There have been only a handful of authors in the world who could be compared to “the next” Michael Crichton, but New York Times best selling author Scott Sigler has been. Simon R. Green, one of my favorite authors and the creator of the imaginative Nightside series said this about Sigler: “Michael Crichton may be gone, but he has a worthy successor in Scott. This book takes thriller and science fiction conventions and slams them together to make something new and fascinating.” That’s high praise indeed. But I can see why there’s such a comparison. His scientific horror thrillers can literally rivet the reader in their seats as they soak in one word after the next.
But besides this awesome comparison with a master storyteller, I look to Scott as one of the great author success stories…someone to give hope to the throng of struggling writers out there (like me) that the dream really can happen. You really can become a huge success in the literary world by following a less-than-traditional route.You see, Scott has a huge number of rabid followers. His fans are die-hard, to say the least (as can be attested to the fact that he was the Champion of this year’s Megalith Thriller Author Smackdown…a contest driven simply by the number of votes by fans they received…and trust me, Scott’s competition was fierce).
But he didn’t start out that way. Like so many authors, he struggled to be noticed. He had written a fantastic book, Ancestor, and chose to take a path that was…very unconventional in the road to publication. He turned it into a podcast. That’s right…a podcast first. Then publication. “I wrote ANCESTOR from 1996 to 2005, maybe ten drafts,” Scott told me. “I podcast starting September 2005. We put it out in print on April 1, 2007 from Dragon Moon Press (small Canadian publisher). That book hit #7 overall on Amazon.com, #1 in Horror, #1 in SciFi. That success led to the print deal with Crown Publishing (a division of Random House). ANCESTOR was part of that deal. Now it’s been re-written with Crown’s editors and is coming out in hardcover on June 22, 2010.”
In between that time, Scott’s written and published a number of other books, but with the re-release of Ancestor, he’s come full circle. So, what exactly is ancestor about? Let me share the synopsis with you:
Every five minutes, a transplant candidate dies while waiting for a compatible heart, a liver, a kidney. Imagine a technology that could provide those life-saving transplant organs for a nominal fee … and imagine what a company would do to monopolize that technology.
On a remote island in the Canadian Arctic, PJ Colding leads a group of geneticists who have discovered this holy grail of medicine. By reverse-engineering thousands of animal genomes, Colding’s team has dialed back the evolutionary clock and re-created the progenitor of all mammals. The method? Illegal. The result? A computer-engineered living creature, an animal whose organs can be implanted in any person, with no chance of transplant rejection.
There’s just one problem: these ancestors are not the docile herd animals that Colding’s team envisioned. Instead, the work has given birth to something big, something evil … something very, very hungry.
As creators become prey in an ultimate battle for survival, Colding and the woman he loves must fight to survive — even as government agents close in to shut the project down, and the deep-pocketed company backing this research reveals its own cold-blooded agenda.
Sounds pretty good, eh? Intense even. Well, check out the book trailer too!
Recently, I had a chance to sit down and talk with Scott about his writing, his projects, and just thoughts in general. Here’s what he had to say:
1) Tell us about your newest book “Ancestor” in your own words. What’s it about?
It’s a story of science gone awry, of course. Biotech company wants to save the world and make a fortune, but accidentally creates a monster instead. Truly a tale of what can happen when hubris, greed, and madness drive scientific experimentation past the brink of reason.
2) My readers are always interested in hearing where the inspiration for books come from…what gave you the idea for such a chilling tale?
Back when I first wrote this in 2002, Craig Venter had just announced he wanted to create a living bacteria from lab chemicals — reverse engineering life. I was fascinated. Interestingly, Venter went on to do just that, after taking a few years off to map the human genome. And just a few weeks ago, more ANCESTOR science came to life: now Venter has created a self-replicating virus starting from four bottles of chemicals in the lab.
3) You have a few books under your belt…besides Ancestor, if a person was going to start reading your books, which one would you recommend they read first and why?
Well, you know I’d otherwise say ANCESTOR, but if they were to go to another book, probably INFECTED is the way to go. It’s generally well-liked, and there’s a sequel ready to go in CONTAGIOUS if you like it and read it and want more.
4) What are your biggest influences (literary, TV, movies, etc.)? What do you feel you draw from most when you’re writing a novel?
I am a big fan of science, and get a lot of my inspiration for stories from what I read in popular science magazines and blogs. I tend to create my stories from mashing together two or more ideas I find interesting, and seeing where that takes me.
5) What’s in store for the future of Scott Sigler fans? What can they be looking forward to next?
Well, ANCESTOR comes out in hardcover next week, and I’ll be on tour for a month supporting that. Then I have a week or so to rest at the end of July, then I start writing PANDEMIC, which is the third book in the INFECTED series. And THE STARTER comes out in hardcover at the end of August from Dark Øverlord Media. That’s the sequel to THE ROOKIE, which we put out last year. I’ll be podcasting ANCESTOR then THE STARTER over at scottsigler.com, as always.
6) If there was one thing you wanted my readers to know about you or Ancestor or any of your books, what would it be?
ANCESTOR is really a coming full circle for my career. I started podcasting ANCESTOR in 2005, and it was my first published book, in trade paper back by Dragon Moon Press in 2007. The Amazon rush and success of that book is really what made it happen for me with New York publishing. So now here we are trying to chart in the Top 15 on the New York Times Bestseller list, proving that new media and podcast novelists are here to stay. Folks can check out the trailer and learn more about it over at http://scottsigler.com/.