ScienceThrillers.com: I met Paul Landes at a Northern California writers event organized by a member of California Writers Club. He’s the author of a fresh indie thriller, first of a planned “Alex Boudreau” series. When I heard Wings to Redemption involves genetic engineering and viruses, I invited him to tell the ScienceThrillers audience about his novel. Here is his guest post.
Note: Paul will be signing copies of his book in Sacramento, CA at the Avid Reader on February 24th at 2 pm.
Wings to Redemption: Alex Boudreau has been trained to win…at any cost. Lured by a sacred trust back into a life of stealth and undercover thievery, Alex confronts a tormented past laced with guilt, self-proclaimed failure and deception. Faced with gripping, split-second decisions that would forever shape the future, Alex plunges, once again, into the world of corporate intrigue, greed and deceit. After stealing a top-secret genetically engineered drug, Alex discovers the stolen information contains the specs to create a viral weapon – a weapon designed to threaten the world. Now the target of cold, calculating men with unlimited resources, nerves and wits are the only weapons available to unearth the identity of these men who are determined to kill not only Alex, but millions of others.
What kind of research did you do for this book?
The whole book was researched, which is why I so often refer to is as “faction.” Every location in the book was either visited by me or I had lengthy discussions with people who were intimately familiar with the location. I relied very heavily on one friend, Dr. Murray Gardner from University of California-Davis, to help me create a genetically engineered virus and the end result is something that is not yet feasible today, but it definitely borders on the edge of reality. This is all fairly complex stuff and the challenge to me was to be able to write and describe the virus in such a way that it was technically correct, but understandable by the lay person. I think I achieved that based on the feedback I have received so far.
It sounds like the creation of this virus is an integral part to your overall plot. How did you come up with that idea?
In my earlier research I came upon a government agency called DARPA, which stands for Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. It’s part of the U.S. Department of Defense and I refer to it in my story as the Defense Department’s intellectual sandbox for depraved minds. It’s an agency with little or no project oversight so it made sense to use DARPA as the creator of the virus. It’s not unheard of for research to go off stream and end up with an entirely different result and that’s what happens here. In this case, DARPA was undertaking research to control the flight of mosquitoes so they could use them as the vector to deliver vaccines, or more likely something else. DARPA is actually doing that research now, but I took it further and used the mosquitoes to deliver a genetically engineered virus that could target a specific class of people. It turns out the people behind all this actually had even more sinister uses in mind for the virus, but that’s all a part of the story so I can’t reveal that here.
Do you have a specific place that you like to write?
I’m pretty good at blocking out distractions and I find that I’m able to write just about anywhere. But, without a doubt my favorite spot is a house we have on the north coast of California. There’s a loft overlooking the Pacific Ocean and surrounded by Redwood Trees and I can get lost when I’m writing there. In fact, I just got back from ten days where I worked nonstop on the second book.
What can you tell us about the next book?
At the end of Wings to Redemption there are some unanswered questions that are addressed very early on in the second book, not the least of which is what happened to Benjamin? The second book is a continuation that will follow the same theme and also visit some stunning spots. Antarctica plays a central theme and I was amazed to learn that there are so many unknowns about this continent. I have the story written and I still have plenty of revisions to do, but I expect to have it out in June.