Article Category: The Book

​On the origin of The Moses Virus

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.

On Writing and The Moses Virus

Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?

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 which 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.