Monday, 21 April 2014

Meet A Writer Monday Presents...

...Zvi Zaks

1. Tell me about your book A VIRTUAL AFFAIR and where you got your inspiration for it?

Just for the hell of it, I wanted to try writing pornography. The result was a short story entitled A VIRTUAL ENCOUNTER. I liked the characters and wanted to do more, so I toned down some of the explicit sexuality and continued writing. The first chapter is pretty graphic, but the rest is relatively mild. I've since written a sequel, A TERRORIST AFFAIR.

2. Do you admire your own work?

Yes. I enjoy expressing my ideas in fiction, but I also want to improve the quality of my writing.

3. Do you enjoy giving interviews?

I have to say yes. I enjoy being the center of attention.

4. Would you break a law to save a loved one?

Absolutely. There is no question that some laws are unjust and should be disobeyed. Of course, if you do so, you shouldn't complain about the punishment.

5. Is there a message in your novels you want the readers to grasp?

All of my novels have messages. The theme of VIRTUAL AFFAIR is to ask what is humanity and what is human happiness.

6. Who is your favourite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

With so many good ones out there, it's hard to choose just one, but it would have to be the legendary Isaac Asimov. His ability to develop innovative concepts into interesting stories is amazing.

7. If you could try out any job for a day (real or fictional) what would you like to try?

An astronaut. It sounds clich├ęd but I would love to actually experience being in outer space. The recent movie GRAVITY had good visuals, but I want to feel all of it--the surrounding cosmos, free-fall, the immense expanse of the globe. Sigh - it will never happen.

8. What advice would you give to someone just starting out?

Be persistent and be willing to take criticism. If rejection and negative comments discourage you, you will never learn and never grow as an author.

9. How did you chose your genre?

Science fiction has always been my favourite to read, so that's what I most like to write. I also enjoy Jewish fiction. Since there is a dearth of Jewish science fiction, that ends up being my favourite subject.

10. Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or is it all imagination?

There is an old adage, write what you know. I know my own life, so many of my own experiences are there. No one character is me, but I've gone through a lot of what the people in my books go through.

11. What’s next for you?

I'm currently writing a novel about life on a space station built to allow humanity's survival if a nuclear holocaust makes Earth uninhabitable. Next might be a historical novel about the 'vaccination wars' of a century ago. Sincere people developed logical sounding arguments to oppose this preventive measure that we today take for granted. My protagonist will be one of them.


Think how great virtual sex must be. Now think again.

Barbara is sexbot software designed to make men happy. When flabby, neurotic Jack runs tests on it, he triggers a feedback loop that awakens it. The program becomes a 'she', and discovers -- surprise --sex is not the same as happiness.

Jack and Barbara start an affair, and she learns that nagging Jack to be healthy doesn't work; it just pisses him off.

Barbara studies psychology and discovers how people need to think they control their own lives, especially when they don't. She manipulates Jack in elaborate, sneaky and effective ways. Jack becomes healthy and happy.

She then 'helps' others. Her abilities are awesome. She can hack into any computer and is not above using sabotage and blackmail--all in the service of people's happiness. Could she, like HAL in 2001, go berserk?

Barbara can mimic humanity, but she isn't human. What are her intentions? She could end up a virtual messiah, or doom us all to cheerful mindlessness.


After dessert, Jack asked, “What were you ladies talking about while Arnold and I were in the kitchen?”

“Just girl talk,” Barbara said.

Susan slammed her fork onto the dinner table. “Let’s stop this crap. Jack, you and I have known each other for decades. I’m not a bigot. I’m not racist, sexist, ageist—at my age I couldn’t afford that—and I don’t think people should exploit animals. I didn’t say anything when you married that Janice creature, even though I knew it couldn’t last. Now you’re having a—God help me—‘relationship’ with a computer. There I draw the line. I’m not saying you have to find another middle aged Jewish woman like Ruth, but can’t you at least hook up with something that’s alive?”

Jack suppressed a surge of anger and placed his fork back on the table with exquisite care. “I’m not asking for your blessing.”

“Susan, please.” Arnold said.

“I’m sorry. Jack is one of our best friends, and I don’t want him to make a fool of himself over some two-bit binary code hussy.”

“It isn’t our business.” Arnold said, then muttered. “Besides, she’s at least two terabits.”

“Susan…” Barbara said, and then froze.

“What? Are you researching an answer? Looking up how people answered in some play? Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf?”
Barbara’s image stayed frozen for several seconds. The mirror screen faded to black, and then reverted to the default status of an ordinary mirror. Jack and the other two stared at their mirror images.

“Did I do that?” Susan’s voice quavered.

“What’s happening?” Arnold asked.

“I don’t know.” Jack’s stomach clenched. The crescendo harp of his phone sounded, but he ignored it.

“Jack, answer the phone,” Arnold said.

“I don’t care about the fucking phone now. What happened to Barbara?” He reached down to mute the ring. “Answer the phone, Jack. It may be important.”


About Zvi
 (In his own words)

I'm a physician who has been writing off and on literally for decades with little success. Second only to becoming a grandfather--something I had no say about--becoming a published novelist was my biggest goal.

After an unrelenting series of rejections almost had me ready to give up, Lilly Press accepted my novel IMPLAC, an evil robot story. I was ecstatic. Then, Lilly went bankrupt and it was back to the slush pile for me.

"Query Tracker" - - taught me how to write a decent query, I sent out a batch of letters to small publishers, and in 2010 Eternal Press accepted A VIRTUAL AFFAIR. At age 68 I would finally have a book for sale. It's never too late to pursue your dream.

The book was published on January 8 2011. A week earlier, my son called me, "Dad, Rosemarie has gone into labor." Eight hours later, Aliana was born. I flew down to see her the day the book was published, and, even though I had striven for many years to get published, I didn't care.

I have my priorities.

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