A sci-fi thriller that asks the questions…
What makes us human…
What makes us unique…
And what makes us kill?
Ten years ago, Stefan Korsak’s younger brother was kidnapped. Not a day has passed that Stefan hasn’t thought about him. As a rising figure in the Russian mafia, he has finally found him. But when he rescues Lukas, he must confront a terrible truth-his brother is no longer his brother. He is a trained, genetically-altered killer. Now, those who created him will do anything to reclaim him. And the closer Stefan grows to his brother, the more he realizes that saving Lukas may be easier than surviving him…
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Your popular Cal Leandros and Trickster novels are both urban fantasy series, but Chimera is a science fiction novel. What drew you to write this different kind of story? Did you discover any new challenges in writing science fiction?
I’d always been very fond of Dean Koontz’s older novels, especially Lightning and the Watchers. I actually didn’t consider them science fiction as they were set in their current time period with only the addition of (spoilers) genetic manipulation and time travel (and the time travel was particularly ingenious as it was time travel that originated in the past, not the current time period of the book.) So when people say science fiction in regards to Chimera, I have visions of hard-core sci-fi fans chasing me down and beating me with their beloved, yellowed and worn copies of Dune.
I think the label science fiction when combined with action-thriller does cover Chimera best as it, too, is set in the current time period and the advanced technology is possessed only by the antagonist (and isn’t that always the way? The bad guys get all the good toys.) And I’m drawn to write in nearly all genres…except romance. I can write an epic fight scene in a half hour and spend six hours trying to write one kiss. I’m hopelessly challenged in the romance department. That might be why I don’t have a date this weekend (grin.)
Chimera is about the genetic alteration and brain washing of humans, and one of the novel’s epigraphs, from philosopher Blaise Paschal, talks about mankind as “a novelty,” “a monster,” and “a chaos.” What can fans expect to find in this sci-fi thriller?
All that and more. It shows how an ordinary man can be far worse than an enhanced human designed for killing and nothing but killing—that what we are counts for much less than who we are and who we choose to be. In a way, this book’s theme is the opposite of The Cal Leandros Novels in which the main character is dragged down by his genes. In Chimera we see someone who rises above his manipulated genes.
Chimera has been praised as a “touching story on the nature of family, trust, and love” (Publishers Weekly) as well as being an action-packed read. Did you set out to delve into the nature of family when writing Chimera, and what related issues do you think are examined in this novel?
It’s rare that I don’t delve into the issues of family. I have no brothers or sisters, which makes those relationships a curiosity to me. And, of course, because I don’t have siblings, I tend to put the best spin possible on what lies between them. If I actually had a brother who tortured me with wedgies and whatnot, I doubt I’d find that relationship so interesting.
Your novels are known for their snarky and sometimes sardonic main characters, who don’t hesitate to share their every opinion. How much of your own personality comes through in your characters?
I once had a fan ask me how to write sarcasm or snark. I was at a loss. If you aren’t by your very nature sarcastic, I’m not sure you could write it. I believe it to be inherent (pity those about me), not learned, but I could be wrong. While my snark may come through the main characters clearly, that doesn’t mean we share the same opinion…it only means I find the appropriate sarcasm to slot into a particular situation an unwilling member of the Russian Mafia might face when forced to play miniature golf with a newly rescued, assassin-trained brother. The snark is mine; the opinions are theirs.
Who are the authors who have most influenced your own writing? Are they mostly science fiction and fantasy writers, or do you enjoy reading in other genres as well?
Stephen King (horror, horror/fantasy), Peter Straub (horror), Steven Brust (fantasy)—I love his Jhereg series and he has a fantastic ‘voice’, Robert Crais (mystery)—Elvis Cole series, Harlan Coben (mystery.)
Are you considering writing more novels in the Chimera universe? What do you imagine lies ahead for Stefan Korsak?
There’s definitely quite a huge project for him should he choose to take it on, but the novel can stand alone as well. I also have another book, half-finished, set in the Chimera universe but with different characters and different situations altogether—linked in a very unusual way through one minor character from Chimera. It’s interesting to see how one minor character can almost ruin the lives of people in not one but two books and do if quite gleefully.
What project are you diving into now? Can you share some hints about the novels you’re writing next?
I just finished writing Blackout, book six in the Cal Leandros Novels, and it should be out next year around March. Everyone is making a mad rush to YA, so I have to think should I attempt one of those. I’d like to possibly do a direct sequel to Chimera (although, again, it stands perfectly well as a stand alone novel…no sequel necessary, simply fun to do.) It would be very intriguing for Stefan to come up with a plan to save the day—and a very bad day it would be. I do have my UF Trickster Novels series as well to contemplate continuing. Only two hands and so many balls to juggle.