Joshua Alan Parry’s brand new thriller, Virus Thirteen, will be out on the 26th, and he was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about the book, his research, and more, so please welcome him to the blog!
Also, we’ve got a copy of Virus Thirteen up for grabs, courtesy of Tor, so be sure to check out the details at the bottom of the post!
Joshua, will you tell us a bit about yourself and your background? Did you always see yourself writing books someday?
I can’t ever remember not writing. I “published”, i.e. laminated, my first book I believe in the second or third grade. In high school I was on the creative writing team (that’s right, we had one of those) and I was also a member of the creative writing club. Most of my work in high school consisted of trying to find clever ways to work in crude sexual double entendres into our open mic nights to the horrification of parental units everywhere. I don’t think too much has changed.
Later on, when choosing a college, it came down between two choices. I was either going to the University of Alaska and majoring in creative writing or going the University of Texas and majoring in molecular and cellular biology. In the end I chose the latter as I thought molecular and cellular biology would be much harder to get back into compared to creative writing if I wanted a career change.
Virus Thirteen, your brand new thriller, is out this week! Will you tell us a bit about the book and the science behind it?
Virus Thirteen takes place in a future where genetic engineering is the norm. Terrorists have released a fabricated plague and one mild mannered molecular biologist finds himself and his loved ones much closer to the action then he would like. The science in the novel isn’t far fetched by any means. The manipulation of viral genetic material is happening right now as we speak, hopefully for scientific purposes…
I’m sure your medical background helped a bit with research for Virus Thirteen. What other research did you do for the book?
I pretty much spent the last eight years of my life being educated in the fields of science and medicine and have the astronomical debt to prove it. Writing this book was cathartic in the sense that it allowed me to unload all of this information. The book is set in Austin, Texas where I completed my undergraduate training, so I had no need to research the location. Also, my senior year in college I did a molecular genetics internship at a large biotech company. I used this experience to create the GeneFirm company, the protagonist’s employer in the novel. So I would say most of my research was incidental.
What would you like to see readers take away from Virus Thirteen?
It is a cautionary tale for those who seek to limit the free will of their fellow man. In this book there are several individuals or organizations bent on controlling the lives of others, whether it be in the name of health, science, or survival. In keeping with the American spirit, I think readers will find it distasteful, as they should.
What are a few of your favorite authors or novels?
Michael Crichton is a time-tested favorite of mine. I read Jurassic Park in the 5th grade and have been hooked ever since. His work epitomizes the techno-thriller genre. His ability to meld complicated scientific topics with fast-paced suspense made him one of the most successful and popular modern authors. Close to 50% of his novels were made into movies. That’s just downright impressive.
Another favorite author of mine is Chuck Palahniuk, an author who often strays from the beaten path of the mainstream, but his dry, creatively obscene, and minimalistic writing style instantly made him a personal favorite. His novel Fight Club was a pivotal piece of work. It struck a chord with an entire generation, including myself, sick with our materialistic and overconsumptive society.
What book(s) are you reading now?
I just finished Michael Crichton’s last novel Micro, which was only half complete at the time of his death. Richard Preston helped finish it. Think Jurassic Park meets Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, where a group of graduate students, shrunk by a new technology are on the run from centipedes and other insects that are equally vicious as any Velociraptor or Tyrannosaurus Rex. I thought it was wonderful end to the glorious career of Dr. Crichton. I just wished he had more time as I think this world is at a terrible loss at his early passing.
When you manage to carve out some free time, how do you like to spend it?
If I’m not at the hospital or studying, writing, or reading, you’ll find me outside getting a dose of much needed Vitamin D, whether it be biking, hiking, running, or disc golf, it makes no difference to me.
What’s next for you this year, and beyond?
My next year of surgical residency will be devoted to research so I’m looking forward to a productive year in hopes that I may get plenty of scientific work published, both non-fictional and fictional.
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