Breitbart Senior Writer John Nolte’s debut novel Borrowed Time (Bombardier Books) arrives September 26th. You can read an exclusive excerpt here. We asked him five questions about the book’s birth and writing process.
- Why will Breitbart News readers love your book?
The book touches on themes I write regularly about at my day job here, primarily our increasingly restrictive and intolerant culture and where this might lead us. Because my protagonist, Joshua Mason, is immortal and has been alive for thousands of years, it allowed me to examine modern life from an outsider’s perspective. Mason has to remain hidden. He’s also the ultimate individualist. But with our phones tracking us, social security numbers, photo ID, social media, an increasingly conformist media/tech/political culture, and digital money, he finds being left alone increasingly difficult. I think many people can relate to this.
- Did you write a right-wing book to counter all the awful woke content out there?
I don’t mind left-wing movies. The horror of woke is how it breaks the storytelling spell with ham-handed political content. Doing that from a right-of-center point of view is committing the same sin, and that’s the last thing I wanted to do. However, this is my book. Obviously, it reflects my worldview. But, and this is important to me, my only goal was to write a page-turner, to offer readers something we used to take for granted: a story that grabs our attention and takes us away. Woke has robbed us of that pleasure. Just when you lose yourself in a movie or TV show, the whole experience is shattered by a lecture, a political point, a sucker punch, a ridiculous Mary Sue character, or a moment that makes your eyes roll.
- How does Borrowed Time reflect your worldview?
It has a lot to say about modern life, about marriage, death, good, evil, our relationship with God, and more… But there’s a difference between saying something and telling something. At no time do I drop in as the creator of this world and tell the reader This is what you are supposed to think about this. I don’t judge my characters. I don’t judge anything. Judgment is the reader’s job.
Above all, though, the story is about this…
If I were immortal, just a normal guy without superpowers, 1) How would I remain hidden in the modern world? 2) What is the emotional toll of knowing you will see everything you love die? 3) What happens to an immortal at the end of time, when the universe itself disappears?
- America needs heroes again. Is Joshua Mason a classic hero?
It depends on how you define “classic.” Solid characters define themselves by what they want and how they go about getting it. Iconic characters are defined by their flaws. Think of the determination that drives Scarlett O’Hara, Ethan Edwards, and Charles Foster Kane. That drive is both their virtue and flaw. Mason is a good man, but his virtue — the desire to protect his family – is also his flaw, his undoing.
- You say the book took seven years to write. Why so long?
Years ago, I had some success as a screenwriter because I understood character, structure, theme, dialogue… But to sell that script that takes you to another level, you have to come up with a genius idea, what’s known as “high concept” – If a bus full of people slows below 50 mph, it will explode. Three men hunt a shark that they discover is bigger than the boat — something like that. Until Borrowed Time, that Big Idea eluded me. Even then, “high concept” isn’t enough. You have to explore that concept within a great story.
Although I never planned to write a book, the idea of an immortal man selling his renewable resource (his life) to wealthy elites to keep his family afloat burrowed under my skin and wouldn’t let go. So, for five years, I kept hacking away at the story, breaking it out one beat at a time until I had something well-paced, full of plot twists, and populated with interesting and relatable characters. The rules around Mason’s immortality were equally important. You have to keep them simple and not cheat them.
Most of those first five years were spent thinking, not writing. But once I knew I had a solid story, two years of intensive writing followed.
So far, the reaction has been incredible. Best of all, a serious publisher believed in it enough to invest an awful lot of time, expertise, and support. It’s hard to believe it hits the streets in a few days, but I’m excited to have people read it.
Borrowed Time (Bombardier Books – September 26) is available for pre-order. It is also available on Kindle and as an audiobook.
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