Friday, October 27, 2023

Q&A with Peter Berk



Peter Berk is the author of the new novel TimeLock 2: The Kyoto Conspiracy. It's the second in his TimeLock series. He is also a screenwriter. The original TimeLock novel was based on a screenplay draft he had written with his late father, Howard Berk.


Q: Did you know when you wrote the first TimeLock novel that you'd be writing a series?


A: The first TimeLock novel was actually based on a 120-page screenplay my dad and I had written years earlier and even with some extra material, the first draft of the book was only 200 or so pages. I figured that would be much too short to submit to a publisher, so I wrote a whole second half that picked up where the first left off.


Ironically, though, it turned out that my amazing publisher - IngramElliott - was looking for shorter novels for their popular IESnaps! line (shorter books that can be read in one or two sittings that are also well suited to be made into films or TV series) and they suggested that my "second half" become a stand-alone sequel.


At that point, I realized there were a couple of other scripts in the same action/sci-fi genre I had written with my father that could be reworked into additional TimeLock sequels, so now there are at least three more in the series yet to come.


Q: What inspired the plot of TimeLock 2: The Kyoto Conspiracy?


A: ​In the first book, set a decade from now in D.C. and Maryland – 23-year-old Morgan Eberly is wrongly convicted of murder and becomes among the first to be processed through a radical cellular acceleration process called TimeLock whereby prisoners are instantly aged the number of years of their sentence.


Morgan manages to escape halfway through his 40-year processing and finds himself not only suddenly middle-aged but on the run from the authorities and convinced the people behind TimeLock, including the likely next president of the United States, Myra Winters, are the ones who really murdered the man Morgan was believed to have killed and that the TimeLock program is fatally flawed.


Along the way, Morgan teams up with a reluctant FBI agent named Janine Price and eventually they not only bring down the TimeLock program and exonerate Morgan, but in fact fall in love.


Ultimately, the first book left many people and situations at a crossroads. Still left unanswered, for example, were three key questions: will Morgan and Janine make it as a couple, will Myra Winters try to reconstitute the TimeLock program, and might there be a way for Morgan to regain the 20 years he lost?


Since the original TimeLock prison program had been shut down at the end of the first novel, I knew I had to take the sequel in a somewhat different direction and the answer seemed clear – what if the unhinged new President Winters is desperate to create a weaponized version of TimeLock - nothing to do with aging, but a way to cause instant mental and physical degradation among enemy combatants on the battlefield?

And what if this same president is so determined to give America the edge in any wartime situation that she’s willing to break international laws against biological weapons and even kidnap the world’s leading geneticist and his wife to force him to do her bidding?


Fortunately, there’s one crucial fact President Winters doesn’t know - this very same geneticist and his wife are dear friends of Morgan and Janine, so when they’re kidnapped in Kyoto, Japan, our heroes quickly rush to their rescue.


But saving them is only the first step, because next Morgan and Janine must journey to Siberia to stop President Winters' insane plans once and for all.


Q: How do you think your characters have changed from one book to the next?


A: Quite a bit, actually. When we first meet Morgan Eberly in the original TimeLock novel, he’s only 23 and while he’s extremely bright, he has trouble committing to anything or anyone.


Horrific though it is for him to suddenly age 20 years, however, by the end of the book he has to admit the experience has changed him in many ways for the better – he’s finally ready to embark on a long-term relationship, even marriage, and can’t imagine anyone other than Janine to spend his life with. 


In TimeLock 2, Morgan and Janine learn to bring out the best in each other. Whereas he was at one time something of a loner and drifter, she is now helping ground him and inspire him to be the loving and dependable person she has long thought he could be.


By contrast, Morgan has helped Janine become a bit less rigid and by the book – traits that have defined her life while growing up in a family of police officers and then becoming a fast-rising FBI agent.


Q: What do you hope readers take away from the story?


A: Despite the seemingly somber nature of the stories in both TimeLock novels and despite Morgan and Janine being in near constant danger in virtually every corner of the world, I want readers to have fun with these books – especially since I tried to inject a fair share of lightheartedness, humor and romance in both novels (each entirely “narrated” by Morgan in first person).


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I’ve actually finished TimeLock 3: The Millennium Paradox and TimeLock 4: The Darwin Revelation and am now working on TimeLock 5: The Zenith Epiphany.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: Just that I’ll be eternally grateful to Tiffany Elaine and P.E. Calvert, the brilliant and inspiring team behind IngramElliott Publishing (, who’ve given me the best gift possible – an opportunity to “collaborate” again with my beloved dad seven years after losing him (and my equally cherished mother, Lynn).


Morgan and Janine may be the heroes in the TimeLock series but – please forgive the pun - these two amazing women will always be the real heroes in my book.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Peter Berk.

No comments:

Post a Comment