My inter view with Jay Hartlove for Daughter Cell
Tell us a little about Daughter Cell?
Daughter Cell is a medical thriller about cloning that explores the nature of the soul. It’s the story of two brilliant men, lifelong friends, who come down on opposing sides of playing God with cutting edge medical science. As the cover synopsis says, it’s a story about too much power driven by too much passion.
What was the inspiration for Daughter Cell?
This story resulted from a collision between Frankenstein and the loss of a child. Frankenstein is one of those great archetypal myths that makes you question your own view of the value of life. I have two daughters, one eight and one turning thirteen, and wanting to protect them is big part of who I am. Once I set these two concepts side by side, the puzzle pieces pretty much snapped themselves together. What if someone who had discovered a Frankenstein-like secret then had his own discovery used against him with the result of losing a child. At first is seems like a wild, out-of-the-blue idea, but it came together naturally.
Is Daughter Cell part of a series or a stand-alone book?
It is number two in a series of three. To avoid “middle episode disease,” The Chosen and Daughter Cell are written as sequential but separate adventures of the psychiatrist detective Sanantha Mauwad. The third book in the series is called Isis Rising. Sanantha is the detective in all three books. In Isis Rising, the reader discovers the overarching storyline that ties all three books together.
Who do you see yourself as the most in your books?
I Method Act all my characters. I have to know them inside and out so they can help me figure out how they should react to the plot twists I throw at them. My main characters are educated, bright, and resourceful. These stories are thrillers full of suspense and mystery. The players in these stories have to have the intellect and the personalities needed to solve and deal with the complexities. I guess I identify most with my detective, Sanantha, even though she is a woman of color and a Voodoo practitioner and I am an Episcopalian white man. She is the third party helper who can see though to the truth. I try to be that to the people in my life as well.
Tell the readers a little about yourself.
I have been writing professionally for over thirty years, starting with the fantasy role playing game Supergame in 1980. I have written a couple of novels that I did not have published. I have been writing in the financial services industry throughout that period, writing policies and procedures, compliance rules, and the like. I used to do competition amateur costuming mostly at science fiction conventions. I was an internationally award-winning costumer long before anyone thought up the word cosplay. The Chosen is my first published novel. I have had a couple of my ghost stories published in the Hugo Award winning Drink Tank.
Is there plans for a sequel to Daughter Cell?
Yes. Isis Rising takes Desiree, the survivor of the cloning disaster in Daughter Cell, and teams her up with Joseph, the demon henchman who is essentially the last man standing at the end of The Chosen. In first two books, Sanantha is the detective trying to help her clients. In the third book, Sanantha is the target of evil, and Desiree and Joseph come to her rescue. While Daughter Cell is a smaller scale, very personal story, Isis Rising returns to the globe-trotting, multiple storyline whirlwind we saw in The Chosen.
If you could spend the day with any writer dead or alive, who would it be and why?
Michael Crichton. I actually saw him once at a resort hotel in a casual setting, and I seriously considered introducing myself, but I chickened out. His combination of science fiction and suspense in a thriller frame is the very model of what I am trying to do with this series. He never paused when combining genres to tell his stories, and I really admire that courage. I was thrilled recently when a critic favorably compared my work to Crichton’s. It made me feel like I had done my job right.
Which of your characters would you like to spend the most time with?
The character I have spent the most time with is Sanantha, since she is in all of these books. I’d like to see her take a vacation and just let life happen around her for a while. She spends so much time and energy trying to make sense of things in these stories, I kind of feel bad for her.
Who is the most favorite character you created?
I am quite fond of Joseph. He is unbelievably powerful, I mean he is an archangel, but all through The Chosen he runs around trying to do the right thing for his boss, the madman magician Silas Alverado. He is so put upon and so taxed and so willing to help, but things keep spinning out of control, even for him. It felt good to give him a break at the end of The Chosen, and it really feels good to bring him back in Isis Rising.
Who is the least favorite character you created?
The villain in Daughter Cell. I can’t say much else without giving too much away. After contemplating evil over this whole series, I think I really hit the nail on the head with this character. Even more than Silas, this one needs a warning label: run away and be afraid.
What would you do differently in your writing career?
Get serious sooner. Writing fiction was a hobby for decades. Had I realized how much fun it is to really buckle down and produce quality material, I would have gladly taken it up sooner and had many more books out.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Writing is just words on paper that are easily changed. Even words you know you are going to change are better than a blank page. The act of choosing words to write will focus your thoughts better than any navel gazing. Seeing the words you have written will make it easier to edit than trying to get it right the first time. All writing is an iterative process. The first draft is never the finished product. No actor ever tackled a role without rehearsal. No writer should ever expect to sit down and type a finished story. So just write.
My seminar on how to motivate yourself to finish a novel is a free download on my blog at http://jayhartlove.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/so-you-want-to-write-a-novel.pdf.
Where can we find your books?
The Chosen and Daughter Cell are both available online as downloads and hardcopies from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online book sellers. Barnes & Noble carries the books as a stock item in their bookstores. You may have to ask your favorites bookstore to order them, since my distribution is not that wide yet. The books are published by a traditional small press called Damnation Books in Petaluma, California. They aren’t hard to find.