Embryo manipulation, assisted reproduction, stem cell research and…murder.
In A Family Way is James Calder’s third standalone book in the Bill Damen series, mysteries set against the unique backdrop of genetic engineering. In this latest novel, female partner Clementine Pirez joins filmmaker Bill Damen adding romantic tension to the already suspenseful story line.
What led James Calder to use embryo manipulation in a mystery?
“This, to me, is one of the most fascinating aspects of the new science. We’re literally taking the power of creation into our own hands. With the atomic bomb, we gained the power of destruction and apocalypse (the last book in the Christian Bible). The power of creation (the first book of the Bible) is potentially much more far-reaching. The ability to manipulate embryos raises a question that any future parent will find challenging: how far are you willing to go to give your child good health and special talents? And what is the price of entering into that bargain? Parents have always wanted to influence their children, and the new technology gives them unprecedented power to do so. I read several versions of Faust for this book, including of course Goethe’s, and used the Faust story as a kind of armature for my story.”
As genetic engineering is a key theme in Calder’s novels, research is key.
What does his research involve?
“I started out by reading the books on the subject (including books by Lee Silver, Gina Kolata, Gregory Stock, and Francis Fukuyama) to get a grounding in the field. Then I read articles on the web, some of them fairly technical, about recent developments. Finally, when I felt that I had enough knowledge about the field that I could talk about it in a reasonably intelligent way, I contacted scientists who are doing the type of research I’m interested in and picked their brains for knowledge and ideas about the aspects of the science that were to appear in the story. One embryologist at the University of California-San Francisco was especially helpful. Together we figured out the embryo-engineering scenario that ultimately appeared in the book.”
Will Bill get his man (or woman)? Will Bill make a move on his new partner Clem? More importantly, will Clem get her own series?
James Calder confided “I could definitely see Clem having a series of her own.”
James Calder is the author of the Bill Damen series, mysteries set against the backdrop of genetic engineering.
His books are available at http://www.amazon.com
He can be contacted at http://www.jamescalder.net