I first had the idea for the Depository back in 2005, when I read up on the US Navy airships Akron and Macon. Learning about these floating aircraft carriers rekindled a fascination I had with the era of these flying behemoths. I recalled an article at the time that very briefly theorized an alternate reality - what if a ship like the USS Akron was stationed above Pearl Harbour to survey and protect the island? With the ability to launch fighter plane from the sky, would the Japanese still have the resolve to bomb the Harbour on that day of infamy?
When I saw the picture of the USS Macon flying above Manhattan, I created my own “what if”. What if there were airships like these floating constantly above New York. And what if they were also tasked to “protect” the city’s inhabitants? Aside from the grandeur of having these in the sky, there were so many impracticalities to consider. How would this type of surveillance adapt? What would they need to become to survive?
I also wanted it to be a familiar world with some notable differences. Where private companies had even more intrusion into everyday public life than they already do. To enable this world, I had to imagine a fork in history where some of these type of private entities were permitted to become more powerful than government investigation bureaus and intelligence agencies. The setting ultimately felt more and more like a stopgap between the world we live in today and an Orwellian world.
The concept for Russell himself is a familiar story for many Asian-Americans. Many of us grew up with a familial and cultural emphasis on academic achievement and attaining status in an established profession. The West was our home and we identified as foreign when visiting our mother country. We had trouble connecting with our elders. Russell’s character draw from some of these types of experiences.
I had a lot of fun writing this book. It’s not a complex techno or legal thriller. It’s simply an interesting concept (to me) that I wanted to crystallize on a sheet of paper before I went on to the next thing.