Today, I am hosting an author interview post with Anthony J. Melchiorri as part of The God Organ book tour hosted by Goddess Fish Promotions. The God Organ is a Near-Future Medical/Conspiracy Thriller novel that was released in October 2014.
Anthony will be awarding a $20.00 Amazon gift card to a randomly drawn winner, and an autographed copy of The God Organ will be awarded to four randomly drawn winners (US ONLY); all awarded via rafflecopter during the tour. A $20.00 Amazon gift card will be awarded to a randomly drawn host. Be sure to follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning.
The LyfeGen Sustain is an artificial organ designed to bestow recipients with virtual immortality. Instead, its owners are dying.
In 2063 Chicago, a rapidly growing company, LyfeGen, drives a biotechnological revolution that enables people to live significantly longer lives, free of cancer, genetically inherited diseases, and even wrinkles. But these benefits are only available to those people with the money to afford these advanced technologies.
The prolonged lives of the moderately and extremely wealthy is upending the economy as job growth and opportunities stagnate, causing widespread unrest in the general populace. Threatening drastic action, extremist religious groups protest these unnatural artificial organs. Competing companies are desperate to take advantage of LyfeGen’s seemingly grim future as the chaos unfolds.
Caught in the midst of this turmoil, the inventor of the artificial organ, Preston Carter, worries that someone with no regard for human life has betrayed his company and is setting him up for failure. He is not alone in his fears.
Amid the confusion, backstabbing, and all-out assault on the biotech industry, a young bioengineer races to findthe fault in the artificial organ; an investigative journalist delves into a story that will alter her career; a destitute man struggles to make a living in the biotech world, as he turns to desperate measures; and an amateur hacker infiltrates LyfeGen as she roots out the secrets of their technology. With a Sustain organ implanted in his own body, Preston must weather the perilous storm, determined to save his company and the lives of all who once trusted LyfeGen—before he’s killed by his own invention.
How much of a story did you have in mind before you started writing THE GOD ORGAN?
I actually spent a couple months putting together the storyline, fleshing out the characters, and doing the research necessary to write The God Organ. I pretty much had all of it down and spent the next year writing it out. Once I got to the end, I realized it had ended ALL WRONG. I saw right away what had actually happened and revised the book. So even though I thought I had the whole story in mind before writing it, it turned out the story only truly presented itself after I had written it. Kind of convoluted, but that’s how it went!
What is your favorite scene in the book?
One of my favorite characters is Cody Warren. He’s at the end of his rope in his career and his life. Alone and desperate, he takes a huge risk at a particularly pivotal moment in the book. He dreams about making an impact—any kind of impact—on this world and there’s a scene where he’s pushing his way through crowds of people. He’s just done something huge, something big in his life (I don’t want to spoil the book) and no one even notices the poor guy. Instead, his aggressive pushing through the crowd causes a fight to break out and he’s left just to watch it. Can’t even be a part of a fight that he started.
If you could afford advanced life extending technologies like the ones in THE GOD ORGAN, would you purchase them? Why?
Admittedly, I think I would. The God Organ documents several of the potential negative implications of such a life extension technology, but I would have a hard time turning down a chance to greatly extend my life and improve my health. That’s exactly what human beings (who can afford it and live in the right places, unfortunately) have been doing for the past hundred years. In developed countries, we’ve increased our average lifespans by almost 100%. So it would be disingenuous for me to claim I’d pass up that opportunity but I certainly hope things would turn out better in real life than they do in The God Organ.
If you could cast your characters in the Hollywood adaptation of your book, who would play your characters?
Here’s my best attempt: Emma Stone as Audrey Cook, Jake Gyllenhal as Matthew Pierce, Hugh Jackman as Preston Carter, Jamie Foxx as Cody Warren, Emma Watson as Monice Wolfe, and Lily Collins as Hannah Boyd.
Is there a message in your writing you want readers to grasp?
A few of my characters have hard-nosed opinions, one way or another, about issues of class, religion, and access to extreme healthcare like the fictional life-extending medical device, the LyfeGen Sustain (known as the “god organ”). I’m not trying to be didactic when it comes to these issues, but I do want readers to think about the implications of advanced technology, especially in biotechnology. It’s easy to hype stem cell treatments, genetic engineering, nanoparticles, and advanced drug delivery, but we need to also carefully consider that we aren’t rushing these medical treatments and that we look at them realistically. As a researcher myself, I think it’s important that I take a step back from my laboratory experiments and ensure two things: 1) How will this help people when it reaches the clinic? And 2) What are the potential side-effects or ways this might harm instead of help? If we can answer those two questions, we can start thinking about the impacts, positive and negative, about the amazing leaps and bounds in science and technology that we’ve been making over the past few decades.
Characters often find themselves in situations they aren’t sure they can get themselves out of. When was the last time you found yourself in a situation that was hard to get out of and what did you do?
A while back, I was taking a road trip through the Baltics. It was my turn to drive and we had just gone over the border from Estonia to Latvia. We were enjoying the countryside when a policeman steps onto the middle of the road and waves us over. I guess we hit a speed trap. He saunters up to the driver’s side window and says something to me in Russian. I respond, “Sorry, do you speak English?”
Well, he asked me to follow him to his office, which was where he and a couple other policemen were set up pulling speeding cars over. He looks over this paper international driver’s license I got with the AAA and hands it back. He told me a number that I would have to pay. Maybe forty or fifty Euro. This was all in broken English and I, unfortunately, did not speak Latvian or Russian. Then he tells me I can give him the cash or we can go to a bank where maybe I can get some more cash to give him. I was a bit confused until I realized that he wasn’t giving me a ticket. I think he just wanted me to pay him off. He wasn’t ever going to actually write up a ticket or issue one. (In some European Union countries, I believe you can pay the officer directly for your fine if he’s issuing you violation, but I got the feeling that that wasn’t what was going on here.)
So I asked, “Do I just take the ticket to the next bank and pay it there?”
He kept trying to explain what he wanted without overtly saying just to give him cash and I kept asking which bank I should take my ticket, too. Eventually, he gave up and just told me, “Drive on, my friend.”
I’m still not really sure what happened that day, but it all turned out fine. No ticket, no lost cash, and I paid a heck of a lot more attention to my speed.
Is there any particular author or book that influenced you, in any way, either growing up or as an adult?
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; Or, the Modern Prometheus had a huge impact on me in a couple of ways. While I read it in high school, its importance didn’t really sink in until I read it again while I was working on my degree in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Iowa. There were a few things that stuck out to me. First, I realized the book was extremely relevant to a future bioengineer and, among other thought-provoking lessons, taught me to truly consider the merits of my scientific work and why I’m doing what I want to do. Science shouldn’t be about hubris or a selfish pursuit of personal excellence; it should be about doing something almost humanitarian through technology, while being fully aware of the implications of your work. Second, Shelley wrote it at nineteen, so I figured I needed to start writing more! I realized that I couldn’t give up my interest in reading and writing while I pursued science, so I picked up a second degree in English at Iowa and have been more devoted to reading and writing ever since. I wanted to capture that intersection between literature and science like Shelley did in my own work and that’s what I strive to do.
What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?
Simply make writing a habit. If you want to get better at writing and get your first novel done, write 500 words a day. Make it happen every day. If you’ve done that, then you’ll have 90,000 words—an entire novel—done in six months.
What are you working on now? What is your next project?
I’m working on the second and third books of the Black Market DNA series. This series is kind of a spin-off of The God Organ and it follows an ex-con illegal genetic enhancement dealer as he tries to put his life together. The only problem is that the underground world of illicit biotechnology isn’t about to let him go. He faces all kinds of troubles ranging from finding himself on a mysterious hit-list to working on a treatment for a genetically engineered disease. Like The God Organ, there are a host of other characters that really make the series, from seasoned criminals to hard-working oncologists and rookie detectives. That series will keep me busy as I plot out the sequel to The God Organ.
For a while, Cody walked aimlessly. He pushed through the crowds, taking pleasure in bumping into people and disrupting their jovial moods. He smirked each time his shoulders connected with them. He watched one man in his early twenties teeter over and fall into another. They started to jostle each other with slurred expletives and shoves. Cody watched for a moment as others joined the fray, physical lunges and punches all resulting from the brief moment of contact Cody had had with the first slobbering drunk.
He escaped past the clubs and into the seedy streets where establishments like Percy’s Gentlemen’s Club and Leather Horses made their home. Between the eager faces of boys barely old enough to be considered men, there walked other, worn faces. Men who knew no satisfaction in their lives outside of the brief moments that resulted after transferring money through a simple touch on their comm card in exchange for a private dance or an illicit kiss. Cody felt camaraderie with those men, the hopeless and the lonely.
He continued on, though, without enough money available through his comm card to purchase any services from a live stripper. In fact, he no longer possessed enough money to make use of the virtual holostrippers in the cruddy private viewing chambers on Racine Avenue.
Despite his eagerness to leave Chicago, he had no discernible means to accomplish that feat. Tomorrow, he hoped, that might all change. But he had learned not to count on anything as ephemeral as hope and optimism.
AUTHOR Bio and Links
I grew up in Normal, Illinois. After a regular (it’s hard, but I refuse to make a pun of it) childhood in Normal, I left for the University of Iowa to get a degree in Biomedical Engineering. But, I couldn’t give up reading and writing and there really wasn’t enough of that in engineering (unless you’re into thick, no-thrills books on thermodynamics and polymer physics). I picked up a second degree in English while working on the Biomedical Engineering degree and have since counted myself fortunate for making that decision. Iowa City, North America’s only official UNESCO City of Literature, is a thriving hotbed of writers and readers, with some of the best visiting the city for their renowned workshop or famous authors dropping by to read a story they’ve written and chat. I had the opportunity to meet plenty of great writers and storytellers that inspired me to keep writing, even when I graduated and entered a doctoral program at the University of Maryland for Bioengineering.
Today, when I’m not writing and reading, I’m primarily working on tissue engineered blood vessels, gearing my work for children with congenital heart defects. I get to work with awesome 3D printing technologies and am always astounded by the rapidly advancing technologies coursing through the veins of universities and research settings. Much of my writing has been inspired by those advancements and my conversations with other researchers, scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, and many others interested in our evolving world.
Author Website: anthonyjmelchiorri.com
Goodreads Author link: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8260729.Anthony_J_Melchiorri
Goodreads book: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22999126-the-god-organ