By Antoinette Kuritz
Once again it’s summer in San Diego, and for the 42nd year in a row, from July 12 – 15, what has morphed into Comic-Con will bring people from all over the world to San Diego to celebrate not just comic books, TV shows and movies but a larger range of pop culture elements, such as horror, animation, anime, manga, toys, collectible card games, video games, webcomics, and fantasy novels.
So what is a writer of international thrillers doing at a show like this, at a convention that will showcase all manner of costumed attendees intent on honoring the characters they love? Well, when the writer writes novels with cutting-edge scientific premises – his most recent, “Blood Line,” about immortality – and those novels are steeped in real possibilities, those novels and that writer are Comic-Con worthy.
NY Times bestselling author Jim Rollins, the author of Blood Line, took the time to answer some questions about San Diego’s signature convention and his work.
With all the touring you do as an author, what draws you to Comic-Con?
I’ve been going to Comic-Con for the past 16 years, back when there was only one publishing house with a booth (Del Rey Books). First and foremost, I go because there is literally nothing like a Comic-Con experience, and now with multiple publishing houses manning booths, it’s a media juggernaut and a great vehicle for getting your books in front of masses of new readers.
When we think of Comic-Con, we think of attendees in strange costumes. But what is Comic-Con really about?
The costumes get a lot of publicity, but the core of Comic-Con is pure exuberance and excitement. Stepping onto that massive floor for the first time each year, you can feel the lightning in the air: the noise, the crowds, the crazy booths.
Here is a tribe of people with thousands of different interests who share a riotous common bond in the joy of storytelling in all its art forms: comics, books, movies, and television.
Do you feel that large events like Comic-Con help you stay in touch with your fans? Or is the camaraderie lost in the crowd?
Not at all. Though the event is massive, the moments are intimate. In that chaotic zoo, that personal one-on-one connection still exists. Whether it’s answering a question in a panel or shaking a hand across a signing table, those close interactions still persist. It’s the true heart of Comic-Con.
When did you first come to Comic-Con and why?
My first Comic-Con was in 1996. I was a new author for Del Rey Books, promoting the first book in my fantasy series under my pseudonym “James Clemens.” I didn’t know what to expect—and I was blown away. Walking in there, I knew I had found my true tribe.
Are there other events like this in the U.S. that you attend or is Comic-Con it for you?
I’ve attended other large conferences and conventions: Dragon Con, World Con, Bouchercon, Thrillerfest. But they are pale, small shadows of San Diego Comic-Con. I’ve said it before: there is NOTHING like Comic-Con.
In your new book, Blood Line, you take readers to the edge of medicine, genetics, and technology, revealing the next evolutionary leap forward: immortality. What drew you to this topic?
It came from a Time magazine cover article: 2045, the Year Man Becomes Immortal. I read that and realized that’s within our lifetime. It seemed impossible, but it sent me on a year-long investigation into the amazing and often chilling hunt for that elusive fountain of youth. What I uncovered and reveal in this book will shock most readers.
In Blood Line, you put forth several premises for our immortality. How realistic are these premises? Can you see a future where man can make the choice to be immortal?
After all my research, I’m convinced that we are heading into the next big leap for mankind, where the limits of longevity will be shattered. We might not achieve immortality, but we will vastly increase the average life expectancy, to such an extent that life spans will double if not triple.
What do you see as the ramifications of immortality to society and to the individual?
That’s what I love exploring about this subject matter: how such scientific advancements challenge us as a species. It raises questions about who will be granted this gift (or curse) of immortality and who will not. And if you did have an infinite number of days, how would that change your outlook on life? Would inertia or boredom set in? What about overpopulation? All of these moral questions are great fodder to explore in a novel.
You are a vet by profession. What about your profession has impacted your writing?
I love animals and you’ll see many of them peppered throughout my novels. In this particular book, I debut a military working dog named Kane. It was great fun to explore that bond between Kane and his handler, but I also wrote scenes from Kane’s perspective, to put my readers in the paws of that war dog, to experience the world as a real dog would.
What is the best advice you give to aspiring authors?
There’s the old adage: Write Every Day. And that’s true, but you should also be READING every night. There is nothing better for teaching the craft of writing than a good book.
How can your fans best stay in touch with you? And you with them?
My website (www.jamesrollins.com) is chocked full of information about the books and writing, but I’m also on Facebook (okay, I probably spend too much time there).
When will you be back in San Diego?
I’ll be keynoting and teaching at the 12th annual La Jolla Writers Conference this coming Nov. 2-4. Check it out at www.lajollawritersconference.com.
What costume will you be wearing at Comic-Con?
Considering I’ll be running straight from the airport to the panel I’m on at Comic-Con, I’ll be wearing the costume of a harried, jetlagged writer on tour.
NY Times bestselling author James Rollins holds a doctorate in veterinary medicine and resides in the Sierra Nevada mountains. An avid spelunker and cerified scuba enthusiast, he can often be found underground or underwater. Rollins can be found on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, at www.jamesrollins.com, and this Nov. 2-4 Rollins will be a keynote speaker and teach at the 12th annual La Jolla Writers Conference here in San Diego.
Literary publicist and book project manager Antoinette Kuritz is the founder of the La Jolla Writers Conference, the host of Writer’s Roundtable Radio Show, and can be seen recommending books on KUSI-TV Good Morning San Diego. www.lajollawritersconference.com www.strategiespr.com