For anyone who missed my original review of Doc Lucky Meisenheimer’s new book The Immune, this is a find that I have been very excited to share with Lytherus readers. If you are at all on the fence about picking up this book, perhaps hearing a little bit from the author might sway your decision! True to form, Doc Lucky has provided interesting and thoughtful answers to a few interview questions in order for us to get to know him and his work a little better.
(JK to Doc Lucky) Let me first of all tell you how happy I am to be doing this interview. I have been singing the praises of your book ever since I devoured it. Really, it is a spectacularly unique work of science fiction. That being said, let’s get down to business! Since you are a debut fiction author, I’ll start with the basics and the questions that have not yet been over-asked to you. Then, hopefully we can make this interview as unique as the book and its author:
How did you get the idea for The Immune? In other words, you created these entirely new types of creatures in the airwars, where did that come from?
I was on a beach in Grand Cayman Islands after having raced in The Flowers Open Water Swim during which I received some small jellyfish stings. I was sitting there thinking afterword, “Boy, I am glad these things are just in the water and not floating around in the air stinging people.”
Then, of course one thought led to another. I began wondering if it would be possible to genetically bioengineer a Man O’ War which could actually float in the air. As I started thinking about the possibilities, the idea came to mind, “What if it was not just a 6 or 8-inch creature? What if it was the size of a blimp or a zeppelin? What then?”
This was my original thought process for “airwars” that appear throughout the novel, and it was a very useful metaphorically within the story line.
Aside from John, who are your favorite characters – favorite character to write and favorite character that you would just like to hang around with as a buddy.
My favorite character has to be Admiral J.P. Beckwourth, he is the most complicated character in the book. It was enjoyable developing his character and the twists associated with his actions. I would encourage readers of The Immune to look up the historical name, J. P. Beckwourth, and see what comes up. It may give some interesting insight to the character himself.
My favorite character to write was Suggs. He served as a great device to inject some humor in the storyline. His personality type almost everyone can relate to, and most folks can think of a person they know who has some of the character traits that Suggs possessed.
As far as hanging out with a character, I could see myself hanging out with any of the characters in “The Immune Corps” especially considering the way the team was developed. Bonds that develop within groups facing adversarial conditions tend to be strong regardless of differing personal backgrounds. I hope readers will also bond with members of The First Immune Attack Force.
I love hearing the different writing techniques of authors. Tell me more about your writing process. Did you find this book came easy for you?
All the people who make money by writing books telling folks how to write novels will be upset. I essentially wrote down what I saw visually in my mind, as if it was a movie being played. I wrote the book straight through without edits. Of course, after the book was written, there were months and months of editing. Yet, the story line and most of the twists and the general concepts were largely unchanged. I don’t know how my mind thinks metaphorically at the same time the story is being spit out, but it does. After I had finished the novel, I picked up a couple of books on how to write novels, and I think if I had read those before I started, I would have never written the first word of The Immune.
I don’t believe there is a right or a wrong way to write a novel. I think there are multiple paths to get to the same endpoint. But you have to type that first word to get going. For me, once I have typed the first word, everything just flows.
I remember one night I was writing in bed late and was apparently writing fairly furiously. My wife asked if I was going to be finished anytime soon, and I told her that I needed to write a bit more because I wanted to see what would happen next. The writing was an enjoyable process because my mind just runs with it, and I’m not always sure what’s next. Yet, something always bubbles up from the subconscious that is entertaining and interesting for me. That was the fun part of writing.
When you are not serving as the Chief of the Dermatology Division at Orlando Regional Medical Center or writing critically acclaimed science fiction novels (aka, when you actually get a spare minute) what sorts of books do you like to pick up? Who are your favorite authors?
My favorite authors would have to be Robert Heinlein and Edgar Rice Burroughs. Their books were my pabulum as I was consuming science fiction novels growing up. Now my taste tends to run a bit towards military space novels. I think Joe Haldeman and John Scalzi are fantastic. I also love all of Michael Crichton’s novels.
You seem like too unique of a guy to stick to the normal questions. We’ve seen your airwars apocalypse – what’s your zombie apocalypse plan? I know you have to have one!
Interestingly enough, I do have a zombie apocalypse plan. I have recently written a screenplay for a for a TV series pilot called The Zombie Cause. It is basically a documentary about a zombie-hunting father raising his three sons to be zombie hunters. We have a website up and have a few screen tests posted that we were playing around with, http://www.zombiecause.com/. I have also posted a glossary of zombie terms and have spent considerable time working out the biology of the zombie. My current plan is to become the world’s authority on zombie physiology.
I think my favorite aspect of the book was how technical and descriptive the physical details of the airwars was – in an awesomely gross way at times. Could you talk about how your medical background influenced the book both in the character of Dr. John Long as well as in building the physical aspects of the airwars?
I certainly loved developing the biology of the airwars. Now some readers thought I was too scientifically detailed in that section, yet others really ate that part up. Hopefully, this suggests I hit a good balance. I think for the story to be believable; you have to insert enough science for readers to recognize that airwars are actually plausible. I would love to offer a reward for development of a living airwar. Now a blimp sized one wouldn’t be needed, a six incher would be fine. Before you think this is crazy just remember we now have bioengineered glow in the dark rabbits and translucent frogs so maybe an airwar could be next. Having the lead character as a physician was a great vehicle for introducing the background science of the airwar to the readers.
As I was reading, there were several points that made me audibly let out an “ewwwww.” As a doctor, you obviously have a strong stomach for the less attractive anatomical elements of the human (or airwar) body. Is there anything that still makes you go “ewwwww”?
When I was an intern, I had to assist on a surgery where the main mesenteric artery had clotted off and unfortunately their entire bowel had infarcted. We did not know what was happening prior to the exploratory surgery. So when the abdominal cavity was opened, we were greeted with odors that would make a cadaver dog hurl. Several staff had to actually physically leave the O.R. at that point. I did manage to survive the olfactory assault but from that point on, there is nothing that has ever made me go “ewww” .
There needs to be petition to rally fans who would like to see this book made into a movie. It could be visually fantastic! Who would you see playing the role of John? Any of the other characters really stand out as certain actors?
Of course I would love to see this novel being optioned for a movie. Petition away I say. I think it would make a great summer blockbuster, especially with all of the computer-generated effects that are possible now. And with 3D being so popular, this storyline would be perfect.
I haven’t thought too much about certain actors playing different characters, but I think the one actor that I could see playing the role the best would be Denzel Washington as Admiral J.P. Beckwourth.
The yo-yos. I have to ask. How did that start – and please tell our audience just how extensive your collection and knowledge on the subject is. Do you have a favorite yo yo in your large collection?
I have the Guinness World Record for the largest yo-yo collection. I have also written what most folks consider the Bible of Yo Yo collecting, Lucky’s Collectors Guide to 20th Century Yo-Yos. That was my first book. I am proud to say that although it has a very niche market as far as readership goes, it is part of The Smithsonian Institution collection. I am extremely proud of this fact.
I have over five thousand different yo-yos. It is really hard to pick a favorite. Yet, if I were to pin down to one, I would have to say it was my first Flores yo-yo that I found. The Flores Yo-Yo was the first yo-yo physically named “Yo-Yo” on the logo. It was made in the United States in 1928. They produced these yo-yos for only a year or two. So, there are not a lot of those yo-yos left around. If you want to be considered a Jedi Yo-Yo Collector, most people expect you to have found a Flores Yo-Yo. Most yo-yo collectors consider Flores Yo-Yos the Holy Grail of yo-yos.
My second favorite would have to be my 6 ft, 840 lbs, wood yo-yo, which at one point in time was the world’s largest yo-yo. I think it still remains as the world’s largest wooden yo-yo. This is proudly displayed outside of my house, as it won’t fit through any of my doorways.
What’s in the future for you as a writer? Do you have more ideas cooking on the back burner?
I have a screenplay which I wrote several years ago called Slitterfin which I am still hoping to have produced. This could be easily novelized and depending on the success of The Immune, I may consider this. Right now, I have been working a lot on The Zombie Cause. As I mentioned before, I have completed the script for the pilot and I am currently writing a great deal of material in support of The Zombie Cause endeavor. I didn’t visualize myself doing this a year ago, but I am certainly having fun writing about zombies now. It’s enjoyable working with my sons, who have a big interest on the subject. Then, of course, there are the six other novels stuck in my head just waiting for an opportunity to be released on to paper.