BEA'S BOOK NOOK "I can't imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once." C. S. Lewis “If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” ― Oscar Wilde

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Novel's Two Lives - Guest Post by Joseph Wallace & A Giveaway

Today I have a post from Joseph Wallace, the author of the new thriller, "Invasive Species". It's a scientific thriller about a newly evolved predator from the African wilderness. Before turning to writing fiction, Wallace contributed articles with a focus on the tropical rainforest and invasive species to many national publications, including Sierra and Audubon. "Invasive Species" is the result of interviews with leading scientists in the field and rooted in scientific fact. 

About Joe, from his website

Hi! I’m Joe Wallace. I’m the author of two novels: the global apocalyptic thriller Invasive Species (2013, Berkley Books), and Diamond Ruby (2010, Touchstone), set in 1920s New York City. I’ve contributed short stories to Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and anthologies including Bronx Noir, Baltimore Noir, Hard Boiled Brooklyn, and two Mystery Writers of America collections: The Prosecution Rests and Ice Cold. I’ve also published nonfiction books on dinosaurs, natural history, and baseball, and written on nature, travel, and health for magazines and newspapers. I live with my family north of New York City, where I run storytelling workshops in the local elementary schools and work as a writing mentor for high-school students.

Joe Face
From author's website

One Novel’s Two Lives

For the first two decades of my career, I wrote nonfiction, mostly articles for magazines and newspapers. These days, on the other hand, I write novels.
How enthusiastically have I moved on from nonfiction? At first glance, the break seems irrevocable: In my new novel, Invasive Species, I create a seemingly unstoppable monster and then allow it to rampage across the world.
If the definition of writing fiction is creating something that hasn’t actually happened, then clearly I fit the category.
No one who reads Invasive Species—or even looks at its cover—will have any doubt that the book is a work of fiction. Yet here’s a secret: I would never even have dreamed of writing it if not for those early years of my career, during which I never published a single word of fiction.
During those years, I wrote about giant otters and manatees and peregrine falcons; about researchers working to unearth medicines from rainforest plants and others risking their lives to protect the earth’s vanishing wildernesses; about the outer edge of technological advances and places where technology barely existed.
About the real world, one few of my readers even knew existed.
I loved nearly researching and writing these pieces, became enamored of the wild earth I was lucky enough to visit, was endlessly fascinated by the people I met along the way. Most importantly, I became determined to convey to my readers how exciting, colorful, even surreal our world is, if they would only look.
With my editors’ encouragement, I loosened up my writing style in order to capture on the page what I saw. Increasingly, people complimented my style by calling it novelistic, which I gathered meant that it was as vivid as fiction. I appreciated this because it meant I was achieving my goals, that I was giving the stunning landscapes, bizarre creatures, and iconoclastic men and women I wrote about their due.
As time went on, though, the compliment began to ring hollow. I found myself chafing against nonfiction, and for an obvious reason: It required me to give just the facts.
This no longer seemed like enough. I began to feel that I could do more justice to the world I was witnessing, perhaps capture something of its soul, only by setting myself free of nonfiction’s limits. So I moved on, started making things up instead of merely reporting.
Yet my nonfiction career, what I’d seen and learned, stuck around. Demanding to be noticed, it influenced every page of Invasive Species.
As I’d guessed, the real world I’d witnessed was far too vibrant to be abandoned, even in an apocalyptic tale. Extraordinary things I’d seen (such as the beauty of the rainforest itself, the nightmarish breeding habits of certain species of wasps, and the people who studied both) started finding their place in my story…and then dominating it.
I believe that, even if Invasive Species could never tell the truth, truth could make it a more powerful novel. It could reflect the world we actually live in and, by doing so, get under readers’ skin in a way that more fantastical stories never did.
That’s why I chose to create a monster that isn’t a vampire or a horde of zombies, but is instead something scientifically plausible. Something that you might see during a journey like so many I’ve taken, watch in action, and believe without question could bring civilization crashing into ruin.   
Invasive Species doesn’t show reality, but possibility.
Standing at the place where nonfiction and fiction—and my two seemingly incompatible careers—meet. 

Blurb from goodreads ~  

There can only be one dominant life form on Earth.

In the remote African wilderness, a rainforest is dying. But something else has come to life: A newly evolved predator that has survived the depredations of mankind, only to emerge from its natural habitat faster, stronger, and deadlier than anything humanity has ever faced.

And it is no longer man. 

Publisher: Berkley
Format: Paperback, ebook
Release Date: December 3, 2013
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Thanks to Berkley, I have one copy to give away to a US reader. Please read my Giveaway Policy. To enter, comment below telling me what creature, real or fictional, you find terrifying. I'll use to choose the winning comment. The giveaway ends Tuesday Dec. 24th at 11:59PM EST.


  1. Thanks so much for publishing this, Bea!

  2. Great author post! I loved reading about the turn from nonfiction to fiction. My favorite history books in college were the enthusiastic ones. I loved it when it almost seemed like the author was jumping around telling me something he couldn't wait to share.

  3. Honestly, i would have to say...humans..


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