Forty-Eight X: The Lemuria Project – author interview – Barry Pollack

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Paperback Writer welcomes contemporary science fiction thriller, Forty-Eight X :The Lemuria Project (Medallion Press, December ‘09).

About Forty-Eight X
On the tropical island of Diego Garcia in the middle of the Indian Ocean, the United States has gathered together its most talented geneticists to work on the top-secret Lemuria Project. These secret experiments create a revolutionary new warrior so strong and so valiant that the age of casualties of war would become only a sad and distant memory. Haunted by a dark and dangerous past, Colonel Link McGraw is the officer chosen to train these new soldiers. He understands the rules of engagement and agrees to serve his country, reestablish his professional reputation, and secure his freedom in the process. As a trained and commissioned officer in the United States Armed Forces, McGraw knows what constitutes the perfect soldier: following orders without question. When Egyptian beauty Fala al Shodaha and Israeli Joshua Krantz, scientists in their own right, stumble across the top-secret project, they are determined to uncover its true nature and pursue their quest to Diego Garcia. Tensions mount as Krantz and McGraw clash over the project—and vie for the affection of the lovely Fala. When they discover they aren’t the only ones on the island competing for her attention, shocking truths are revealed that beg the question, Is it too late to save themselves—and the entire human race—from almost certain annihilation?

Welcome to Paperback Writer.

Q:  Would you share with us how you came up with the idea for your book?

A:  I clip articles and make notes about interesting things I hear or read about. One story about the death of Robert Graham in 1997, an entrepreneur and eugenicist, got me thinking about the maligned theory of eugenics. That led to more research on eugenics and genetics in general. With the world entangled in battle with terrorism, the story of FORTY-EIGHT X: The Lemuria Project unfolded. It’s the story of a top secret US government project, code named The Lemuria Project, that gathers America’s greatest scientists on an isolated island in the middle of the Indian Ocean, provides them with unlimited resources, and a mission to genetically engineer a new kind of American soldier – a warrior that’s lethal, near invincible, stealthy, and as expendable as a bullet. The Lemuria Project is the modern day equivalent of the World War II Manhattan Project that developed the atom bomb. Lemuria’s goal is to create a genetically engineered soldier. And, just as the creation of nuclear weapons posed ethical dilemmas, so does the idea of manipulating the human genome.

Q:  Was it a light bulb moment or something that you thought about for a very long time?

A:  The idea for FORTY-EIGHT X germinated for several years but once I began to write, it took about a year to complete.

Q:  How did you come up with the title?

A:  FORTY-EIGHT X is the genetic code, the chromosome number, of the chimera – the new species, part animal, part human – created by American scientists. Lemuria or Mu is a mythological civilization some believe existed 50,000 years ago, a lost civilization like Atlantis buried beneath the sea somewhere between Australian and India. The island where the Lemuria Project is being pursued is the only dry land remnant of the undersea Lemuria mountain chain, perhaps the location of this once great civilization whose inhabitants had once achieved attributes that are only imagined today – extra sensory perception, telekinesis, astral projection, telepathy, and synesthesia.

Q:  How did you find an agent and publisher?

A:  I was unable to find an agent with the sense or sensibility to market my debut novel. Without an agent, the large presses will not read a book. So, I pursued publication with several small independent presses and was fortunate that Medallion Press appreciated my work.

Q:  Who reads you work in progress?

A:  Friends and family.

Q:  Who made a difference in the book’s quality?

A:  Medallion did an excellent job in creating the cover art. First impressions on a shelf are important.

Q:  How long did it take you to complete the first draft?

A:  Eight months with five subsequent drafts over the next four to six months.

Q:  How long did it take from start to publication?

A:  Nearly three years.

Q:  Do you have any advice for new authors?

A:  Be independently wealthy with a lot of free time and a penchant for putting words to paper. Or, have a family or spouse that allows that liberty. Or, have a paying job and an insatiable desire to write down your ideas with the hope that others will find them of interest. But just write for the joy of writing because only a handful of writers will ever earn their living solely from writing.

Thank you, Barry Pollack, for stopping by Paperback Writer on your virtual book tour. I wish you continued success through the rest of you tour.

Read the excerpt!
“The history of men at war is writ large with stories of heroes,” General Shell had said before sending him off, “stories of young men who fight and often die for noble, sometimes ignoble causes. Their actions sometimes elevate them to superhuman or biblical status. They become the legend of an overmatched David defeating a Goliath; a blind and bound Samson defeating the haughty Philistines. But remember glory is fleeting and the ends of war for survivors are most often filled with nightmares, with trinkets of ribbons and medals, and uniforms which will soon no longer fit.” The general then paused fitfully. “Put an end to it, Link,” he said, pressing on McGraw the firmest of handshakes.

That farewell speech reminded McGraw of his own heroes:
Sidney Coulter, Eagle scout, valedictorian, age 19, died in battle, Amsar, Afghanistan.
Jaime Garza, Mexican immigrant, father of two, age 24, died by RPG, Ramal.
Richard Neilson, car salesman, poker player extraordinaire, age 20, died by IED, Baghdad.
There were plenty, too many, more. Perhaps with this success, he thought, there would soon be no more.
McGraw had made one adjustment on the eve of battle that he knew his general would have frowned upon. He had given each of his troops a shot of brandy. Not enough to get drunk but enough to slightly dull the frontal cortex that controls executive functioning, that area of the brain that breeds doubt. A little alcohol, he believed, allowed one to think more simply, to dull the noises on the periphery. He took his own swig of the red from his canteen. He too needed to dull his doubts.
The village he was attacking was a terrorist camp and the men there were not novices and not innocent. They were well trained soldiers who had killed many times before. They not only professed that they were unafraid to die, but that they were eager to die for their cause.

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