Please welcome Joshua Alan Parry to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Virus Thirteen, Joshua's debut, will be published on March 26, 2013. You may read Joshua's Guest Blog - Pink Girl in a Cruel World - here.
TQ: Welcome to The Qwillery
Joshua: Why thank you. Happy to quip with you.
TQ: When and why did you start writing?
Joshua: I don’t remember ever not writing. Thanks to my elementary school, Shady Grove, every student had an opportunity to be “published” i.e. have their work laminated and bound. I created several books then. The first full work that I can remember writing/illustrating was called “Run Turkey Run,” a story of a young turkey, torn from his family, with only the bleak future of Thanksgiving dinner to look forward to. I cut the book into the shape of a turkey with the stereotypical feathers protruding above in yellow, orange, and browns. You will be glad to know that I wasn’t a sadistic child so it has happy ending. It involves the protagonist, plucked naked, streaking off into the sunset. I won’t ruin the rest of it because I recently rewrote it with an anti-factory farming slant with the hopes of breaking into the ethical kids book market….if that exists.
TQ: What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
Joshua: I never write without music. I wrote the entirety of Virus Thirteen while listening to either jazz or electronic music. Both, I feel, have the ability to bring about that meditative state that is perfect for writing.
TQ: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Joshua: Panster? A brief Google search explains that this is someone who forsakes outlines and flies by the seat of one’s pants.
Definitely a panster.
I prefer to call it Jazz writing, secondary to the heavy improvisational component. This form of writing is just more entertaining for me. I don’t like to tell my characters what to do. Characters with their own free will have the tendency to surprise us. I’ve tried outlines before but once a panster, always a panster. I end up saying things to myself like, “You know what? This character wants to go on a walk right now. I don’t know why, but we will figure it out as we go. To quote Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Life is a journey, not a destination.”
TQ: What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?
Joshua: Perfection is the enemy of good. I could sit and rewrite a paragraph, literally, for hours. I know I just need to cut myself off and move on, but I find it extremely difficult.
TQ: Describe Virus Thirteen in 140 characters or less.
Joshua: To tweet, or not to tweet? That is with the question.
To save his family, a scientist must confront a psychopathic terrorist, armed government agents, and an invisible killer, Virus Thirteen.
TQ: What inspired you to write Virus Thirteen?
Joshua: I have long contemplated what the future would look like in a world where the human genome can easily be altered, especially where these scientific advancements would lead us as a species and its ultimate repercussions.
TQ: What sort of research did you do for Virus Thirteen?
Joshua: I completed a molecular genetics internship at a biotech during college. I modeled the GeneFirm complex where most of the novel takes place after this experience. I also ended up with a great deal of unintentional research from my undergraduate and graduate degree programs, which was convenient to say the least.
TQ: Who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?
Joshua: The protagonist was the most challenging character to write. I didn’t want to create the typical hero. I wanted him to be a real person, that is to have plenty of his own weaknesses and flaws, but in the same stroke, I didn’t want him to be so real that he was unappealing.
Agent Marnoy was the easiest character to write for. He has had a difficult life with a good deal of suffering; as a result his emotional range is markedly limited. I’m not saying he is a one-dimensional character, however. Quite to the contrary, I believe he is one of the more interesting and complex characters in the book.
TQ: Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in Virus Thirteen?
My favorite scene is when we discover that one of the characters has a dark genetic secret while they are showering. It really helps explain why they are the way they are. The imagery and emotions are vivid making for a very symbolic scene.
TQ: What's next?
Joshua: I’ve got a surgical residency to get through, which I can safely say is time consuming. However, in my limited free time I’ve got lots of ideas and can’t wait to resume writing. I recently finished the second draft of a new novel that veers away from science fiction and takes us into an unforgiving desert to explore religion, sex, and insanity.
TQ: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.
Joshua: My pleasure.
About Virus Thirteen
Tor Books, March 26, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 320 pages
An irreverent and contagious thriller from debut author Joshua Alan Parry
Scientists James Logan and his wife, Linda, have their dream careers at the world’s leading biotech company, GeneFirm, Inc. But their happiness is interrupted by a devastating bioterrorist attack: a deadly superflu that quickly becomes a global pandemic. The GeneFirm complex goes into lockdown and Linda’s research team is sent to high-security underground labs to develop a vaccine.
Above ground, James learns that GeneFirm security has been breached and Linda is in danger. To save her he must confront a desperate terrorist, armed government agents, and an invisible killer: Virus Thirteen.
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