Official Interview: AJ Pagan IV

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Official Interview: AJ Pagan IV

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Today's Chat with Sarah features AJ Pagan IV, author of Brian, Created Intelligence.

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1. What does your schedule look like when you're writing?

When I finally feel ready enough to take on a new project, I wake up early, around 4AM, and write for about 2 hours. My head is clear, I haven't been adulterated with any thoughts, and my blank slate can write true.

2. How long, on average, does it take you to write a book?

My first novel, Brian, Created Intelligence, which was Book of the Day April 23, 2023, took me a little over six years to complete. It is my first novel, and I began writing during my thesis in graduate school. I am glad I finished and kept going a few years ago! After that, novels sped up. My current quickest novel (at 115k) took me 47 days from start to finish draft one. Generally, it takes me about 3 months.

3. Let's talk about your book Brian, Created Intelligence. Can you give us a brief description for those that haven't read it?

Long story short, it's the world's first (and hopefully forever) brain-in-a-box. A biotechnology company in the near future (2047) decides to create a bodiless human brain so it can use that human intelligence to piggyback and copy its neural pathways into artificial intelligence. Then all hell breaks loose.

4. Where did the idea for the story come from?

I was writing my thesis in grad school, in organic chemistry, and was searching for jobs in 3D organ printing. Hearts, lungs, and kidneys are in the research phases. My ethical side struck me, what if the worst were to happen?

5. The reviewer mentions that all the biology in the book is written in a common way. How did you manage to make it realistic without going over the reader's head?

I wanted to create an accessible story that was just as plausible with real science and future tech as possible. If a story is too dense, what normal reader shall read it? I also prefer Albert Einstein's quote, "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." Through my research on the human brain for this project, I was teaching myself, and hopefully the reader.

6. Which character is your favorite? Do you have a least favorite character?

To fall into the cliche, Brian is my favorite. He's pure, true, and perfectly innocent. He also likes The Beatles, which I actually have permission to use a song of theirs in my novel, during one of Brian's experiences. My least favorite character is Rothstein, the epitome of pure evil.

7. How did the book change from the first draft?

Cut in half! I wrote over 170k words in my first draft, with many more storylines and fun stuff that my editor persuaded me to remove, for a more focused story. For clarity, Brian is now 99k words.

8. What's next for you?

My next project is probably my favorite. A young man gets a neural implant from a large corporation, and nothing goes to plan: DreamState. I have four other drafted novels, all of which deal with high-tech brains, morality, and power plays, which need to be edited a few times and editorially reviewed before their pub in the future.

I like to end on fun questions.

9. If you could spend a day with another popular author, whom would you choose?

Dan Simmons. I want to rack his brain on how he developed the best novel in existence, Hyperion (and The Fall of Hyperion). He was also a teacher and his students excelled in writing. It couldn't hurt.

10. Which actor would play you in a movie of your life?

I have no idea. Jon Hamm is too tall and good-looking. Ok, maybe Jon Hamm, makes me look better, even if he's a bit older than me. I also met him once, we have a thing.

11. What's your favorite zoo animal?

I will be a downer here. I don't like zoos. But my favorite wild animal is the leopard. I've seen one in real life and he was an awing, powerful specimen.

12. Are you a clean or messy person?

I'm a bit messy, ask my wife! I even write in a haphazard way and usually have to use 'Date Started' to see which chapter goes where... As I write each chapter in a new document. It works for me, somehow.
A book is a dream you hold in your hands.
—Neil Gaiman
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