Introducing ITW 2012 Debut Author Brian Andrews and his novel, THE CALYPSO DIRECTIVE. According to Brian, the occasion is worthy of coining a new term – excitifying – the combining of exciting with terrifying.
I learned Brian is a Navy vet who served as an officer abroad a nuclear submarine in the Pacific. So when I burrowed deeper into my assignment, subconsciously I was expecting a novel played out against either a military or a seaworthy background. So I was surprised to learn I was wrong on both counts – surprised, not disappointed.
Brian’s THE CALPYSO DIRECTIVE puts the reader smack in the middle of a moral, ethical, and medical conundrum involving the human genome, patents, and greed. And did I mention assassins and a shadowy organization called the Think Tank?
THE CALPYSO DIRECTIVE opens with Will Foster making a daring escape from a medical facility where he has been held captive for 155 days. Once free, he discovers he is no longer in the United States and is rather shocked to find he is in Prague of the Czech Republic. He knows the pharmaceutical giant Vyrogen wants something in his body and wants it so desperately they send assassins after him.
In the midst of these discoveries, Will knows he must have help to learn what makes him so special. He turns to his former lover and microbiologist Julie Ponte who lives in Vienna. The two join forces and are hunted across Europe. As they stay a miniscule step ahead of their enemies, the Think Tank is working to discover the truth. As Shelfari says, “An unprecedented genetic mutation, an underground think tank, and an unscrupulous pharmaceutical company collide in THE CALYPSO DIRECTIVE.”
So what gave Brian his idea for CALYPSO? It was an article about a lawsuit over gene patents. “I couldn’t believe that patents were being granted on genes as they were identified on the human genome! Patent protection is supposed to be granted for invention not for discovery. The patenting of human genes is so fundamentally wrong, that is stoked a fire in my belly.
“In my opinion the best stories are the ones that take a controversial idea, ask what is the worst that could happen, and then take the reader there. The worst-case scenario for gene patenting is stealing another human being’s genome, patenting their genetic material, and profiting from it. This issue is at the heart of CALYPSO.”
Besides being at the heart of CALYPSO, it is also key to one of the most difficult aspects Brian found in writing his novel. The part of writing an exciting thriller was a given for this author who loves the genre, but he also wanted to incorporate two moral issues: 1) “How does a moral actor feel and behave when forced to choose between a path of self-sacrifice or self-interest? 2) What are the costs associated with a utilitarian belief of serving the greatest good for the greatest number of people?”
“It was a struggle,” he said, “to weave these elements into the story without coming off like I’m preaching or waxing philosophical. Ultimately, I decided to go the unobtrusive route and let the characters’ actions and thoughts reveal these themes as the story unfolded. The risk with this approach is that the themes go unnoticed.”
Brian started writing THE CALYPSO DIECTIVE in 2003. His New Year’s resolution for 2010 was to finish it and find an agent. In April, he started sending out blind queries to agents and garnered only rejections. While at a Backspace conference that year he heard about ITW and AgentFest. He attended CraftFest and at AgentFest met who would be his first agent during a three-minute pitch. Six months later he had a signed contract with Skyhorse. Then, “while CALYPSO was being edited, my agent decided to retire, which sent me into a tailspin,” Brian said. “My editor at Skyhorse introduced me to Phyllis Westberg of Harold Ober Associates, and now I can proudly say I’m once again a ‘taken’ author. To be represented by the same agency as legends such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Agatha Christie, William Faulkner, and J.D. Salinger is humbling (and quite a boost to the spirit).
One thing Brian would like readers of the Big Thrill to know is that a historical subplot, meant to be an origin story for his protagonist Will Foster, in the original CALYPSO DIRECTIVE blossomed into a stand alone novella. RING OF FLOWERS goes back to 1665 when bubonic plague is sweeping England and tells the tale of how Will Foster’s paternal ancestor is born with a genetic mutation that will change the world 345 years later. RING OF FLOWERS is available as a free e-book.
Next on Brian’s agenda is another novel featuring the Think Tank and a mystery novel. He is staying mum on the subject of the mystery but had this to say: “The next Think Tank novel follows ‘the tank’ as they investigate a chain of accidental deaths of CEO’s from Fortune 500 companies. Suspecting foul play, they must unravel the mystery and stop the malevolent entity behind a plan to wreak havoc on key elements of the US economy and infrastructure.”Definitely something to look forward to!
For those of you planning to attend ThrillerFest this year, take a minute to say hello to Brian, cheer him at the Debut Author breakfast, and have him sign your copy of THE CALYPSO DIRECTIVE.
Brian Andrews is a US Navy veteran who served as an officer aboard a 688 class nuclear submarine in the Pacific. He graduated summa cum laude from Vanderbilt University with a degree in psychology. He is a Park Leadership Fellow and holds a Masters degree from Cornell University. Brian lives in “Tornado Alley” with his wife and daughter.