Lior Samson is the pen name of a university professor and design consultant who divides his time between Europe and the United States. A writer all his adult life, he is an award-winning author with 17 professional non-fiction books and hundreds of published papers to his credit. After turning to fiction, he has had four novels published, all contemporary thrillers, along with a collection of short fiction. He is also a choral singer and sometime composer of choral music who loves to cook for friends and family and who stays in shape by cycling and trying to keep pace with his school-age son and daughter. He lives with his wife and children in Massachusetts and teaches in Portugal.
Tell us a little about your book.
This is an action thriller with medical science underpinnings and literary leanings. I won’t recap the blurb, but I will say that this is quite different from my earlier works. It is a completely stand-alone novel unconnected with the previous ones and considerably darker, in keeping with its subject matter, which is nothing less than life, death, and the eternal quest for eternity. It is a thoughtful thriller, with plenty of action and suspense but also plenty of food for thought.
What inspired you to write this book?
The title and inspiration are integral. Increasingly, technology enthusiasts are talking about an approaching singularity, a fundamental discontinuity that will be a total game changer in human history. There are many versions of the singularity alleged to be looming on the horizon. The machines will become aware and finally be truly smarter than we are. Medical science will enable us to live for centuries—or forever. Designer babies will allow those who can can afford the technology to build a new species. Each variant has its evangelists and true believers. Some, like Aubrey de Grey, truly believe that if they only hold on a few decades longer, medical science will enable them to live forever. Why waste your time and efforts on children when, after the soon-to-be singularity, you, personally, can live forever? So sayeth Aubrey and others. That was the starting point for this novel. What if it were already possible? What if the singularity were behind us rather than still ahead?Rather than a sweeping story, I decided to write more of a close-focus narrative , an account of one person’s journey through his own singularity and of the “small circle of friends” already on the other side of mortality. Another inspiration was the quotation from Steve Jobs that might have served as the epigraph but instead I elected to embed in the narrative. “Death is very likely the single best invention of Life.”
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
My fiction is less about answers than questions. I want to be provocative, leaving readers pondering, thinking back with pleasure but also perplexed. If there is a message it would be: Think about it.
What’s your favorite part of the writing process?
I would have to say that I have two equally favorite parts. First is the upfront research. Many writers are none too keen on doing research, but I am a stickler for factual and technical detail. To me, doing the research to get the background right is a fun challenge, and I always end up learning a lot. In this case, the story is made up, but the medical and bio-tech content are real, even if used with some poetic license. I also like researching settings. Whenever possible, I use familiar locales. Besides Boston’s North Shore suburbs where I live, parts of the novel take place outside Moscow, in London, and in West Africa. I’ve spent a fair amount of time in Russia and England, but the African country of Busanyu is entirely fanciful. Still, I took time studying the geography, history, and politics of some of the real models for my imagined nation. I wanted Busanyu to be a place that was completely plausible, that could have been.
What was the biggest challenge you faced writing this book and how did you overcome it?
When my wife, a writer in her own right who is my biggest fan and harshest critic, convinced me that I had the story all wrong, I had to go back and rework the whole thing. This was not remodeling or interior decorating; this was gutting the structure and rebuilding from the foundation up. The novel ended up with a new opening, a completely changed ending, and a fresh architecture that reordered the story arc. It was daunting to virtually start over after going so far, but I knew I would just have to just buckle down and start to throw out whole sections, write new ones, cut-and-paste, rewrite and revise, then revise and rewrite some more. The results, I believe, were worth it, a much better novel.
Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing?
I am an editor. I have worked professionally in that capacity, and my writing process is more about editing my own work than about writing the draft. That said, I always turn to an outside editor, a real pro, to finish the job and find the problems that I am too close to see. If I were to give one piece of advice to other indie writers it would be to hire, borrow, or steal a professional editor. Poor editing shows. It is a hallmark of amateurism and a major contributor to the bad rep that indie and self-published authors have in the larger book world. The error-strewn and badly structured drek that peppers the indie scene is an embarrassment to us all. Get an editor.
Do you find it difficult to juggle your time between marketing your current book and writing your next book?
I find it hard to juggle my time, period. Unlike some of today’s indie writers who are retired and whose kids are grown or who are young and unfettered, I have a day job and two school-age children. It’s a constant balancing act. Fortunately, my whole family believes in me and is supportive. I also have the fortune of part-time teaching in Europe where my evenings and weekends are my own. Most of my heaviest writing is done when I am alone in my apartment in Portugal.
How are readers/reviewers reacting to your book?
It’s still early days on this latest novel, particularly as the Kindle edition is just out, but the reviews have been enthusiastic and insightful. I particularly like it when a reader/reviewer “gets it” or relishes the very things that I work hardest on. My first five-star review for this book on Amazon said, “The characters lived within my imagination; I felt their pain, their loyalties, their greed, and their inherent ideals. I rejoiced with them during their triumphs and gasped at their misfortunes.” Wow! And that about a techno-thriller. Another reviewer wrote, “The story frames some timeless moral issues: What is personal responsibility? What is marriage? When is it right to give up or take a life? Do you need religious faith to answer?” Responses like these, when you know you have truly reached someone, are what writers live for.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I have to credit my mother, who was a newspaper editor, for instilling in me a deep love of language and of storytelling. I have been writing professionally nearly all of my adult life, although I must say, it did not come easy for me at first, and honing the craft has been a long and still continuing trek. Much of my professional non-fiction, even the works that have won awards, was not really fun to write. I didn’t truly enjoy writing until I started working on my first novel. Maybe it took me that long, over 40 years, to be ready.
What’s next for you? / What is your next project?
I am roughly midway through writing another novel, a very ambitious climax to the “series” that started with my first novel, Bashert. I put quotes around “series” because that was not my initial intention, but I was persuaded by readers to bring back some of same the characters in the next two novels. In my work-in-progress, I return to the non-linear storytelling I took up in that first book, this time with two intertwined and converging storylines, one set during World War II and the other contemporary. It is nominally a thriller that pivots around another modern technology threat while keeping the people in the foreground and raising new questions about freedom and security, patriotism and identity, fate and fortune.
To purchase THE ROSEN SINGULARITY, or any of Lior’s other novels, visit Lior’s Amazon Author page.
Connect with Lior: Website
Dr. Rosen David, a research biologist who does no research, is about to find out what the late Steve Jobs meant when he said that Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. Working in biotech and looking for novel patterns in the work of others, Rosen makes a dramatic new discovery with profound implications for medicine and society. When his work starts disappearing, his settled existence becomes complicated and dangerous. His actions entangle him in the invisible network of an elderly, jet-setting doctor with unusual patients, including a pair of sybaritic California billionaires and the brutal and long-lived African dictator, Edgar Jabari Mbutsu. Rosen ends up anteing into a high stakes game with powerful players who leave him wondering how long he will live. The rules are unclear, the cards he holds are of uncertain value, and he may be called upon to go all in. A gritty, provocative thriller packed with energy, passion, and technical savvy, The Rosen Singularity sets a fast pace and poses tough questions about the challenging choices that medical advances could soon force upon us all.