Wednesday, October 22, 2014

PUYB Virtual Book Club Chats with Thriller Author William R. Leibowitz



William R. Leibowitz has been practicing entertainment/media law in New York City for a number of years.  He has represented numerous renowned recording artists, songwriters, producers and many of the leading record companies, talent managers, merchandisers and other notable entertainment businesses.  At one point, he was the Chief Operating Officer/General Counsel for the Sanctuary Group of Companies, a U.K. public company that was the largest ‘indie’ music company in the world (prior to its acquisition by the Universal Music Group). 

William has a Bachelor of Science degree from New York University (magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) and a law degree from Columbia University.  He lives in the village of Quogue, New York with his wife, Alexandria, and dog, George. 

William wrote Miracle Man because of its humanistic and spiritual messages and because he feels that in our current times – when meritless celebrity has eclipsed accomplishment and the only heroes are those based on comic books, the world needs a real hero –and that, of course, is Robert James Austin, the protagonist in Miracle Man. Miracle Man won Best Thriller in the National Pacific Book Awards.
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About the Book:

REVERED   REVILED    REMARKABLE

The victim of an unspeakable crime, an infant rises to become a new type of superhero. 

Unlike any that have come before him, he is not a fanciful creation of animators, he is real. 

So begins the saga of Robert James Austin, the greatest genius in human history.  But where did his extraordinary intelligence come from?

As agents of corporate greed vie with rabid anti-Western radicals to destroy him, an obsessive government leader launches a bizarre covert mission to exploit his intellect.  Yet Austin’s greatest fear is not of this world.

Aided by two exceptional women, one of whom will become his unlikely lover, Austin struggles against abandonment and betrayal.  But the forces that oppose him are more powerful than even he can understand. 

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Welcome to the book club, William!  I’d like to start off by talking about your new book, Miracle Man.  This is a cross genre thriller.  What other genres could it be categorized under?
William:  Well, it’s definitely a thriller.  The genres within that category would be:  psychological, medical, superhero and spiritual.
Can you tell us a little about your main character, Robert James Austin?
William:   Austin possesses an extraordinary intelligence the likes of which has never previously existed.  We’re talking about someone with 10X the intelligence of Einstein.  He’s a highly complex person, both psychologically and spiritually, and begins in his
childhood to suffer intense nightmares and to fall into prolonged trances –conditions that continually get worse as he gets older and makes progress in his quest to cure diseases.  His extraordinary intelligence and relatively undeveloped social skills are self-isolating.  Nevertheless, he yearns to be loved. In fact, there is a very powerful love story in Miracle Man that readers have really latched on to.
What are his strengths and what are his weaknesses?
William:  Aside from his intelligence, his strengths are his laser-like focus and ability to concentrate on his work to the exclusion of all else.  His other great strength is his spirituality;  his extreme intelligence has not excluded him from a deep belief in God and in the struggle of good against evil—not just on a temporal plane, but metaphysically. His weaknesses are in many ways the flip-side of his strengths; he is an obsessive compulsive worker and manic in his suppression of other aspects of life, all to the detriment of his physical and mental well-being. 
Can you tell us a little about the other characters?
William:   There are several antagonists, but one of the most interesting is Column McAllister, the CEO of a major pharmaceuticals company.  He is obsessed with stopping Austin from curing diseases because each time Austin does so, one of McAllister’s “cash-cow” symptom -treatment drugs becomes obsolete.  McAllister is a sinister and highly resourceful politically connected “Big Pharma” magnate.

Orin Varneys, is the head of two U.S. government agencies that interact with Austin throughout Miracle Man.  The first of these is the OSSIS (Office of Special Strategic Intelligence Services), which discovers, nurtures, educates and then seeks to direct and control Austin as it views him as an “intelligence weapon.”  Ultimately, Varneys rises to become head of the CIA and in that capacity he hatches a bizarre plan to exploit Austin.

Christina Moore, is a beautiful and extremely intelligent PHD of mathematics, with a tragic past.  She becomes Austin’s love interest.
Where and when was this book set?
William: The book is predominantly set in New England –although Washington DC and New York City are also prominently featured.
I understand that when writing your book, you researched the lives of actual geniuses so that you could understand how genius manifests itself at various ages.  Can you go into this a little more?
William:  Even though Robert James Austin is an entirely superior class to any genius who ever lived –i.e., 10X the intelligence of Einstein, Newton, DaVinci or anyone else, I wanted Miracle Man to be realistic in its portrayal and description of the indicia of genius at various ages-and how genius is identified and quantified.  I read the biographies and studies of known geniuses and from this I understood what was “real” –--I then “pumped up” the actual realities to reflect the fact that Austin was in a completely different league from the people whom I researched.
I read some time ago that there were cures for diseases but that they wouldn’t allow this to happen because it would put the pharmaceutical companies out of business which really irks me.  Is there anything we can do about it?
William:  I think this is a real problem that confronts us. One of the powerful forces fighting Austin is “Big Pharma” which views Austin as their enemy since he cures diseases and thereby makes many of their “cash-cow” drugs obsolete.  Like Austin, I find it incomprehensible that virtually no major disease has been cured in over 50 years.  How can that be the case when so much money has been spent over the decades on research?  Simply put, there’s a lot more money in treating symptoms than there is in curing diseases.  Austin realized that Big Pharma has no interest in curing diseases.  It just wants to keep on selling expensive symptom treatments –and as we know, many people are on ‘medication maintenance programs’ for years, sometimes for life.  Austin wanted to change that.  I think that people need to start questioning Big Pharma on a host of issues ---from the astronomical cost of drugs –to the question-- “Where are the cures?”  Of course, one of the very big problems is that Big Pharma employs a huge lobby in Washington DC to bribe politicians and regulators to do things their way.  Like everything else, America’s health is for sale in Washington.
Do you have any plans to turn this into a series?  If not, what’s next for you?
William:  The ending of Miracle Man hints at a sequel and in fact, many readers have been writing to me calling for one.  I’ve already begun to sketch out the plot line—and all I can say is that #2 will have many surprises in store for readers, as things aren’t always as they may initially appear.  Ultimately, I view the saga of Robert James Austin as a trilogy.

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