Justin Cronin achieved a respectable level of success with his literary novels, Mary and O'Neil and The Summer Guest. But then he penned the great American vampire story, and his novel The Passage became a phenomenon.
It's 2016, and terrorists are striking across America with increasing frequency. The U.S. government is creating a top-secret army of death row inmates to root out the terrorists — until it all goes wrong.
These days, vampires seem less like the creepy undead, and more like teenage heartthrobs. But Cronin has created a world of cold-blooded bloodsuckers who are neither romantic nor seductive.
"These are not your teenage daughter's vampires," Cronin tells host Neal Conan. "They do not sparkle; they do not look like underwear models. These are the real vampires."