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Talking Zombiish Behavior with Author Bonnie Rozanski

Today, I'm talking with author and playwright, Bonnie Rozanski. Bonnie was born in Queens, New York and has degrees in Psychology and Artificial Intelligence. She writes on matters touching on consciousness and the human condition.

Bonnie's a tough one to get ahold of for follow up questions--I guess she doesn't check her Facebook messages. She doesn't tweet or blog either. Note to self: Get Bonnie on FB, Twitter and Blogspot ASAP! :-)

I've edited our talk for brevity and clarity.

Why did you start writing?

I wrote when I was a child: poetry and short stories, and continued sporadically until my mid-twenties when I finished my first novel (it shall remain nameless). Then I decided that I needed some life experience before I could produce anything worthwhile.

So, I worked in business for quite a few years, raised my son, getting a few degrees along the way. Finally, when I finished my last degree, a MS in Computer Science (Artificial Intelligence), I decided that what I really wanted to do was not go back into computers but to write. (The first thing I wrote, unsurprisingly, was a play about a robot who comes to life.)

My BS and MS are in computers too. I love robots, btw!

Please tell readers about your book.

COME OUT TONIGHT was inspired by recent bizarre reports of zombiish behavior in people who have taken the sleep drug Ambien. These people get up in the middle of the night to walk, eat and drive cars in their sleep without having any memory the next day of what they have done.

Several months later came even stranger reports of patients who awakened after years in a vegetative state – ten minutes after they had been given Ambien. Taken together, these reports seemed to say that Ambien could somehow unlock the secret to the conscious self! How could I not write about this? (Though I changed the name of the drug, naturally.)

By the way, here’s a link to a NYTimes article on those patients:

Interesting. Would love to hear more...

It’s probably easiest if I give you a short summary –

Henry Jackman, a pharmacist’s assistant working in a run-down drugstore in New York City, wakes up one morning to find his girl friend unconscious on his living room rug. Someone has attacked her. He calls an ambulance, and manages to get her to the hospital alive but comatose. There she progresses from coma to vegetative state, never quite becoming conscious... until the day Henry gives her Somnolux, a new-generation sleep aid.

Henry, an insomniac, has himself been taking Somnolux. He has been experiencing blackouts, something he doesn’t quite admit to, not even to himself. There is evidence he’s been doing some strange things in his sleep: women’s underwear turns up in his drawers; sexy women in his bed. Could Henry have attacked his girlfriend himself without any knowledge of the fact?

Enter Donna Sirken, a no-nonsense, over-worked homicide detective who for seventeen years has clawed her way up the NYPD ranks to her current position as Detective Second Grade. “I’d have sworn until this very moment that criminals are not evil,” Donna tells us. “Sure, they’re violent, lazy, banal, or just plain bad. They want something for nothing, or their father beat them into a lifelong resentment against the world…. They grew up poor, abused, or just plain angry. Something set them on the road to crime, but Evil? C’mon.”

Where can people get your book?

Amazon is the only one that currently has COME OUT TONIGHT on sale, because it is in the Kindle Lending Program. However, by May 1, it should be back on Barnes and Noble.

In your book, who is your favorite character?

As much as I like Henry, the main character, I think I have to say my favorite is Donna Sirken, the homicide detective. She kind of sums herself up in this short monologue early on:

"Well, what you see is what you get with me. I am a bossy white woman who won’t back down. And it took me a lot of years to get to this point. I joined the force as a beat cop when I was 20. I’m 37, so you do the math. I may have started out an innocent young recruit, full of self-righteousness and enthusiasm, making the world safe for humanity. But seventeen long years of scratching my way up the pole, fighting off the old boys’ network, as well as, for that matter, some of the old boys themselves, has sanded down the self-righteousness, jaded most of the enthusiasm, leaving, you guessed it: a bossy white woman who won’t back down. " 

What's your favorite book of all time?

Of all time? Nah, I can’t tell you that.

Too many, I'm guessing... Who are some of your favorite authors?

I’ve always been very eclectic in my literary tastes. I remember when I was growing up, loving Pearl S. Buck, A.J. Cronin, James Hilton, and Sinclair Lewis. More contemporary loves are Phillip Roth, Michael Chabon, Anne Patchett and Mordechai Richler.

And I’ve always loved anything medical or scientific. This probably is going to surprise you, but probably the author who influenced me the most is Michael Crighton. Up till then I had rarely seen science so effectively and cleverly incorporated into literature. It inspired me to do research on the brain, genetics, the Y chromosome, computer networks, and to try to communicate my fascination with the world of ideas – but in a fictional setting.

Do you have any advice for new writers?

Go with your passion. Sure, some writers will cash in on YA paranormal romance or try Dan Brown thriller imitations. They may sell. And, well, if that’s your passion, then do it. But if writing what you love is what you want to do, whether that means coming-of-age thrillers or dystopian science fiction; even if the agents or publishers tell you that you must write within the category or to a specific market. The best of writing comes from within. If you love what you write, the reader will love it, too.

What's next for you in your writing?

I’m currently writing novel about a old physics professor sending her conscious self thirty years back through time to her younger self. I’ve done a lot of research on time travel, but most of it doesn’t look very promising,so I gave up on sending her body back – just her consciousness. It’s fiction, of course, so I can kind of bend the facts.

Anything else you'd like to tell us?

I have two traditionally published books: BANANA KISS and BORDERLINE, both by a small but fine literary press in Ontario, Canada, where I used to live. BORDERLINE was shortlisted for Foreword’s YA Book of the Year Award in 2008 and received a silver medal at the Independent Publishers’ Book Awards in the same year.

And I have four ebooks besides COME OUT TONIGHT, all of which have some kind of scientific conundrum at their core as well as a wicked sense of humor. One of them, SIX CLICKS AWAY, was a drama winner of the Red Adept 2010 Indie Awards.

Thanks for sharing with Go Indie readers.

Readers, find Bonnie's books...


Barnes and Noble

1 comment:

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