My thriller Liquid Fear is about the survivors of a secret clinical trial testing a fear-eliminating drug. Unbeknownst to the participants the experiment has never ended.
When I began writing the book I had a simple question in mind. What if we had a drug that helped people forget trauma? It would relieve thousands of soldiers who suffer lingering effects from combat missions. It could help car-accident victims, and victims of rape, and perhaps those plagued by memories of childhood abuse.
But bad memories are also useful. If we didn't remember that touching a hot stove burned our fingers, we might soon have charred black stumps on the ends of our arms.
And what if in the process of losing “bad memories” we also lost some “good memories”? What is our past, if not the sum of memories?
I've long been fascinated by ethical questions of counseling, psychiatry, and any pharmaceutical attempts to shape and “improve” human behavior. It's an easy leap to see how treatments designed for our own good can be manipulated toward a different goal—such as a conspiracy against the American people.
When I began researching post-traumatic stress disorder a few years back, I discovered the President's Council on Bioethics (the name has since changed). The council had debated the ethical issues of such treatments and rugs. While arriving at no single conclusion, it pointed out the slippery moral slope of selectively altering people's memories.
These issues are pretty hairy. Now imagine that outside agencies are making decisions about our mental state. Trusting a medical professional is risky enough, but what if that is extended to a pharmaceutical company's best interest? What if the best interest is a profit motive? What if it's a larger effort by a government or ideological movement?
What if even love is nothing but a tiny set of chemical responses that can be easily manipulated? What if faith could be erased with a pill and replaced by a different belief system?
If the power to change minds was readily available, wouldn't it naturally and ultimately end up in the hands of the most sociopathic? The idea chills me to the bone. So I rolled that paranoia into the thriller Liquid Fear.
Now the sequel to Liquid Fear is available. Chronic Fear, explores the meaning of identity and personal responsibility, as well as the spiritual aspects of identity.
Come along for a razor's-edge ride. I wouldn't want to take it alone.