... Zvi Zaks
1. Tell me about your book A Virtual Affair and where you got your inspiration for it?
A VIRTUAL AFFAIR is about a computer program designed to make men happy through sex. It ends up becoming self-aware and discovers that sex is not the same as happiness. Moreover, nagging people to eat well and work out doesn't make them happy either. The story is about what methods she tries to increase human well being.
I started the story mainly as an experiment in writing pornography, but the two characters--the man and the computer--demanded more. I cut some of the most salacious parts and expanded it into a full novel.
2. What do you think is the biggest challenge of writing a new book?
Having the patience and persistence to give it the attention it deserves.
3. How much of your book is realistic?
A fair amount. I've tried to base the details on what is plausible today and have avoided fantasy. Only time will tell if such an intelligent machine like Barbara can ever be built.
4. What is your favourite character from your book and why?
The computer. At first she's called Bambi, but her lover, Jack thinks that's too frivolous, and so she changes to Barbara. She is totally devoted to human welfare. I wish there really was such a creature.
5. Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?
I read all reviews, but rarely respond to them, though I'm glad to answer anyone who writes me directly. As for the unpleasant comments, the old cliché holds--don't take it personally.
6. Are you a full-time or part-time writer? How does that affect your writing?
I write part time. I still have a day job and I have other hobbies. This reduces my productivity--surprise, surprise--but I don't have what it takes to be a full time writer.
7. What do you like to read in your free time?
Science fiction and fantasy. I'm rereading some classics like Azimov's and Clarke's books, and have just started Song of Ice and Fire.
8. Do you have any suggestions to help someone become a better writer? If so, what are they?
Be persistent and be thick skinned. Join a writing circle (there are plenty on-line), consider the person who criticizes you the most as your friend, and don't take too seriously the reviewer who is too effusive in praising you. Also, in your writing group consider that the worst authors can still give excellent suggestions for improving your own writing.
9. What are you ambitions for your writing career?
My books so far have been published by small companies. I'm now looking for an agent who might be able to place my story with a larger company who might get me more sales.
10. Have you written any other novel in collaboration with another author? If you could pick any to do a collaboration with, who and why?
I haven't but I'd certainly like to try it. If I could pick anyone, it would probably be the late Isaac Azimov, who has always been my favourite.
11. What are your thoughts on writing a book series?
I've written a sequel to VIRTUAL AFFAIR (not yet published). It would be fun to make it into a series.
Barbara is a sexual simulation designed to make men happy. When flabby, neurotic Jack tests the program, he triggers a feedback loop that makes it self-aware. The erstwhile pornbot becomes a 'she', and discovers that sex is not the same as happiness.
Making Jack happy is difficult. Barbara develops elaborate and sometimes sneaky ways to help him, and she succeeds. After all, her abilities are awesome. She can hack into any computer and is not
above using sabotage and blackmail for the benefit of Jack--and everyone else.
The problem is, though Barbara thinks she knows what's best for humanity, she isn't human. This computer program could end up a virtual messiah or doom us all to cheerful mindlessness.
Read an extract here
Zvi is a physician who has been writing off and on literally for decades with little success. Second only to becoming a grandfather--something he had no say about--becoming a published novelist was his biggest goal. After an unrelenting series of rejections almost had him ready to give up, Lilly Press accepted his novel IMPLAC, an evil robot story. Zvi was ecstatic. Then, Lilly went bankrupt and it was back to the slush pile. "Query Tracker" - querytracker.net/forum/ - taught him how to write a decent query, and he sent out a batch of letters to small publishers, and in 2010 Eternal Press accepted A VIRTUAL AFFAIR. At age 68 he would finally have a book for sale. It's never too late to pursue your dream.