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By Lisa von Biela

The Genesis of Genesis

What possessed me to write THE GENESIS CODE?  Looking back, I can tell you the tale was a long time in the making, and so different layers of inspiration over the years contributed to what eventually became the novel.

To begin with, I’ve always had a fascination with the brain:  how it works, what it’s capable of, what’s in it.  For example, one of my early short stories, GIFT HORSE, concerned a full body transplant for the main character.  The story explored what it might be like to have your head grafted onto another body.  Who is the person, really?  Does identity fullyand solely reside in the brain?

Combine that brain fascination with the reality that our jobs routinely demand more and more of usin our electronic, always-connected world.  My previous career in Information Technology hammered that home to my colleagues and me on a daily basis.  Mission-critical software applications are expected to be up and available around the clock.  Computer systems are the lifeblood of global businesses, and the financial stakes reach ever higher for those systems to perform to stringent standards.  Is there some way to maximize human brain function to help employees support these demands?

Another of my obsessions is with the fundamental dichotomy of mankind’s most important inventions.  Think about it.  Name any major invention that is widely regarded as a great advance.  Can’t you also find a dark side to even the most beloved invention?  The car, for example.  It gets us to work, to play.  It provides geographic access and time savings simply not possible if we had to walk everywhere.  But of course it has a dark side.  Accidents kill.  Sometimes cars are used to deliberately kill, as when someone hell bent on destruction mows down a sidewalk full of pedestrians.  Cars can even be a method of choice for suicide.

The ethical quandary of proper testing of biotech devices is also something that interests and concerns me.  No matter the model and protocol for initial testing, at some point, if a device is meant for use in humans, it needs to be tested in humans.  What if someone found a way to test a particular device on humans without their knowledge or consent?

And greed.  Let’s not forget about greed, shall we?

All of these things come together in technothriller form in THE GENESIS CODE.  But it didn’t happen overnight.  The tale began as 24/7, one of the first short stories I tried to write back around 2000.  Never published, 24/7 contains some of the same characters as THE GENESIS CODE, but after some revisions, I came to believe I was trying to do too much in a short story format.

Eventually, there came a point where I’d had some short stories published, felt pretty comfortable with that form, and wanted to try my hand at writing a novel length work.  What to write?  I looked at my various “seed” ideas that I kept track of, and then I realized that 24/7 was a seed that had developed far enough for me to believe it had merit.

I called that manuscript 99.999 (pronounced “five nines,” which is a measurement of high-availability computer system uptime) and with some false starts and additional time needed simply to grasp for myself how to wrangle a novel-length work, I completed it in roughly two years.  Then I started law school, and took several years off from writing due to the demands of school and beginning practice in a new profession.

The most disturbing part of THE GENESIS CODE is the fact that the technology in it was the stuff of science fiction when I wrote the manuscript.  This is becoming less and less true as time goes by.  Every so often I read a news story in which technology similar to that in GENESIS is becoming reality and being used in human beings—for beneficial purposes.

At least for now.


Lisa von Biela worked in Information Technology for 25 years, and still claims there is no application she cannot break in testing. She left the field to attend the University of Minnesota Law School, graduating magna cum laude in 2009. She now practices law in Seattle, Washington.

Lisa’s first publication was in THE EDGE in 2002. She went on to publish a number of short works in various small press venues, including, TWILIGHT TIMES, DARK ANIMUS, AFTERBURNSF, and more. THE GENESIS CODE is her first novel.

To learn more about Lisa, please visit her website.