WELCOME JACK HYLAND
His career has been in investment banking with Morgan Stanley & Co for 18 years (partner after eight years) followed by Warburg Paribas Becker (vice chairman), and PaineWebber (vice chairman) for eight years and the balance spent in a boutique investment banking firm (McFarland Dewey & Co.) until the last four years with Media Advisory Partners (founding partner) (www.mediaadvisorypartners.com <http://www.mediaadvisorypartners.com> )Besides The Moses Virus, he wrote a biography Evangelism’s First Modern Media Star, The Life of Reverend Bill Stidger (www.stidger.com <http://www.stidger.com> ) as well as articles syndicated by Hearst and The New York Times on his travels in India, Libya and Bhutan. He also has written articles in “Fine Gardening” magazine on his garden at his weekend house in Millerton, NY.Not-for-profit activities have included being Chairman, and Chairman Emeritus of the American Academy in Rome; Co-Chairman of Teachers College, Columbia University; Director of the College Art Association; and Trustee of the Clark Art institute.He has three children, Liza, married, with three children living in Rye, New York; Jonathan, PhD in Psychology, living and teaching in Salt Lake City; and Susannah, married, running a counseling clinic in Brooklyn. Jack’s partner is Larry Wente, who has an architectural firm in New York City.
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Q&A with Jack Hyland
I’ve personally known all the characters in The Moses Virus, with their good points and their weaknesses and ambiguities. For a while I wrote myself in as the hero, and even called him by my name. Quickly, however, he rebelled, and I gave him a new name, Tom Stewart, since he didn’t really want to be me. He was considerably happier and eventually so was I.
The ghastly virus in the book comes right off the front pages of the major newspapers (The New York Times: Debate Persists on Deadly Flu Made Airborne, cover page, December 27, 2011) with the running controversy about the motives of the scientists in resurrecting the world’s most devastating killer—somewhere between 50 and 100 million people killed by the Spanish flu of 1918-19. Is there any government that wouldn’t want to have its own supply? Also, we—the world of seven billion people—are headed for potential disaster in that the food supply is drastically falling behind the growth in population. Why? Many reasons: corruption, inefficiency, among others. The solution? Some would propose bio-engineered seeds boosting the output of crops, and others would curb population growth. Still others would cure corruption. Which would you pick and at what risk? Certain major companies see the profit opportunities.
Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the story line brings you?
Some years ago, I was invited to meet at six in the morning on a hot summer day in Rome to watch while an archaeological team from the American Academy in Rome re-opened an excavation in the Roman Forum on the Palatine Hill. The first chapter came to me in this way, watching the team at work moving rocks, sifting the findings, while at the same moment imagining a catastrophic release of a deadly virus killing two of the archaeologists. In this “imagining” I polished off the head of the American Academy team whom I had known for years. I told him about his fate later, which he laughed about good-naturedly. With this, the story was off and running. I had no idea exactly where the story was going but I knew the characters would help me find the way. And they did.
Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?
About three in the morning, I wake up with a fabulous idea connected to my book. I toss and turn, and the idea keeps returning, changing sometimes, but persistently wanting some attention. I get up. I jot down the main points and go back to sleep. Later, when I get up, I take the notes from my dreaming state and work them into the story. Some of the ideas are too wild to use; others, however, join the story and enrich it. I never know in advance.
Is writing your full time job? If not, may I ask what you do by day?
Investment banking is my main job, mergers and acquisitions in media and education. Both areas are in major transition and face major needs to change if they are to remain viable. Challenging. I’ve also been Chairman of the American Academy in Rome, which gives the Rome Prize to Americans in many arts and scholarly fields, and it is where some of the action in The Moses Virus takes place; I’m Co-Chair of Teachers College, Columbia University, the oldest and largest of the nation’s schools of education (perhaps the setting of the next book—which depends on Tom Stewart and some other events); and a couple of other not for profit organizations. Travelling is a passion: Egypt, for example, fascinates me. Luxor and the supreme achievements of ancient Egypt, or Rome, or Paris, of Istanbul, and so on. I’ve been to 57 countries—as many as Heinz has varieties.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
I worked on an oil tanker for Sunoco one summer in college and after the modest work assignment was done each day, legitimately hid from more work duties. On the deck near the bow, another college student and I read all the rest of the day. I loved many of the classics: Dickens, Fielding, Jane Austen, and the Brontes. I moved to more current authors, Michael Crichten, discovered science fiction via Isaac Azimov, Philip Dick, Heinlein and on to the surrealist writing of Heller (Yossarrian—“He had decided to live forever, or die in the attempt”) and Vonnegut.
What are you reading now?
I enjoy the story telling and page turning skills of Stephen King, Tom Clancy and John Grisham. And I need to add that I’m a movie fiend, ranging from James Bond (both Sean Connery and Daniel Craig), action and adventure (Jason Bourne), certain comedies, science fiction (“Gravity”—wow, what an experience), twisted mysteries (Alfred Hitchcock). And certain television—Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, as well as a few series, such as The Newsroom, the amazingly cynical House of Cards with Kevin Spacey.
Are you working on your next novel? Can you tell us a little about it?
May I quote from the last page of The Moses Virus? Alex is talking to Tom.
“Mr. Forensic Archaeologist, tell me exactly what was in Crystal’s small leather case when she drove away from Kronberg Castle.”
Tom said, “I have no bloody idea. And, perhaps it’s better that neither of us know. Furthermore, it will be some time before I join in an excavation in the Roman Forum again.”
“Fine by me,” Alex said.
And that is the way things stood for quite a while. But in exactly one year and three months, Tom would have the exact answer to Alex’s question.”
That’s all I can say, except that we are not done with Crystal, Alex and Tom.
h. Fun questions:-Your novel will be a movie. Who would you cast?
Clive Owen as Tom Stewart. Owen (Children of Man, The International) if he can handle an America accent is the closest I can get to Cary Grant both of whom have the good lucks, intelligence and sense of humor to be the main character; and Eva Green, (Bond’s love in Casino Royale), who is strikingly good looking, and totally self possessed would be a perfect Alex Cellini.
Manuscript/Notes: hand written or keyboard?
Scraps of paper from waking up and transcribing three AM ideas, but otherwise everything is written on the computer. There are drawbacks—I find it harder to locate certain passages whereas it would be easier if all were on pages of paper, or occasionally I mistakenly type for too long before saving, and you all know what happens then.
I have an apartment in New York City, and a house in the Berkshires overlooking a lake and a hump-backed mountain. Why travel? I wonder, since where I live is better than any place else I’ve ever found. But I love to travel—sadly much of the Middle East which is the heart of our western civilization is in turmoil, so trips there are difficult at the present time. But the Far East, Europe, South America—there is so much to see and people to meet. I’m not enthusiastic about the Arctic or Antarctic, but maybe I’m not being fair.
Begin with a sublime salad of tomato and mozzarella, like I had this summer in Verona at a restaurant called the Twelve Apostles, followed by a main pasta course at a restaurant called Rosa Rossa in Venice, which is cited by Johnny Depp as his favorite restaurant in the world, a cool, crisp Italian pinot grigio, and then some gelato and coffee. Can’t beat this.
Thank you for stopping by CMash Reads and spending time with us.
ABOUT THE BOOK
The Vatican, foreign groups, the world’s largest genetically-modified seed manufacturer—all have their reasons, and none will stop until they succeed, no matter what the cost or risk to millions of people if the virus escapes and causes a pandemic.
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Taylor Trade
Publication Date: January 7, 2014
THANKS TO MARIA AT MARIAN BROWN PR,
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