Shortly after graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Blake Crouch realized he needed a change. Intent on kick-starting his writing career, he and his then-wife knew that they wanted to move west, but weren’t exactly sure where. Deciding not to overthink it, they looked at a map, picked out Durango, and, in 2003, moved there—even though neither had ever visited the southwestern Colorado town.

Durango proved to be a creative haven for Crouch: He’s written 17 novels, including 2016’s Dark Matter, a sci-fi thriller about a physicist who’s warped into an alternative version of his life. This past May, Apple TV+ premiered the first of a nine-episode adaptation of the book, with Crouch serving as the limited series’ writer and showrunner. Before the final episode premieres Wednesday, 5280 spoke with Crouch over Zoom about his links to Colorado, adapting his novel for the small screen, and letting go of regrets.

Editor’s note: The following conversation has been edited for length and clarity. 

Blake Crouch Dark Matter
Blake Crouch attends the Los Angeles premiere of Apple TV+ series ”Dark Matter” on April 29, 2024. Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

5280: How has living in Colorado impacted your writing?
Blake Crouch: I like being in Durango because it’s small. It’s quiet. I don’t know how my books would have evolved if I lived in New York or Los Angeles. Just because they’re noisy and busy and there are a lot of distractions. I think you need a lot of quiet. There’s also an authenticity to Durango that I think helps me with my writing. If you live in LA, then your circle will be directors and actors and producers and agents. It just changes the sort of perspective you have on life.

When did you become interested in writing?
Growing up, I would tell [my younger brother] really scary bedtime stories. That was sort of the first writing I did. I also did some Star Wars and Twin Peaks fan fiction back in the day and wrote short stories in middle school and poetry in high school. Then I started a novel my last year of high school. It’s always been something that’s just a part of my life.

Who were the authors you looked up to?
Cormac McCarthy and Thomas Harris were really big influences early on. Some fantasy writers like C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. People like Michael Crichton, who wrote sci-fi tech thrillers. I loved those. I read pretty broadly and still do. Not just genre, but all across the board.

What did you want to achieve as a writer?
In the beginning, I just loved writing and wanted to get my work out to people. My first few books were straight crime thrillers with horror elements. There was a ceiling to that for me. I became interested in emerging technology and scientific research. I saw that as a new and different way to tell my stories. That really started with Run, then Wayward Pines, and now Dark Matter, and everything I’ve been writing since then.

Did you always envision Dark Matter as a TV series?
When I was writing it, I thought it could be a movie. I actually sold it as a movie. Once the book was finished, I realized it was really hard to do it in just two hours. We were really leaving behind a lot of great character moments. A few years ago, we were able to move the project from Sony features over to Sony television. That made it feel more like the novel because you had the space to let the characters and scenes breathe. I was even able to expand it while the screenplay for the film was contracting it.

What did you want to explore with Dark Matter?
Quantum mechanics. The idea of the road not taken. The idea of superposition was very fascinating to me. Then Marvel started doing multiverse storylines, and they were everywhere. When I was writing Dark Matter in 2015, there really wasn’t a lot out there. It was a little frustrating to be trying to get this project off the ground and watching all of these multiverse stories come out. Some great, some terrible. Some from lazy writers who didn’t know what else to do. But that just pushed us to really make this thing as special as we could and to find a way to set it apart. We wanted to do a really grounded adult version of the multiverse. It still felt like there was a space that we could carve out as our own.

What do you hope audiences take away or experience with the series?
I think social media has made people question their lives and wonder if they are as good as they can be. I think it’s about letting go of regret. And not looking back so much at the path not taken and instead really loving the life that you have and realizing if you pulled one or two threads out everything could completely unravel.

Did you insist on being the showrunner on Dark Matter?
Originally, I didn’t really throw my hat into the ring to be a showrunner. I wanted to just write the scripts and let someone else come in and showrun and produce it. To Sony’s credit, they were like, “We think you should do it. We think you can do it.” So then it just became about deciding if I wanted to try to figure that out. Because it’s a big undertaking to be a showrunner. I knew if I was going to do it, I was going to go wherever we were filming. It was a huge upheaval to our lives.

How was it to be thrown into the world of showrunning?
I had seen a little bit of it from afar on Wayward Pines. [Editor’s note: In 2015, Fox television adapted Crouch’s Wayward Pines trilogy; the series ran for two seasons.] I wasn’t the head of all of it. I saw stuff that I thought, Wow, that’s great. I definitely would do that. Then I saw things where I was like, I would do that differently. So I’d had a little bit of on-the-job experience and being the fly on the wall. I had no idea how much it really takes over your life and how big the job was. I hated scouting locations. I love working with the actors. I love working with the directors. I love watching the production design come into focus. One of my favorite parts was honestly editing the episodes. That’s like getting to rewrite it again and getting to shape the story. I think that might have been my favorite part.