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Interview with Gregg Luke

Gregg Luke is a thriller author with a major in biology, so of course we talk about virgins with loose ends.


Gregg Luke is a thriller writer known for his thorough research and his ability to create suspense. He also has a background in biology, which makes his thriller Red Cicada so intense and believable.
Thank you for your time! Before we start, I remember your foreword. As stupid this question sounds, but did you actually get your knee replacement?

LOL. Yes, I ended up having a total knee replacement.

I hope everything went well! And regarding the real content of your novel, I just loved your characters in Red Cicada, with one exception: Tarus. He was like an anachronism to me, like a villain dropped from the 80s action movies. What was your model for him, and why was he loving capitalism more than the motherland even when he despised the weak capitalists?

I wrote Tarus as a man trying to recreate the past – but do so with many of capitalism’s obvious benefits. Yes, he was a bit cliché and I wanted to go deeper into his character so we could see his inner conflict. I brought into the story a number of experiences from his past, but it probably wasn’t enough. Good catch though.

In your book, there were several different strains of Red Cicada, but we’re talking about batch 19, a SARS Coronavirus strain. With the number 19. Sent off to China. Don’t you think that’s a little on the nose of your readers? (And it also would mean it spent a really long time in China before taking it’s debut to the world.)

When attempting genetic manipulation, especially in viruses, the amount of research and testing is astronomical. Corona-type viruses are particularly challenging because they mutate so quickly. It’s hard to maintain a designer strain because it too can change before a lab can fully decode what it might do in rats, monkey, people, etc. It is not uncommon for one lab to create a new strain (for whatever purpose) and then have a secondary or tertiary lab to further work on reproducing the strain in a stabile form. Usually, it is sent to a sister lab or one with other connections to the research facility. Russia and China have had shared research project for decades.

(The same thing goes for new drugs. The latest estimates show development of a new drug from drawing board to pharmacy shelves takes between 8 to 18 years.) Yes, I used strain 19 solely because people could identify with how horrible such a biologic weapon can be.

I’m impressed! I was vaguely aware that stuff like that could not be done easily, but having even a tertiary lab sounds like a lot of work. Since we’re already talking about lab working on highly mutable Corona virus and this road leads inevitably to SARS-CoV-2 – you have a major in biological sciences. Out of curiosity, do you think it could really be a laboratory product? Because that idea in your book did not looked to far fetched to me.

Yes, there are many such biological and viral compounds created in the lab daily. It is not farfetched at all. But the same kind of thing happens in nature, too. (See my book Infected.)

I need to check that out! As far as I heard, neither the bat theory nor the lab theory where truly ruled out. We might never know. But back to the world of fiction – I noticed you left some loose ends there in your book. Like the connections that Russian group must have had to the American government (the identity of that smug American bastard in the inside was never revealed). And we don’t know what conclusions they will draw from Tarus’ demise. So – when will we be seeing Lana and Lance again?

A book of this nature will invariably have one or two minor loose ends. Some are intentionally left open to increase intrigue and suspense, and the possibility of more to come. I am actually formulating a plot involving Lance and Lana again, this time with Lana pushing for more information instead of Lance. They may even be married by then. Who knows?

Not me, but I would totally be interested in reading more about them – like I said, I loved your characters!
Completely off topic, but since I like to mix a stiff drink or two from time to time – what is your favourite drink, if you have any?

Tough question since I don’t drink alcohol. I love a virgin pina colada now and then. But my go-to drink (besides copious amounts of water) is Coke Zero.

I think you can’t go wrong with a virgin Pina Colada! Once again, thank you for taking the time.

Virgin Pina Colada

Drinking responsibly is always a good idea, and drinking an alcohol-free version of your favorite drink is a good way to enjoy yourself! If you want to try a virgin Pina Colada while reading Red Cicada, you might try this pretty easy recipe:

  • 2 cl cream
  • 4 cl cream of coconut
  • 16 cl pineapple juice

Put everything into the shaker, alongside with ice, give the shaker a nice spin and you’re done!

One word of warning though: Do not confuse cream of coconut with coconut milk. Cream of coconut is the sweetened version of coconut milk, and also thicker. If you use coconut milk instead, the consistency will be off. (Adding sugar might help a bit in case your store only carries the milk and not the cream.)

Oh, and try to use a good juice, not the cheapest one. Believe me, there’s a difference!

By Stefan

father of two, not enough time to read everything I want to read

2 replies on “Interview with Gregg Luke”

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