NO TIME TO DIE
By Kira Peikoff
Someone is out for blood—Zoe Kincaid’s blood. She’s a 20-year-old trapped in the body of a 14-year-old girl and her DNA could hold the secret of immortality. Could it be the Columbia University researchers who see her as the key to fame and tenure? The shadowy figure, known only as Galileo, who is kidnapping the world’s best researchers? The Justice Department head
who seems a little too intent on getting her alone? Or the maniac who just fed a leading scientist to his chimpanzees?
Zoe knows that unlocking the secrets of genome could save her beloved grandfather, a retired physician and former Olympian who grows frailer by the day. Can she trust the rogue physician whose secret lair hides discoveries that might just save her grandfather? Heart-pounding twists just keep coming in Kira Peikoff’s stunning biomedical thriller, NO TIME TO DIE (Kensington Publishing; August 26, 2014.)
Science has barely begun to unlock the secrets written in our DNA. Researchers are relentlessly hunting for the answers to chronic diseases, cancer, rare disorders and the biggest mystery of them all—aging—but at what cost? Bioethicist Peikoff asks the most troubling scientific question of our time in this taut thriller: when does medicine cross the line?
KIRA PEIKOFF is a writer based in New York City. She graduated with high honors from New York University in 2007 with a degree in journalism, after four years of various reporting internships: covering street crime for The Daily News, writing about Capitol Hill for The Orange County Register in Washington, D.C., reporting on business and technology for Newsday, and researching feature stories for New York magazine. After completing her first book, Living Proof, Peikoff worked for several years in the editorial departments at two New York publishing houses, which gave her an invaluable inside look at the publishing process and the rapidly changing industry. Peikoff is working on her third thriller, freelancing for a variety of major media outlets, and attending Columbia University's Master of Science program in Bioethics.
NO TIME TO DIE
By Kira Peikoff
Pinnacle Books; August 26, 2014
$9.99; 440 pagesISBN: 978-0-7860-3489-5
I read this book a while ago. I have had the book staring at me the whole time since I have put it down to write a review. I struggled to write this review for some reason. Not because I did not like the book but because I was only middle of the road with the book. Which sadden me. I was really looking forward to this book. The characters just did not grab me as much as I had hoped. Thus even though the science featured in this book was really good, it does not mean anything for the characters are not engaging. So I felt more like I was just reading the book to read it but nothing that was happening in the story really sunk in and was memorable.
Questions for Kira Peikoff
Author, NO TIME TO DIE
1. NO TIME TO DIE focuses on a 20 year-old woman who stopped aging at 14 years-old – where did you get this idea?
A few years back, I saw a documentary on Discovery Health about a young woman who had inexplicably stopped aging. She was almost 20 years old but had stayed frozen as a toddler her whole life, baffling doctors and scientists alike. The case caught my attention because I've always been interested in medical mysteries, and like many people, I'm also fixated on the promise of eternal youth. Yet staying young forever, as welcome as it might be, could also be a curse. I decided to explore it further in a novel, but I didn't want my protagonist stuck as a toddler without much mental or emotional capacity. So I decided to trap her in the worst possible page for maximum drama and frustration. What could be worse than 14?
2. What is Syndrome X?
Syndrome X is the name researchers have given to this phenomenon of total stunted development. To date, at least 6 people have been identified.
3. Why is our culture so interested in defying aging?
I think it probably derives from our collective fear of death. It's very painful to face down our own mortality and to grasp how temporary our lives are. Religion may provide people with some measure of comfort, but there remains no scientific consensus on an afterlife. So we're forced to accept that all we really have is the here and now. Defying aging would be the ultimate way to prolong our time and avoid oblivion.
4. Your book explores a secret network of scientists – why is it important to regulate what happens in science labs?
This is a controversial issue. On one side, you have people asserting that government regulation is necessary to protect vulnerable human subjects from exploitation by unethical researchers--which sadly happened a great deal in the early nineteenth and twentieth centuries, before notions of patient autonomy and informed consent were popularized. On the other side, you have researchers who now feel stifled by the layers of bureaucracy, like IRBs, ethics committees, and the FDA, that they need to bypass to carry out their studies. Many people, including me, are concerned that these protections have been taken too far and actually hurt more than they help, by holding back and even dis-incentivizing innovations that could save lives. In my book, the best and brightest researchers have become so frustrated with the slowness and inefficiency of the system that they form their own secret community to speed up progress. I think it's possible for a group of researchers to self-regulate and still treat human subjects 100% ethically.
5. In NO TIME TO DIE, there are women scientists. Outside of thriller writing, you write about science and medicine for several major publications. What advice would you share with other women interested in going into STEM fields?
Study hard and be as ambitious as you can. Don't get caught up in the gender trap of thinking that science and math are for guys, and women should focus on more traditionally "female" careers. Not true! Women have just as much to offer as men. That's partly why I chose to make my heroine scientist a woman--to better offset today's male-dominated culture in technical fields.
6. How did you choose the thriller genre?
I feel into it by accident. When I started writing fiction, I gravitated toward stories with high stakes, increasing tension, cliffhanger chapters, and a fast pace. I didn't actually intend to write in any genre, but after I wrote my first book, I realized I'd written a thriller.
7. NO TIME TO DIE – how was the book title chosen?
My wonderful late mentor, Michael Palmer, suggested the title to me when I told him I was stuck on a title. (Titles are impossible.) Everyone at the publishing house immediately liked it, so we went with it. It's extra meaningful because Michael died shortly after I turned in the final manuscript. It was one of the last novels he read.
8. As a writer, how can you explore differently in your works of fiction vs. your non-fiction articles for publications?
The threshold for exactness is much looser in fiction. In non-fiction, I am careful to be extremely accurate in my reporting. Accuracy to a journalist is like steadiness to a surgeon. You're useless without it. (You won't accidentally kill anyone--one nice thing about being a writer--but you might damage someone's reputation by misrepresenting a source.) In fiction, there's greater freedom to stray without that kind of accountability. I try to stay as true-to-life still as I can, but I do have to stretch and imagine a lot, which makes it more fun and also a hundred times harder.
9. What can you share about your next book after NO TIME TO DIE?
In my next book, called DIE AGAIN TOMORROW, the scientists in NO TIME TO DIE return with a brand-new cutting-edge innovation (rooted in real-life): a drug that reverses recent death. They carry out a secret clinical trial trying to resuscitate newly dead patients, and in chapter one, they test the drug on a drowned young woman whose body washes up on a beach. After 24 hours, they successfully revive her--only to be shocked when she wakes up and reveals that she was murdered....