We’ve managed to snag a rare interview with the elusive Jonathan Brookes, author of the novella Relic. Jonathan has been “on the run” for the past year year, having been involved in exposing a covert military operation to breed super soldiers. Relic essentially documents how the project was ultimately exposed.
Let’s get to the questions:
Q: Can you please tell us briefly a little about yourself and your writing? How would you like us to introduce you?
A: I’m not sure what there is to tell. I’ve been involved in many high-tech and bio-engineering projects over the last thirty years. I can’t discuss some of them because of non-disclosure agreements with companies. Given the, ah, situation that I’m already in, I don’t need to tempt fate any further.
I never intended to write a book. The information essentially fell into my lap; I had to do something to expose the project for what it was. However, I didn’t want to end up in the government’s cross-hairs, like Edward Snowden. Having it published as a novella, rather than simply leaking the documents seemed to be a better path. It gets the truth out there.
Q: Where can people find your work? (Besides ABSW ;)–though they should totally check here first!)
A: Well, Mike (Polia), the guy who actually turned all the documentation into the novella, has managed to get the book placed into a few local bookstores:
Annie’s Book Stop, 18 Main St, Hudson, MA
Willow Books and Café, 279 Great Rd, Acton, MA
Hudson Art & Framing, 18 Main St, Hudson, MA (at the rotary)
It’s also available at the ARRL bookstore and, of course, Amazon.
I’ve heard that he’s also been selling copies at amateur radio flea markets.
Q: How can we follow your work, share your awesomeness, or otherwise stalk you in a totally non-creepy way?
A: Well, Mike set-up a twitter account for me: @JBrookesAuthor. However, given the circumstances, I’ve had very little opportunity to actually post any tweets. I think I have about 8 or 9 followers, mostly writers and some scientists who are interested in the science and technology that’s been exposed.
Q: For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write? What can readers expect from Relic?
A: Well, this is a tough question because I didn’t actually write the story. Mike (Polia) did the writing based on all the documentation and data that I had uncovered about the project. I did read what was finally published; Mike managed to send me a copy of the book. I have to say that he did a decent job turning all the documents and handwritten notes that I had into an entertaining story without losing the core facts of what was going on with this secret project. The book is fairly fast-paced, moving along to tell the story without meandering down those subplots that a much larger novel might do. He kept to the meat of the story. I liked it; my stuff didn’t get lost in translation, so to speak.
Q: What kind of research went into writing this book? What is your favorite research story? What cool facts and findings didn’t make it into the book, but you loved discovering?
A: Most of the effort was actually in, ah, “liberating” the project documentation from their hiding places. A lot of it was actually on paper; not electronic copies, so that made it more difficult to sort through. The whole process was a discovery experience. At first, I didn’t realize what I had stumbled upon. I began to follow the trail of documentation, lab reports, hand-written notes, over the course of many months. I didn’t realize what was really going on until after I collected and reviewed most of the reports. It was mind-boggling. Mike managed to get most of the info incorporated into the book, but there were some missing pieces of information. For example, Julie, the woman in the epilogue, has gone missing. I think Mike is trying to track her down to find out what happened to her and the baby. Also, the two operatives who deceived Julie, Captain Robert Gordon and Lieutenant Mary Sullivan, have also gone off the grid. Those people probably know more information about the project that has not yet come out.
Q; What character did you love or hate the most while writing? And why?
A: I’ll have to say the Blake Farnsworth was the most intriguing character in the story. He closely resembles one of the real persons involved in the whole effort to uncover the truth about the human cloning that was going on. Colonel Birchwood was probably my other favorite. He’s a tormented man, existing, yet not really living life. Oh, and then there’s General Holbrooke. It’s amazing that there are still folks like him walking around in these modern times.
Q; How important has the New England setting been to your writing?
A: The New England setting has been very important, not as a setting for the story, but as a real refuge for me. Once it was discovered that I had uncovered these secrets, I had to go into hiding, but in a place where I could survive on my own and still do the research that I needed to do. Northern New England actually has some distinct advantages for someone trying to keep a low profile. There’s a nice balance of wilderness and small towns. Folks tend to be helpful and neighborly without prying. There’s game for hunting, good fishing, the winters are tolerable, and the Canadian border is very close. I won’t say which cities I visited, but it was very helpful when I had to connect with civilization in order to use the Internet.
Q: What else can we expect from you in the near future?
A: I’m hoping to get my life back, really. It’s not that the government is “officially” after me, but I’m always looking over my shoulder. The real danger is actually from the operatives who work for F&G (Farnsworth & Grayson; the private military contractor). They’re really, really pissed about the whole thing. They lost a lot of money, Some of them went to jail. Others just disappeared. They put a price on my head.
Q: What has been your favorite adventure during your writing career?
A: This whole experience has been an adventure. I’d like my life back, please.
Q: Writers very often have furry or feathered or otherwise non-human companions to “help” them through their work. Do you? What do you have? How do they “help” (or, “not-help”) with your writing?
A: Well, hiding out in a cabin in the backwoods of northern Maine — lots of wildlife. Mostly not helpful. Critters are always finding their way into my cabin, making a mess, stealing food. Of course, a few times they became food; I’ve acquired a taste for squirrel over the past few months.
Q: Do you have any favorite foods or drinks that must be in the vicinity (or must be avoided) while you’re writing or editing a piece of work?
A: Single malt scotch. Preferably a Bruichladdich or a Highlan Park.
A: That’s more a question for Mike (Polia). He has a really good imagination and can spin a story around a set of facts. It’s a nice skill. He can hide the truth in plain sight behind an entertaining story. Most people would dismiss it as fiction, but there is truth buried in there.
Thank you so much for sharing your time and this important information with us Mr. Brookes! We here at Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester wish you the best of luck in getting your life back after this whole experience.