Nostalgia becomes a weapon in the sci-fi thriller 'Prophet'

Two author photos with the book cover in the middle
"H is for Hawk" author Helen Macdonald, right, cowrote the new techno thriller "Prophet" with artist Sin Blaché, left.
Courtesy images

The first time Helen Macdonald and Sin Blaché met, it was to finish the book they had been cowriting for a year.

Macdonald, author of the best-selling “H is for Hawk,” and Blaché, an artist living in Ireland, first met online. During the COVID lockdowns, bored and restless, they started to play with the idea of writing a book together. Chapters began to fly digitally over the Irish Sea.

What resulted is “Prophet,” a fast-paced techno-thriller that centers around a lethal mystery: Someone has developed an aerosol that can weaponize nostalgia, bringing people’s happiest memories to life only to have them be killed by it.

‘Prophet’ doubles as a queer odd-couple romance, thanks to the main characters, whom Blaché and Macdonald fondly call “our terrible men.” Adam is a gruff American super solider, and Rao is a former British intelligence officer who has a gift for telling when people are lying — unless that person is Adam.

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On this week’s Big Books and Bold Ideas, MPR News host Kerri Miller talks with Macdonald and Blaché about why cowriting a book online turned out to be a raucous, joyful thing and how their shared love for tropes and pop culture influenced the book.

Guests:

Use the audio player above to listen to the podcast version of the conversation.

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