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Interview with Author Kira Peikoff
One of the best suspense/thriller novels published in 2014 is Kira Peikoff’s No Time to Die. The subject matter, Bioethics and specifically the science of aging, is fascinating, and the writing style is a cut above even many bestselling thriller authors today. The book is well-researched, and definitely worth reading. Peikoff, while fairly new to the suspense/thriller genre, is a seasoned journalist, having been previously published numerous times. As part of her publicity tour for the book, she was gracious enough to grant me an online interview to introduce her to BellaOnline readers. I think you’ll agree that it’s fun to get to know an up-and-coming author – it seems that we’re reading a book written by a friend, rather than some unknown unreachable entity.
What follows are my questions and her answers. Her agent also sent along questions and answers from another interview, so you can get to know Kira especially well. She is not only beautiful, but can actually think (and write) – a rare combination nowadays! Due to the length, I have published the second interview in a separate article, Kira Peikoff Discusses her book, No Time To Die.
Q: Journalism and Bioethics seem worlds apart; what made you decide to pursue a Masters degree in such a seemingly unrelated subject to your journalism degree?
Peikoff: I had always known that I enjoyed telling stories whether fictional or real, so journalism was a natural route for me to pursue in college. It wasn't until later--through a variety of reporting internships--that I realized I was interested in telling stories related to the intersection of science, health, and policy. I came to see that cutting-edge advancements in medical progress could be urgently exciting and personal, but that they also could be ethically challenging. This field interested me enough to go to school to formally study it, so that in the end I'm better equipped to write more informed and credible stories.
Q: Was it necessary to do a lot of research for this book, or did you rely on your own knowledge?
Peikoff: I did a great deal of research into the genetics of aging, mainly by taking an informal crash course with one of the world's leading researchers in this area, Dr. Richard Walker. He is at the forefront of his field, and was generous enough with his time to walk me through the details I needed to get straight for my book.
Q: In No Time to Die, are any of the characters based on real people, or are any of the scenarios based on real events?
Peikoff: Yes, the main character of Zoe is based on the real-life person of Brooke Greenberg, a teenager (now deceased) who had stopped aging as a toddler. Her case still continues to mystify researchers, who hypothesize that she may have had a gene mutation responsible for her lack of growth--a switch in her DNA that could lead to identifying the genetic fountain of youth. Research is ongoing, since 6 similar cases have been found and are now under study.
Q: While writing No Time to Die, what part of the story was the most fun to write?
Peikoff: Without giving away spoilers, I most enjoyed writing Part 3 of the story, where the characters end up in an exciting location that's central to the plot--and secret from the rest of the world.
Q: Are there authors that you love to read who have influenced your writing style?
Peikoff: I enjoy any story well told, regardless of genre. Some current favorite authors are Curtis Sittenfeld, Lisa Unger, and Gillian Flynn.
Q: Were there any major challenges in getting your first book published?
Peikoff: Oh, yes. Finding an agent took about a year and a ton of form rejection letters. Once I found mine though, she pretty quickly found my first publisher.
Q: What is the most difficult part of writing for you? Do you ever experience writer’s block?
Peikoff: The hardest part for me is coming up with a premise I love, and then turning that abstract idea into the concrete events of a logically structured, fast-paced, and hopefully gripping story. I spend about a month just outlining before I write. So by the time I get to chapter one, I know the whole arc of the narrative and I rarely get writer's block. If I do, it's because some element I planned isn't going to work after all, and then I have to re-think it. As I get up close with the characters and the story, I refine the outline as necessary.
Q: When writing a book, do you start with an outline of the entire story, beginning to end, or do you develop the story as you write?
Peikoff: Ha, see above.
Q: Although your writing is exceptional, and it is doubtful that anyone with a brain would give No Time to Die a negative review, how would you react if someone panned your book?
Peikoff; Thank you! Every reader is entitled to his or her opinion. Art is subjective, so you're not going to please everybody. That said, I think any writer who reads a terrible review of her book is bound to feel a little disappointed before shaking it off.
Q: When giving interviews, are there questions you would like to be asked? Please tell us what those questions are and the answers.
Peikoff: One question could be: Where can readers meet me if they want to get a signed book? I will be doing three live events--in NYC, New Jersey, and in Laguna Beach, California. Check my website for details: www.KiraPeikoff.com
Q: Do you have any advice for new writers?
Peikoff: Take a writing workshop to go over the fundamentals of craft. Read in the genre you want to write in. Be prepared for rejections. If your budget allows, hire a freelance editor to go over your work once you've taken it as far as you can. And always, always be persistent.
Q: Are there other novels in the works?
Peikoff: Yes, I've just wrapped up my next novel. The Network and Galileo return, but this time, they're developing a cutting-edge new drug that blurs the line between life and death. When they test it on a drowned woman, they are able to successfully revive her. But when she wakes up, she shocks them all by revealing that she was murdered.
Kira Peikoff is a journalism graduate of New York University who has written for The New York Times, Slate Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Psychology Today, The Daily News, The Orange County Register, Newsday and New York magazine on a wide range of subjects. She published her first book, Living Proof, in 2012 and has worked in the editorial departments of New York publishing houses. She is currently at work on her third thriller, freelancing for major media outlets and attending Columbia University’s Master of Science program in Bioethics.
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