Elevator inspectors, the Port Authority Bus Terminal, zombie movies: these are just a few of the things that have inspired Colson Whitehead’s books over the years. For Time, Whitehead goes over each of his books and the subjects that compelled him to write them. For his upcoming novel, The Nickel Boys, he explains: “It’s about places with no accountability. That dynamic between the powerful and the helpless, where our worst impulses can be let loose.”
One of the more common questions that comes up in The Nervous Breakdown’s self-interviews is what the subjects consider to be the hardest part of the writing life. The most recent edition sees Jac Jemc, whose latest came out last week, admit that time is what foils her: “Everything takes longer than I think it will, more drafts than I think it will.” This might be a good time to look back on some earlier examples of the form.