Author Talk: September 2005
David Morrell Talks About the Real-Time Aspect of the Plot in CREEPERS
CREEPERS is a nickname for urban explorers: history and architecture enthusiasts who infiltrate buildings that have been abandoned for decades. The idea is to enter a time capsule and become immersed in the atmosphere of the past. The abandoned building in CREEPERS is the Paragon Hotel in Asbury Park, New Jersey, an area that was once the crown jewel of resorts on the Eastern Seaboard but has now fallen on exceedingly bad times. As the creepers discover, the Paragon is a place they’re not supposed to be.
When I started to write CREEPERS, I decided that the best way to increase suspense was to stay entirely within the confines of the decaying structure. I wanted a feeling of claustrophobia, of tightening corridors and narrowing walls. I thought of this as an intense unity of place. That in turn led me to dramatize a similarly intense unity of time.
CREEPERS begins at nine p.m. on a cold October night. It ends at five in the morning. Every instant of every breath of the intervening eight hours is accounted for. There aren’t any cuts or summaries or leaps forward. Every word the characters speak is on the page--every creaking step, every nervous gaze. Each major section is labeled according to the hour: nine p.m., ten p.m., eleven p.m., midnight, and so on. The effect is comparable to that of a documentary, creating a hyper version of reality. Or it might be called a constantly ticking metronome of fear. I don’t know of another book that uses this device, and I was very pleased when I learned that the unabridged Brilliance Audio version of CREEPERS lasts eight hours, the length of time the novel takes to unfold.