To suggest your career has been diverse would herald unprecedented understatement. Thank you for your willingness to be interviewed.
1.) Why did you choose a genetic warrior for your first novel?
I began with the thought of combining a story about genetic engineering with the conundrum of our endless war against terrorism and the atavistic nature of war in general. We continue to live a primitive world - for millennia societies have taken their greatest potential, their youth, and tossed them upon the rubbish heaps of war; as we do today. Despite all our technology, we have moved barely an iota in our moral growth above our ancient forebears. It seemed an interesting concept to take animals - which we use for food, as pets, for entertainment, as beasts of burden - and consider manipulating their genome to create an chimera - an animal with human attributes - to fight our battles.
2.) Does your story line develop organically or is it a gestalt before you begin?
There is a component of both. I began with a lot of "what if" questions. What if we no longer fought our wars by expending the blood and potential of our best young men and women? What if we overcame our moral compunctions about playing god and proceeded with the capabilities that science now has in manipulating genes to improved the potential of humans and animals. These questions are weaved into an adventure story that discusses genetic engineering and eugenics and melds intrigue, romance, history, science, battles against Islamic terrorists, US and Middle East politics, with a bit of humor thrown in.
3.) Is your process to outline and then fill in the blanks or just sit down and start to tell a story or ?
I outline a story idea, find the characters to tell it, and then let the characters bloom.
4.) Do you have a favorite character in the book and if so why?
I particularly like NATE STUMPF, the sleazy San Francisco detective hired by Maggie Wagner to discover why her father was apparently murdered. He's a dreamer who not only imagines his success but imagines or rationalizes his shortcomings as virtues as well. I admire his drive and optimism. You can't fail when you can't envision failure.
5.) What do you like the most about writing?
Taking a void and filling it.
6.) Where do your new story ideas come from?
I keep notes about intriguing ideas and clip stories I read in magazines or newspapers that I think might be useful in framing future characters or stories.
7.) What advice has helped the most in your writing?
Keep writing, and keep writing, and keep writing.
8.) Do you have follow up projects to this book or is something new in the works?
My second novel, OIL AND GOD, will be published by Medallion Press in 2011. You can read more about it on my website: www.barrypollack.net.
9.) Who is your favorite author and why?
It's difficulty to pick one. But I like Herman Wouk - whose writing encompasses a diversity of wonderful characters weaved into history in Marjorie Morningstar, The Caine Mutiny, The Winds of War .
10.) What advice would you give for the want to be writer?
A fiction writer is first and foremost an entertainer. While it's an achievement to be able to entertain, it's a glorious gift to be able to do so and provoke thought and discussion at the same time. Basically, sing and dance and have something worthwhile to say.
Thank you Barry for your time and your insightful interview.