My wife is looking over my shoulder. “What’s that you’re working on?” she asks.
“It’s a manuscript I completed a few years ago, THE KOLTSOVO LEGACY.”
“Oh, is that the bloody one?”
I nod. I guess relative to EYEWALL, it is. But it concerns me that her tone is pejorative. Apparently it’s okay with her if people drown or are impaled by flying debris, as happens in Eyewall; but it’s not okay if they are infected by a lethal virus and bleed out, as happens in Koltsovo. Well, there’s some gunplay, too.
I explain to her that the book is a more traditional thriller than is Eyewall. But I know I’m spitting into the wind. She doesn’t read thrillers.
But I do. And it’s what I like to write. Koltosovo is about biowarfare and terrorism. And yes, bio-anything is way outside my sphere of experience and knowledge, so I had to do a great deal of research before I even began writing the novel.
Why venture outside my field of expertise? Because ever since a read a nonfiction book (about 15 years ago) that scared the living daylights out of me, I’ve wanted to write a novel dealing with the topic. The book I read, The Hot Zone by Richard Preston, was about the Ebola virus, perhaps the most lethal known to man.
The Koltsovo Legacy won first prize at the 2010 Southeastern Writers Workshop, but I believe I can make it even better. So, I’m in maximum rewrite mode now, tearing the manuscript apart, reorganizing it, fleshing out the characters and upgrading the dialogue.
I like the novel’s tension, I love its conclusion, and I’m really smitten with several of its characters… whose sails are not quite all the way up. I really want to make the book the best I can.
Well, heck, if nothing else my efforts will keep me off the streets and out of the bars until my editor’s critique of Eyewall comes back. And then I’ll work on making that one even better.
Photo: Scientists at work in Koltsovo, Russia.
During the Cold War, the Koltsovo Institute of Molecular Biology was the center of research for the Soviet’s biowarfare program.
Today, we are told, the institute carries out research for more peaceful purposes.