Besides having the privilege to preview M.D. BenoitÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s new book Synergy and interview her today, it happens to be a very special dayÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ Happy Birthday, M.D.! Hope you have a great one!
SciFiChick: Describe your upcoming book, Synergy.
Benoit: Here is what the book blurb says:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Cloning. Accelerated growth of replacement organs. DNA repair. In 2096, all are possible. And forbidden by law. Three people will defy these laws to save the life of eleven-year-old Zelimir, who will die a slow, painful death from a horrifying genetic disease. Zelimir’s father hires Torver Lockwood and Demetria Greyson to find a cure for his son. Both have a personal stake in this illegal research. A cure may help explain why Torver is able to see into people’s pasts and why Demetria has visions about a violent future. But, once developed, the solution could be used as a powerful weapon that can target specific genes. With the chance that the cure may fall into the wrong hands and start a new reign of terror, will Torver keep the secret to himself, at the cost of one small life?Ã¢â‚¬Â
Synergy is also about the relationship between Torver and Demetria (warning: theirs is not a romance). By themselves, they are hurt and alone, together they fit like yin and yang. I wanted to write about imperfect, even unsympathetic, heroes who are faced with difficult choices.
SciFiChick: How long did it take you to write Synergy?
Benoit: About two and a half years. A solid six months of that was on research.
SciFiChick: How did you go about your research for the technical aspects of your novel, such as the diseases that your characters have?
Benoit: I was already following developments in genetic engineering: the mapping of the human genome, the cloning of Dolly the sheep, the controversy over genetically modified organisms, so I knew enough to know I knew very little. I began with basic books on DNA, then roamed the internet for more in-depth and up-to-date information on human genetic engineering. The field evolves so quickly itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s almost impossible to follow everything thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s happening, but several government sites have done a great job in bringing the knowledge to an understandable level.
SciFiChick: Will there be a sequel or another novel based in this futuristic society?
Benoit: Synergy is the first in a thematic trio based on genetic engineering. Catalyst, which will hopefully come out in 2008, is about human cloning farms. Entropy, which is my current work-in-progress, deals with genetically engineering food crops and the real dangers of monoculture.
The science is the foundation, but not the story. It is the vehicle to put my protagonists in serious situations and see how they react to them.
SciFiChick: You mentioned that you have three main themes that recur in all of your books: time, bioethics, and water. Tell us about that.
Benoit: IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve always been fascinated with how contrarily time flows. It speeds up as you age, but in your head youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re still the twenty-year old you were twenty or thirty years ago. It slows to a crawl when you want it to speed up. I wanted to have two protagonists who could manipulate not time but how time affects them.
Water, to me, is the physical representation of time. Harry Manx sings that Ã¢â‚¬Å“you never stand in the same river twice.Ã¢â‚¬Â Water flows, changes, even when it is still. It runs through your fingers, yet is one of the most powerful forces of nature. In Synergy, water is rare and precious and becomes an obsession for the villain. It is also the subtext for the changes Torver and Demetria go through.
As for bioethics, more and more we are bombarded by news of genetic discoveries, of companies patenting genes, etc. How does that affect our lives? Who should make the decisions? Should science ignore ethics, for the sake of pure Ã¢â‚¬â€or appliedÃ¢â‚¬â€ knowledge? These are important questions, and I wanted to put them out there. I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t answer them, but I hope my readers will become aware that, as the title of my blog says, LifeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s weirder than fiction, and we need to pay attention.
SciFiChick: How did you decide to start writing science fiction mysteries? ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s such a unique subgenre.
Benoit: DidnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have any choice. Those were the stories I had in my head. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve tried other genres, and IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m pathetically bad at them.
SciFiChick: What are some of your inspirations for your writing?
Benoit: The newspaper, the internet, my dreams. Torver popped up all grown up one morning as I woke from a dream. There he was, standing in front of a shimmering ribbon, saying, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Damn, I skipped five years.Ã¢â‚¬Â I knew then I wanted to write about him.
SciFiChick: Who are some of your favorite authors? What sort of books do you enjoy reading?
Benoit: IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m a very eclectic reader. The only things I wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t read are erotica and horror. My very favorite book is Blindness, by JosÃƒÂ© Saramago, about how easily and fast civilization as we know it can degrade. Right now, on my TBR pile, I have Christopher Moore, Jed Rubenfeld, Salman Rushdie, Nalo Hopkinson, Dave Duncan, David Baldacci, Elizabeth Moon, Nicholas Sparks, C. S. Friedman and Mark Twain.
SciFiChick: Tell us briefly about your other published books.
Benoit: The Jack Meter Case Files series is very different from Synergy. Jack Meter is a Private Investigator living in Ottawa, Canada, but who gets recruited by aliens to find a stolen transport device. This is Metered Space, the first of the series. In Meter Made, Jack teams up with a beautiful intergalactic agent to find out why pieces of universe are disappearing. In the third, Meter Destiny, coming out in September 2007, Jack must find one of the three Fates, from Greek Mythology, who has been kidnapped.
The book are light, fun, irreverent. I call them my Ã¢â‚¬Å“Sam Spade in Space,Ã¢â‚¬Â a mix of Dashiell Hammett and Terry PratchettÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Discworld.
SciFiChick: Thanks for your time! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Benoit: Just this quote from one of my favorite author:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can’t see from the center.Ã¢â‚¬Â -Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., writer (1922- )