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The L: How do you develop the tone: before you begin or as the story unfolds while you are writing?
JF: I think the tone had to be so much different than the first book because I was dealing with an invention that had to be taken seriously. I had to construct it. I had to treat it with as much respect as I possibly could. And that established a more serious tone; a more reverent tone that I hoped would aid the conflict.
The L: You list many different types of treatments that Tim tries, in the book's prehistory and also during the events of the novel: how did you develop that list?
JF: I just sort of imagined ways in which the disease could be undermined by checking shrewdly the things that someone very desperate to cure himself and suffering would come up with. And then I had helpful readers who said, "Well what about this?" or "What would happen to him if he did this?" and so they also offered some housekeeping with regards to an invented disease.
The L: What kind of research did you do?
JF: I talked to a couple of generous and very intelligent doctors who gave me a lot of insight into not only what kind of diseases this was like but what their methodologies would be for handling a disease like this.
The L: What's the most interesting aspect for you of The Unnamed?
JF: Probably the split when he loses grip on his sanity is probably the place where I feel like the book becomes what the book was always intended to be and becomes most interesting. It's right around page 190 I guess.
The L: He's out in the desert in that area. So what do you mean what the book was intended to be?
JF: Kind of like an apotheosis. It's a culmination. The realization of the entire book's potential happens in that section. It was as if the book were always leading up to that point even though I didn't quite know it while I was writing it.
The L: How do you define love? Because that was a big part of The Unnamed...
JF: Yeah, I agree. That's a tough, open-ended question. In the book, there's romantic love and spousal love and fatherly love and self-love too, so there are many different shades of it and with each shade come different feelings and obligations. In itself, love is such a specified thing that we have to talk about the very individual dynamics that appear in the book.
The L: Why did you choose attorney as a career for Tim?
JF: I think it's a very interesting profession. And in some ways it's similar to the medical profession, in that when you are trying to prove innocence or guilt, it's not a science. It's an art. So similar to Tim's pursuit to a medical cure, he's also pursuing his client's innocence. And there are no such things as clear-cut answers in either of those fields.