basis for these events? We’d have to adjust our definition of reality. In Dance of the Innocents there is a moment when one of the characters hears something on the radio a few seconds before it is actually broadcast. It’s something that happens to many of us, but we just don’t know what it is. Time may not always move along at the same rate for everyone. —TRL

Dance of the Innocents reads like a screenplay. Did you envision it as a movie?

As someone with a visual arts background, I think cinematically when I write. Dance of the Innocents has a screenplay quality, and it’s no accident. I want to completely immerse the reader, without having them pause to admire the prose. My writing style is straightforward and workman-like. Everything on the page is in the service of the story. There’s a rhythm to the text and a process of discovery for the reader. Two books that influenced my development as a fiction writer are, On Moral Fiction by John Gardner, and On Writing by Stephen King. —TRL

What fiction writers have influenced you?

In high school I was introduced to classic American fiction by Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway and J.D. Salinger, but by the time I entered college I found that Kurt Vonnegut, Tom Robbins and Richard Brautigan more closely captured the world I was familiar with. These days, I'm more likely to be reading nonfiction about specific subjects that interest me, as well as biographies. Naturally, I read an occasional novel—enjoying Steve Martin at the moment—but when I read fiction, I'm more interested in ideas than in craft. Over the years, I've made a point of finding inspiration in mediums other than the one I'm working in. As a writer, I've been equally influenced by Neil Young and Andrew Wyeth, as I have by novelists. —TRL

Do you think there is a future for the novel?

The novel, as a means of social enlightenment, is still one of the most powerful vehicles around. Most of the important movies made today started as novels. But in today's world of instant gratification, many readers don't have the patience to slog through densely written literary fiction. They still have an appetite for ideas and answers to life's questions, but they don't want to have to decipher them from a cryptic text. —TRL

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Todd R. Lockwood Fiction