It was interesting, writing this, in that both Steph and I went off, wrote out part, tossed emails back and forth, and let each other do their own thing before reading the two together. There were tiny little similarities that would pop up which were funny, and which, at other times, allowed for a nice resonance between the two. Our hope is that when people read the two novellas, they fold into each other well, and create a small novel--and the resonances of the two will add to that, I believe.
Perhaps the most interesting thing for me, was how the BP spill and the resulting environmental debate seeped into my head as I was pulling thoughts and ideas together. It was nothing big--I don't want anyone to think that the spill was in any way an inspiration, but it was hard to ignore it, given the nature of the two separate worlds we were writing about. Below, especially, is about the people who live on a ground that has been heavily mined and used for toxic dumping, and the inhabitants, living in that from day to day, have to deal with that. It's not hard to make the leap from that idea to the spill, and see how bits of it, and the surrounding debate, were pieces I could draw from.
On that note, indeed, there is a big article at Rolling Stone (of all places) about the spill:
Admiral Thad Allen, the U.S. commander overseeing the cleanup, framed the spill explicitly as an invasion: "The enemy is coming ashore," he said. Louisiana beaches were assaulted by blobs of oil that began to seep beneath the sand; acres of marshland at the "Bird's Foot," where the Mississippi meets the Gulf, were befouled by shit-brown crude – a death sentence for wetlands that serve as the cradle for much of the region's vital marine life. By the time Obama spoke, it was increasingly evident that this was not merely an ecological disaster. It was the most devastating assault on American soil since 9/11.