Thinking about your mortality is like wrinkles and the propensity to start sentences with "these kids today"—just another unavoidable aspect of getting older. But, in my case, it also led to interesting questions about the inevitability of aging.
With the incredible technological advances I’ve seen over my forty-five years, why do I have to suffer through it at all? I mean, I don’t hack novels out on a manual typewriter like my predecessors. I no longer have to carefully apply tinfoil to my TV antennae in order to catch an episode of Kojak. Yet I still have to listen to myself whine about my increasingly bad back—complaints that are often barely audible over the alarming crunching sound coming from elbows I trashed over twenty years of rock climbing.
And so when it came time to write my latest thriller, I found myself returning to this subject.
Aging isn't as inevitable as many people think. Lobsters, for instance, don't get old. They just keep going until they get injured, sick, or dipped in butter. We’ve already modified tomatoes with flounder genes to keep them fresh, why couldn’t we do something similar to ourselves?
One of my favorite things about being a novelist is that it gives me an excuse to sit around and ponder these kinds of issues. With old age being the number one killer of people worldwide, it seems odd that so few resources are dedicated to it. Maybe that’s because it's seen as a natural process. Or maybe it's because there’s a group of people out there who have already solved the problem and are keeping it to themselves.
My latest novel, The Immortalists, is built around the latter scenario and the questions it raises. How long would it take for a collection of already wealthy and powerful industrialists to become completely untouchable if they could just keep going on forever? How much influence over the world's governments could they wield if they had the secret of eternal life to dangle as a carrot? And mostly, who would have even the remotest chance of stopping a group like this?
The unlikely answer to the last question is biologist Richard Draman. After a small town childhood filled with elaborate practical jokes, fights, and regular visits from the local sheriff, he's tougher than your average scientist but hardly the first person you'd pick for this kind of mission.
Draman has something no CIA agent or military operative on the planet has, though: a daughter suffering from a rare genetic disease that causes her to age at a wildly accelerated rate. A disease that could potentially be cured by the secrets this shadowy group has decided to hide from the rest of the world.
Determined to either save their child or die trying, Draman and his wife get dragged into a bloody conflict between two powerful factions fighting for control of a discovery that could change the face of humanity. Or perhaps destroy it.
Kyle Mills is the New York Times bestselling author of twelve books, including the latest in Robert Ludlum's Covert-One series,The Ares Decision. Growing up in Oregon, Washington, DC, and London as the son of an FBI agent, Kyle absorbed an enormous amount about the Bureau, giving his novels their unique authenticity.