Writing Excuses 7.31: Project in Depth — Hollow City

It’s time for our fourth “Project in Depth” episode, and now Dan Wells is on the spot. The Hollow City is Dan’s latest book, and while it’s not a new John Cleaver book, it’s still a supernatural thriller with a tight psychological focus.

Spoilers galore, of course. If you haven’t read The Hollow City yet, go read it before listening to this episode.

Dan’s New Twitter Handle: Per Howard’s suggestion, @JohnCleaver has been retired in favor of @TheDanWells.


Go find an interesting mental illness (quick, before Dan takes all the good ones.) Now write from the sufferer’s POV, but don’t tell us what’s actually wrong.

Sucks to be Me, by Kimberly Pauley, narrated by Nancy Wu

14 thoughts on “Writing Excuses 7.31: Project in Depth — Hollow City”

  1. I was a psychology major in college, and one of the things that annoys me greatly when I read books is when people get the psychology wrong. I love the fact that with your books you take the time to get it right, I think that really helps the books.

    Before I switched to psychology as my major, I was a music major, so the fact that you originally based the outline of this book around a fugue is even cooler to me (even if it didn’t work out as a fugue).

  2. Is there any word on when the Hollow City will be available on Audible? I am holding out for the audiobook.

  3. The fugue is usually known as “The Little Fugue in G Minor”. As Chuck Daellenbach has pointed out, the name was given to distinguish it from the “Great Fugue” in G Minor. Dallenbach goes on to say that despite the name, this is a great fugue, too.

    W.R.T. co-opting a music form for a novel, sonata-allegro, rondo and (as you mention in the podcast) theme-and-variations may offer better clotheslines to hang your words on.

  4. Another great podcast. These in-depths have been fun. I do think they would be even stronger had the entire read the book before-hand. That being said, this is a talented group of authors who’s works I’ve enjoyed very much!.

  5. I thought I saw… no, I couldn’t have seen… well, maybe. But if I did, then… no, definitely not. Only crazy people see things like that, and I’m not crazy, so I didn’t see… there goes another one… I definitely did not see that one go by. Did you? No, don’t answer that, I don’t want to know.

    A Transcript! YEAH!


  6. The name of the movie you were trying to remember…is it ‘Dark City’? (Rufus Sewel, Jennifer Conolly, Kiefer Sutherland?) Amazing movie. Definitely has a world-shattering reveal of the truth!

  7. Re. the use of music as an outline for a story…

    I was reminded of Final Fantasy X, which isn’t based on any one musical work, but does seem to have a musical (rather than three-act or five-act) structure.

    Like good music, it works on principles of contrast, rhythm, and repetition with variation. Violence and confusion alternate with friendship and peace throughout, while the themes of fatherhood rivalry, sacrifice, religious authorities versus individual conscience, and collective versus individual good, all kept replaying in different forms. It reminded me a lot of a thematically-driven symphony.

    In short, I want to see Dan try this fugue idea again, and make it work.

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