Wickett's Remedy is set in 1918 in South Boston during the influenza epidemic. What interested you about writing a historical novel, particularly about this subject?
I wasn't interested in writing a historical novel. The subject grabbed me by the neck and I had to follow it. I had finished Bee Season and it wasn't out yet. It was that in-between year when you're done but you're just waiting. I knew I was ready to launch into something else but I didn't know what it was going to be. I was reading an article in the Times that listed the five worst epidemics of all time and the 1918 influenza epidemic was on that list, and I'd never heard of it before. There was a whole spate of nonfiction books about it that came out after this, but they hadn't come out yet, and I was floored that I'd never heard of this. The more research I did—the fact that this major thing had happened and then had been effectively erased—the more I realized that I absolutely had to write about it.
I became aware of the fragility of memory, both individual and collective. There are examples everywhere, but this is the one that made me realize that we are a species who forgets some of the most important, horrible, terrible things, and I wanted to talk about that.