The Catalyst by Boyd Morrison

By Michael F. Stewart

I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Boyd Morrison for his release of ROGUE WAVE. Since then he’s gone on to publish THE VAULT, which garnered a starred PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY review, no mean feat. And now comes THE CATALYST, also through Simon and Schuster and available this December.

We had a lot of fun in that last interview and this one promises to be no different. I have a surprise for Boyd. This is sort of like when you’re watching THE JERRY SPRINGER SHOW and Jerry reveals that the man on stage is in fact a woman and now dating the daughter she/he gave up for adoption. Well, not quite that big a surprise, but you’ll have to read on to see.

First the book (I know how to hold your suspense, just like Boyd).

Chemistry grad student Kevin Hamilton is sure his advisor Michael Ward’s death in a suspicious fire was no accident.

The young Ph.D. candidate received a cryptic message from Ward just before the fatal blaze–a warning that their recent collaboration on a supposedly failed experiment had actually brought about one of the most important discoveries of the century: Adamas, a chemical process worth billions, and one with the potential to topple entire industries. Now on the run with his girlfriend, Erica, the two must elude relentless assassins long enough to protect the top-secret information, thwart a global conspiracy, and save their own lives before time runs out.

See. I want to read on, too.

Chris Kuzneski, NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author, agrees. “Boyd Morrison is a rising star in the thriller world.”

Let’s hear more from Boyd Morrison. Welcome, Boyd!

You know if I misspell your name it’s BODY. Great name for a thriller author. Just saying. Anyways, this isn’t our first interview and it’s also not the first time THE CATALYST has seen the light of day, is it? How long has it being since you first wrote it? And what did that mean when updating it?

I wanted to use “The Body” as my name on the book cover, but Jesse Ventura wouldn’t let me.

When I self-published three books a couple of years ago, one of them was THE CATALYST (although under the title THE ADAMAS BLUEPRINT). Completed in 1996, it was the first novel I ever wrote. After submitting it to a few agents, I reached the towering number of five rejections and gave up on it. My wife still is impressed by my dedication and persistence.

After S&S signed me to a contract for THE ARK and THE VAULT (the first two books in the Tyler Locke series), they also offered a contract for ROGUE WAVE and THE CATALYST, my two standalone thrillers. While ROGUE WAVE was relatively fresh, references in THE CATALYST had become decidedly stale (“Guess what! I’m calling you with a cell phone! From a car!). The creators of Google and Facebook were still in grade school, and smart phones were cordless phones that would beep if the battery was dying. With the advances in technology since I first wrote the book, I had to go back and do a complete rewrite to make it into a contemporary thriller because we didn’t think a mid-90s period piece would go over well.

Wow, so those manuscripts collecting dust on my hard drive may one day be worth millions? Fantastic! You’re cover copy hooked me because I really want to know what chemical process could topple entire industries. Can you tell us? Or is that top secret?

It’s not as top secret as the twist in THE SIXTH SENSE (spoiler alert: Bruce Willis is a dude!).  But I think the readers will have more fun if they find out along with Kevin and Erica.

Okay, I have to ask you about Microsoft with whom you worked for several years. I grew up on ColecoVision but I sneak down to play on my daughters’ Xbox at night. What was it like working at Microsoft and in their gaming division no less? Did you go to sleep with images of gun battles emblazoned under your eyelids?

My first console was Pong, so I’m 178 years old in videogame time. I won’t lie to you. It was torture working at Microsoft, playing game after game, day after day, a dismal experience made worse by the free soda and top-notch cafeterias. Now I spend my blissful days staring at a blank screen unmarred by exciting images and cool sound effects.

So, here’s the secret I promised. I like my detective work. And I managed to get something from your days at Microsoft.

My co-workers talked? Does a blood oath mean nothing these days?

You’re not going to like this.

I swear the polo ponies did not come from Bill Gates’ house.

I broke into the office of your former HR Manager, Nora Smith, and I hit pay dirt. The original questions to your Microsoft interview. Boring our readers might think? You’d be surprised what Microsoft asks of its candidates. For confidentiality reasons I can only ask the questions, but here we go … I’ll twist them to fit our thriller theme.

Why is a book rectangular? Seriously, if Microsoft asks questions like, “Why is a manhole cover round?” I can ask about shapes.

Because if books were round, they would fall off the shelf.

What went into the design of THE CATALYST to make it the perfect thriller?

Copious amounts of medicinal substances.

How would you test to make sure THE CATALYST is indeed perfect?

Attach electrodes to the reader’s vital regions. If the reader needs more than one “encouragement buzz” per chapter to stay awake, the book still needs work.

You’ve got someone working for you for seven days and only a thriller novel to pay them with. The novel is segmented into seven consecutive chapters. You must give them one chapter at the end of every day. If you are only allowed to tear the book at two places, how do you pay your worker?

Aha, trick question. You can’t tear an ebook. I would email the PDFs one day at a time. Then the employee would come in and mow me down with an Uzi when he realized he was being paid in thriller novel chapters.

Which way should the key turn in a car door to unlock it?

You should insert the key between the window and door frame, then yank it up in a smooth motion.

Why do you want to be a thriller writer?

Because it would allow me do my job in my underwear without being arrested.

How many thriller authors does it take to screw in a light bulb?

Six. One to screw it in and five to drink with him while he complains about how difficult it was.

How would you explain a thriller novel to a kindergarten kid? (Feel free to use sound effects)

You know when you and your friends go into the back yard and run around like screaming  mental patients imagining that bug-eyed aliens are invading the sand box and the only way to protect it is to shoot them with your fingers, blow them up with dirt clod grenades, or melt their brains with the power of your burps? If you wrote that down, it would be a thriller novel. And sometimes you get paid for it. I know! That is silly.

What is your favorite thriller novel, and how would you improve it?

Jurassic Park. Replace the velociraptors with giant fanged Kardashian sisters. Scary!

Hey, look, you get the job!

I’ve got one last burning question that Microsoft forgot to ask: Can you tell us about your next book, THE TRIGGER?

Tyler Locke is back for a third adventure in which he fights bad guys, survives explosions, and saves the world. For a further hint, the British version will be called THE ROSWELL CONSPIRACY.

Thanks, Boyd, and good luck with the launch of THE CATALYST!

*****

Boyd Morrison has a Ph.D. in industrial engineering and has worked for NASA, Microsoft’s Xbox Games Group, and Thomson-RCA. In 2003, he fulfilled a lifelong dream and became a JEOPARDY! champion. He is also a professional actor who has appeared in commercials, stage plays, and films. He lives with his wife in Seattle.

To learn more about Boyd, please visit his website.

 

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