Monday, March 24, 2014

Interview with Kevin Bohacz, author of techno-thriller 'Immortality'

I am Kevin Bohacz the bestselling novelist of Immortality and a lucid dreamer… Welcome to my dreams. I am also a writer for national computer magazines, founder and president of two high technology corporations, a scientist and engineer for over 35 years, and the inventor of an advanced electric car system – the ESE Engine System (circa 1978). I was also a short order cook for I-Hop, flipped burgers at McDonalds, and delivered Chicken Delight. All of those careers and more are behind me now that I am a full time storyteller, a catcher of dreams. Thank you for reading my stories and making this all possible.

His latest books are Immortality and Ghost of the Gods.

Visit Kevin’s website at www.kbohacz.com.

Thanks for coming to the book club, Kevin! I absolutely love thrillers. Why did you decide to write that genre?

Kevin: I love hard science fiction and I love thrillers but more than anything I love the type of hard science fiction that is theoretically possible and set in

present day, which is pretty close to the definition of one kind of techno-thriller. This is the brand of techno-thriller that I write. I often get compared to Michael Crichton since he is arguably the inventor of this type of techno-thriller. I actually bend the techno-thriller genre a bit to my own liking. Thrillers typically are supposed to be action and suspense first and foremost but I take the time to do enough character development to create fully realized three dimensional people. My characters are not perfect. They are flawed like all real people. For me the stories are all about the characters. If the characters are not 100% real and true to whomever they may be then the story stumbles. If a reader has strong emotions for the characters whether it is hate or love then the story soars.

The other thing I enjoy about my slightly bent genre is that I make everything scientifically possible. Making everything possible leads to greater levels of suspension of disbelief in the reader. I feel this makes the stories more compelling. When I am reading a story nothing can cause me to stumble quicker then reading something portrayed as fact that I know is not possible. Whether it’s something simple like a real street described incorrectly or a technical device that is highly unlikely, it all equals the collapse of my suspension of disbelief. The same is true for the characters. I stumble reading a story if a smart character does something slightly foolish just to move the plot along or vice versa. So the bottom line is that I write the kinds of stories than I love to read and my slightly bent techno-thriller genre allows me to do this.

I love it that your theme in your first book, Immortality, revolves around evolution. Can you tell us more about this?
 

Kevin: Well actually Immortality is not my first published novel, Dream Dancers got that award back in 1993…

The epic tale of my bestseller Immortality and the sequel Ghost of the Gods has five different interwoven themes and is about many different things: physical immortality, love, the end of the world, and revenge… but as you’ve pointed out what is arguably the biggest underlying theme is the idea of self-directed human evolution and the notion that through this mechanism at some point in our history we will vanquish death from natural causes. This concept has been given many names but transhumanism is probably the most widely known.

Here is what one of the critics had to say about evolution in the two-part tale of Immortality: Publisher’s Weekly STARRED review: “Bohacz’s vision of a humanity that faces the need to evolve profoundly or face certain destruction is as timely as today’s news and as chilling a doomsday scenario as any ecological catastrophe can suggest...”

So how do we extend our lifespan to the point where death becomes the exception instead of the rule and save ourselves from destruction? I think we have been doing just that for our entire history as a species. It is what all self-aware life forms do. Once you know you are going to die, once you have taken that bite of the apple, there is no alternative other than to wage war on death. Survival is hardwired into our psyche.

As far back as we can trace our ancestry we've extended our lifespan by enhancing our bodies so that we could better protect ourselves from the environment and predators of both the two and four legged varieties. Unlike non-self-aware creatures that function heavily on instinct, we have been very busy using our analytical brains to alter our bodies. In the hundred generations of recorded history and millions of years before, we have been self-evolving by augmenting our bodies with technology. We started with stone tools then worked our way up to fire, then wheels, then suits of armor, then gunpowder, then the atom.

This self-directed evolution radically changed in the last century. Today life extension is coming through sweeping scientific breakthroughs. We are embedding electronics into our bodies, networking our thoughts, and engineering our genes. We have moved from physical prostheses to mental prostheses in the form of computers. Our self-evolution is accelerating at a breathtaking rate in lockstep with the geometric advancements in technology. It seems inevitable that we'll continue to enhance ourselves with machines, chemicals, and genetic manipulations. What will healthcare be like a hundred years from now? The environment? Love? Wars? No one knows if we're careening toward paradise or a nightmare, but I think nothing short of a global catastrophe will keep us from opening this particular Pandora's Box.


Can you give us a description of your characters in Immortality?

Kevin: Since the tale is epic there are a lot of pivotal characters so I will limit the descriptions to the very most important characters.


Mark Freedman: Professor Mark Freedman is in his late 40’s. He is a Nobel Prize winning research microbiologist and bioengineer. He is a full tenured professor at UCLA where he conducts advanced research into genetic engineering of bacteria. The university gives their Nobel Laureate everything he wants. A seemingly endless supply of federal and private grants provides even more. He has achieved his dreams, but paid a price. He is divorced from a wife that still loves him. He is an absentee father from a daughter he adores. He is nearing fifty and counting all the mistakes he has made. A diabetic from childhood, he has started drinking and knows the damage it is causing. He lives in a million dollar condo in Venice Beach, California with one of his graduate students who is half his age. It was affairs with young women like this one that cost him his marriage.  A decade ago he was a pioneer in the field of micropaleontology. It was his discovery a bacterium named COBIC-3.7 that won him his Nobel Prize. COBOC is 3.7 billion years old and oldest known form of motile life on Earth. This bacterium is the first cousin to protoanimals and the very nexus of the great kingdoms of plant and animal. It is literally the origin of an evolutionary branch that would eventually lead to all animals, including humans and it is still swimming and living among us. With this glory ten years behind him, he is now hunting a new theory to win a second Nobel Prize. He is seeking to prove a connection between this ancient bacterium and the great extinction events from hundreds of millions of years ago. He believes COBIC is the canary in the coal mine that predicted those great extinctions.

Kathy Morrison: Doctor Kathy Morrison is in her late 30’s. She is a hugely respected doctor at the CDC in Atlanta. She has worked for the CDC since graduation from Harvard Medical. She began as an EIS field agent and for many years took some of the most dangerous assignments. She has seen firsthand the suffering and death wrought by the most terrible diseases on the planet. She is a workaholic who is only in her element when she is trying to solve medical mysteries. She is attractive but thinks she is not. During her college years, she dated a long procession of would be doctors and then married a surgeon. She is unlucky in love and still getting over a hurtful divorce. She has a bad knee from a skiing accident and sometimes needs a cane. She lives in a very desirable condo in the trendiest neighborhood of Atlanta, which she can barely afford on her government paycheck.


Sarah Mayfair: Sarah Mayfair is in her early 20’s. She is a newly minted Morristown, New Jersey police officer. She is going to college part-time working her way to a psych degree with a good though not perfect grade point average. She wants to get into federal law enforcement. A bit of a tomboy, she likes sports, camping, and even hunting.  She is an expert on the pistol range. She shoots all-pro at the situation contests and took third place last year in the state finals. She has emerald green eyes, dark blonde hair, and is extremely attractive. She is part Middle-Eastern, part English, part Indian, part Moroccan, part Italian and the list goes on. Her mixed-ethnicity is often mistaken by the eyes of the beholder: Italians think she is Italian, Middle-Easterners think she is Middle-Eastern, Indians think she is Indian, and Brits think she is British. In this way she is almost a chameleon. She had an emotional breakdown not long ago but has recovered for now. She lives with her boyfriend Kenny and a huge Rottweiler named Ralph who she adores.


Artie Hartman: Artie is in his late 20’s. He is an assistant D.A. for New York City. He is half Japanese and half English. Artie grew up in a very bad NYC neighborhood and joined a gang, the Dragons, the same year his parents were killed. He got into trouble and was sent to juvenile detention for possession of a firearm. He accidently killed a boy in a gang fight but was never arrested or under suspicion for the crime. When he was released from detention his record was expunged and he was later taken in by his uncle who became a second father to him. Guilt over all he did while he was running with his gang is something that plagues him in his adult life especially now that he is prosecuting teenagers and young men who were just like him.


General McKafferty: McKafferty is in his 50’s. He is a true patriot who believes in God, Honor, and Country. McKafferty is career Army, West Point, and commander of BARDCOM, which stands for Biological Armaments Research and Development Command. BARDCOM is a top secret command and in some ways the military’s analog to the CDC. Biological weapons are illegal by international treaty and BARDCOM only develops weapons in order to devise and test ways to counter them. McKafferty is a bull of a man and truly ugly in appearance. He knows he is menacing in appearance and uses the power it gives him. He likes the sideways glances and fear. His face is large and quarter moon shaped on profile. A pair of jug ears stick out rudely from below a peach fuzz of gray hair. His skin has a ruddy leather complexion from too much booze and fistfights in his younger years. He is a soldier who clawed his way up the commissioned ranks and earned every bit of success the hard way. He is greatly respected by his peers. He loves his wife and family. He is an idealist in that he sees his role as a warrior who has sworn an oath to protect and there is nothing he will not do to protect his country including breaking the law or disregarding orders.


Every book has that on the edge of your seat drama. What part of your book will have us glued to the pages?


Kevin: The short answer to your question is the drama builds from the first page and keeps on building to the very last word of the sequel. I think the point at which I consider the action becomes intense is around the 25% point into the first book Immortality. You do not have to take my word that Immortality and Ghost of the Gods will keep you glued to the pages and reading until the sun comes up. The critics agree about the drama or adrenaline rush. Here is just one example: Publisher’s Weekly STARRED review: “Bohacz provides mind-bending portrayals of factions vying for power and reflections on the essence and fragility of humanity. But philosophical concerns never obtrude on the fast-paced plot. The question of who can be trusted impels the reader to keep turning the pages of this highly satisfying and dynamic techno-thriller.”

Is there anything you’d like to tell your readers and fans?


Kevin: To all my readers, thank you for making my dream come true and to everyone else please take Immortality and Ghost of the Gods for a test drive! I promise it will be a wild and winding road that will keep you guessing until you reach the very last word on the very last page.

 


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