1. Bradlee, what is your new book about? To quote my tagline: “What if we had the cure for a catastrophic illness, but it lay hidden inside the blood and bones of just one man? Interweaving the styles of John Grisham and Michael Crichton, The Cure is a thriller that fuses genres while retaining its own unique voice to tell the story of Jason Kramer as he struggles with the knowledge that he is mankind’s last hope against an impending viral apocalypse.”
In short, there is a new viral pandemic spreading across the globe and no one can find the vaccine because the virus mutates too quickly. The protagonist, Jason Kramer, possesses a natural immunity that kills all strains of the bug, and when pharmaceutical magnate Phillip Porter realizes that Jason is the only source of the cure, he strives to make sure that Jason’s serum is not disseminated since Porter profits from selling supposed vaccines and other treatments for the new illness. The story thus focuses on the conflict between Jason and Phillip Porter while everyone is getting sick and dying around them. Jason obviously does not possess the tools to get the stuff out of his blood and into a vaccine, so he is somewhat helpless—as he describes it, a “genie in a bottle—all the power in the world, but no way to use it.”
So, it is really about the cure, not the disease. Most “disease” stories, like Contagion and Quarantine and The Stand, are more about the illness than the cure. This book is about the one man who is blessed/cursed to be the only source of a cure to a worldwide pandemic.
2. What inspired you to write it? When I was reading Stephen King’s novel The Stand, there was a line of dialogue in there between an Army researcher and one of the survivors of the “Captain Trips” superflu. The researcher says, in essence, “You killed it. You just killed it,” meaning that the character’s body had somehow killed the virus. I remember thinking, “Wow, how cool would that be to be immune to a plague.” But then I realized I wanted to know more about that aspect of the story: so he’s immune—then what? I wanted to explore the story more from the perspective of the man with the immunity and what that would mean to him and the rest of the world, many of whom are sick and dying. I give a nod to that source of inspiration by calling my fictional disease “Trip’s Lite.”
3. Though it is a novel, could the story ever come true? Yes, if we ever had an outbreak of a pandemic like this and if someone possessed natural immunity. I tried to write a very realistic story based on sound scientific, medical and legal principles. I believe that the outcomes I posit are pretty probable given the facts of the story. For example, I researched viral structures and gene theory and cloning and other principles to make sure the story was not absurd or unrealistic. This is why I am drawn to this type of fiction and not necessarily fantasy, since I like constructs that are supported by real world data and precepts.
5. What advice would you give a struggling writer? five words: “First, write a good book.” And then, three words: “Show, don’t tell.” And lastly, while trite, it is true: “Never give up.” I would also ask what it is they hope to gain personally from the writing experience, and depending on that answer I might encourage them to try self-publishing or academic publishing or blogging or some other variant.
6. Where do you see book publishing heading? When this issue comes up, I always think about Napster and wonder what would have happened if the music industry had embraced digital distribution models and gotten into bed with Napster instead of trying to sue them into oblivion. If the mainstream music industry had done that, there would be no iTunes today—Sony and the others would ~be~ iTunes. Similarly, I think publishing must embrace digital distribution models. If the Big Six had learned from the Napster model, there would be no Amazon Kindle today—the Big Six would ~be~ the Amazon e-book model and would have introduced the first e-reader. I do not yet see the death of print, certainly, but I do see continuing growth in e-books and digital distribution of content. This is one of the main reasons I signed with Diversion, because of the foresight they demonstrated in offering a traditional publishing model (no fees to publish) combined with digital distribution, which inherently means that everyone in the world with Internet access can immediately get a copy of your book. That is a very powerful truth, one that Diversion has, and all publishers should, embrace.
7. As an intellectual property lawyer, what do writers need to know about protecting their works against piracy in the digital era? Most importantly, they need to make sure they own the rights to their work and that they have not plagiarized or copied from some other source. It is impossible to protect rights in content, digital or otherwise, if you do not own all the rights to your work. Once they have verified that they own all the rights by ensuring they are the sole author of the work and the entire work is their original creation, then it is important to register their copyright in the work with the Library of Congress (http://www.copyright.gov/eco/). It costs $35 to register a copyright, and without it, they have no real remedies to stop infringements. Ideally, they should register their copyright as soon as the book is in final form, whatever that means to them in each case. Then, they must be vigilant in monitoring the web and other distribution modalities for acts of infringement (like someone hacking the DRM on a digital book file and making it available for download for free). Attributor is a good tool for that (http://www.attributor.com/). Lastly, they must act quickly to address suspected infringements by sending letters and emails to the infringer, blogging about the infringer, using the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, Tweeting, or whatever to let the infringer(s) know that they are on to them and will seek redress (do not defame anyone, though, or they will sue you back for defamation!). But remember that in the U.S., a copyright owner has no real remedy for acts of copyright infringement unless they have first timely registered their copyright(s).
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