Books written by Ray Sullivan

Sunday, 27 February 2011

What Is Science Fiction Part 3 - Skin

In my inaugral blog I mentioned that I had submitted Skin for the Amazon 'Breakthrough Novel' competition.  Now that competition is capped at the first 5000 entries and although there is no quality control on content I'm certain that most of the entries represent what the authors believe to be a potential winner.  The reality is likely to be different, however.

Anyway, the first round, where the book pitch is evaluated, is over and 4000 books have been eliminated.  Skin is still in there with 999 other books.  I think quiet optimism would be a misplaced emotion at this stage however it is a good start.  The next round, where Amazon editors evaluate the first 3000 - 5000 words of each book.  750 of the remaining books will be eliminated at this stage.  That means by the 14 March I will either be eliminated or in the final 250!

Looking forward, what's the next stage if I do get through this round?  Well, ultimately, the winner gets a $15,000 publishing deal with Penguin US and an award ceremony in New York.  If I get through to the final 250 I'll get the US Visas organised - a small investment - just in case.  Meanwhile Lorraine is looking for a frock!  I'll update on progress after the results of the next stage.

This is a suitable point to provide the SciFi bit to Skin.  This is more integral to the story so I will need to withhold more of the details than with the previous novels (Parallel Lives and The Journeymen) as I don't want to spoil the storyline for anyone reading this before Skin.

The backstory is about a company called Korbins that has a manufacturing plant locally.  One of the scientists, Fabin, has developed a technique to extrude artificial skin from organic polymers infused with the DNA of the target recipient.  In tests he has found that mice have repaired extensive skin damage quickly and that the skin matches the colouration of the area repaired.  It has also been noticed by Fabin and one of his colleagues that mice treated with the artificial skin also appear to have fantastic regenerative properies.

I finished the main draft of skin in about 2007 and a year or two later I read a New Scientist report about a research team that had developed a technique to grow artificial skin using donor DNA.  The process, unsurprisingly, differs quite significantly from the method I concocted for the book however it is interesting that the concept was mirrored in part.  However, I shall not be suing the scientists :-)

The next blog will discuss the backstory to DLF, which has just passed the 2/3 point.

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