Interview With Daniel Seltzer (Leviticus, Dystopian)

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In your own words, please describe your book….

The book is, ultimately, the attempt by one man to figure out where he fits in the universe, how to answer the age-old questions: Who are we? What is our purpose? What does it mean to be human? We are continually bombarded with the notion that science holds the key to the survival of mankind. I don’t believe my protagonist (Levi Clayton Furstman) is anti-science or anti-technology, but he isn’t willing to blindly accept all technology as good, or even neutral. All science has the potential for dual-purpose and by failing to stop to consider the negative affects of our actions, we open ourselves up to potential catastrophes – even when the science appears to be harmless or even beneficial. When American scientists, in cooperation with DARPA, perfect nanotechnology and the U.S. suddenly has the power to replicate anything (technology, food, people) molecule by molecule, mankind becomes, truly, the master of our universe, almost god-like. Clay has a certain level of discomfort and mistrust of various scientific advances, and is confronted with the dilemma of whether to embrace PreVentall (a medical treatment that provides perfect health and, perhaps, eternal life) and join his wife and friends in becoming 30 years old again, or to shun it, recognizing that failing to embrace the science means that he will remain mortal as the price for remaining human.


What is the genre?

I am a huge fan of dystopian literature. This book is a futuristic dystopian novel. But it’s important to recognize that the science and technology I introduce in this book is not fantasy. The science introduced is all gleaned from advances science is currently undertaking, or attempting, mostly in the field of nanotechnology.


What inspired you to write this book?

I managed to secure a post-doctorate position at a major university researching the social and ethical implications of nanotechnology. I learned more than I could have imagined during my 2+ years. Early on, however, there was a call for papers discussing the larger, societal impact that nanotechnology would have on our lives. I tried to imagine how molecular manufacturing (a Replicator like in Star Trek, if you prefer) would change our lives. Honestly, I could not think of a single aspect of our lives that would, or even could, remain the same. At the same time, I read a theory proposed by a well-known futurist (Ray Kurzweil). He laid out his facts and came to a conclusion that was not unreasonable, but I found to be unbelievable. I don’t mean unbelievable in the sense that he erred in his facts or that he pulled his conclusion out of thin air, but rather that it was my personal conviction that his conclusion cannot be correct. So I started thinking about how I could take his scenario of facts, and still come up with a different answer – and that’s what this trilogy will do. I know I’m being a little vague here, but I don’t want to reveal too much – there are two more books and I want the readers to discover the specifics as they go along.


Will this book be a standalone or part of a series?

Hmmm. I guess I sort of responded to this question already. But, yes, this is the first of a trilogy. The second book will continue to feature Clay, but another character will take a larger role and is really the protagonist of Book 2. They will share the honor of being co-protagonists in Book 3.


What message would you like to convey with this book?

I guess my message would be that we should embrace science and scientific advancement, but at the same time we should be conscious of potential negative uses for what would appear to be beneficial science, and be aware of the road we choose. It’s the ethicist in me that simply wants the reader to look at things and question them, try to figure out what the good is, and to be aware of potential dangers. And perhaps respond to the commercialism that makes us all believe that being rich and young is the answer to all our problems.


What books are similar to this one?

A reviewer (and friend) compared this book to the works of Phillip Dick or George Orwell. While I really appreciate the compliment, I am too modest to agree. I am a big fan of Cormick McCarthy and while my book is not post-apocalyptic, I hope to capture the intense struggle that society (or its survivors) must face when confronted with a new world completely different than that which existed previously, as McCarthy did in The Road. There are also a few stories within the novel that could stand alone and which reminded another friend of O’Henry.


Where can readers find your book?

Leviticus is available from Amazon (both ebook and paperback) as well as BN.com and iTunes. Locally (Chicago area) it is available at The Book Table in Oak Park. Links to all (except iTunes) can be found at my webpage: http://daniel-seltzer.com


Can you tell us some about the writer behind the book?

In many ways, I am Clay and Clay is me. We definitely have differences, but my friends who have read it have sometimes called the main character Dan, rather than Clay.


Tell us one thing about you we wouldn’t know?

In light of the fact that Clay is somewhat non-tech, it may surprise some readers to learn that I’m actually quite comfortable with technology and have no problems with opening up computers, iPhones or other electronics to fix them and/or replace parts.

 

What has been the best moment in your writing career?

Thus far, it was completing Leviticus and actually publishing it. I liken it to taking your clothes off and running down the street. Writing is one thing. Putting it out there for the world to see is somewhat daunting in and of itself. You really expose yourself.

How do you come up with the titles of your book?

I originally was going to call Leviticus, iMeMe (with the possibility of the second called iMeYou and the third book, iMeUs). (NOTE: The iMeme was initially called the iMe.) I thought the play on iMeMe and meme was interesting, since the iMe (now iMeme) in the book really is a meme in the society I created. I learned that someone has a trademark on iMe and changed the name to the iMeme and didn’t really like iMeYou and iMeUs. It’s probably no surprise (and certainly not to anyone who has read the book) that the molecular manufacturing machines are called Genesis. That was a possibility for this book, but then Leviticus seemed a better fit.

 

How long does it take you to finish a novel?

This book took about 30 months, pen to paper – after having thought about it for some time. I hope to finish Book 2 (which I have started) in a shorter time-frame.


How can readers connect with you?

My webpage would be the best. http://daniel-seltzer.com


What are you working on now?

Book 2 of this series (When We Were Gods)


Do you have any other books already released?

No.

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