by Marcus Sakey
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The Future is Now with a Twist
By Arnie Bernstein
America is under siege by its own citizens, a group of extraordinary gifted thinkers known as “brilliants.” The brilliants, who are one percent of the population and growing since 1980, have unique savant qualities that “normal” people cannot fathom. Some can read body language like hypertext. Another brilliant used his mathematical and logic skills to manipulate the stock market, setting off a $300 billion crash on Wall Street. The brilliants are changing the world, and not for the better. A secretive government organization is hunting these unique individuals using another brilliant, Agent Nick Cooper, to chase down his own before they can wreak untold havoc throughout the world.
Marcus Sakey creates this extraordinary world in his new novel Brilliance (Thomas & Mercer); a fast paced 434-page tale, and the first novel in his projected three-book saga. Sakey couldn’t have asked for better pre-release publicity: movie rights to Brilliance were picked up in a seven figure deal by Legendary Pictures, the company behind director Christopher Nolan’s Dark Night trilogy and Inception, as well as many other blockbusters. A previous Sakey novel, Good People, is now being filmed in London with James Franco and Kate Hudson starring.
"I want to write thoughtful thrillers that are moral and don’t have easy answers."
AUTHORLINK: How did you create the alternate reality of Brilliance?
SAKEY: I want to write thoughtful thrillers that are moral and don’t have easy answers. Gun fights and car chases are fun, but at the heart of the story is living in society and the chance to turn that into a literary microscope looking at the way we have to deal with different things. I wanted Brilliance to be a recognizable world. I think of it more as an alternative present rather than science fiction. It’s basically a novel of ideas and speculative fiction with tweaks based on today’s reality based around strong concepts in the book. The timing of the book’s release with the NSA scandal is hilarious because it’s right in line with a lot of themes in the book. Shadowy agencies willing to do what is necessary for their aims. People willing to give up freedoms and privileges without thinking.
AUTHORLINK: Your characters are similar to what we know as autistic savants; for example someone who can’t function at all with other people but can memorize a telephone directory with ease.
SAKEY: My initial premise came from studies of autism. My wife works with autistic kids and she’s fascinated by how the brain works. It was interesting to hear her talk about it. These kids have challenges socially but they also have advantages because of their unique abilities.
"I did a lot of research on savants and autism. " |
I did a lot of research on savants and autism. Once I did that, I abandoned it. I wanted my brilliants to be the way I envisioned them. What if you turned up the advantages and took away the disadvantages, magnifying what people can do normally? Playing with them on the page was fun for me. It was different than any of my crime novels. It was fun. I felt unfettered. It’s an apocalyptic novel that is unfolding. The world is falling apart, not fallen apart. Actions in the first book will have enormous consequences in the third book.
AUTHORLINK: You’ve published six novels since 2007, plus several Kindle e-books of short stories. How do you stay so prolific?
SAKEY: To me it doesn’t seem prolific. It’s a job. You get your ass in the chair and fingers on the keyboard. You can’t wait for the muse. I spend weeks planning and plotting, and try to write one thousand words a day in chunks over a few months. And I write it in the way I want to write. That’s one of those pieces of advice that seems simple. Just write books you want to read. Good entertainment makes you hit that sweet spot and when you’re done the book had something to say and some idea to explore. If I stray too far from that sweet spot, I lose interest.
AUTHORLINK: You just came back from London where they’re filming Good People. What’s it like to see your novel turned into a movie?
SAKEY: It’s strange seeing your characters come to life, truly surreal. As a novelist, you essentially occupy this godlike position in the creation. It’s all you. The choices are yours. One person, one show. But film by definition is collaborative. The story takes on a life of its own; it’s enormously different. It’s not mine anymore, but that’s okay. You have to accept that. And you still get the money.
AUTHORLINK: You’re also host the television program Hidden City on The Travel Channel. The show has an offbeat concept: looking at big cities through their crimes and criminals. Has the show helped you in your writing?
SAKEY: My favorite part of that show is doing things that help me understand how people in various criminal situations felt. I’ve gone out with a SWAT team, been pepper sprayed, attacked by dogs, but I also got to talking with people about their lives. I did a pub-crawl with a guy who made millions robbing armored cars. It got the rush from him, as well as the clarity about what you do before you move in to pull off that kind of heist. It helps me as a writer to get into other peoples heads like that. But I don’t replicate real crimes in my books. I like to make shit up.
|About the Author|
To find out more about Marcus Sakey and his many projects, check out his website: www.marcussakey.com.
About Regular Contributor|
|Arnie Bernstein is a nonfiction writer and writing teacher. His new book Swastika Nation: Fritz Kuhn and the Rise and Fall of the German-American Bund was recently published by St. Martin’s Press. His true crime tale Bath Massacre: America’s First School Bombing was honored as a Notable Book for 2010 by the State Library of Michigan. You can find out more about Arnie at his website: www.arniebernstein.com.|
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