10 Questions with Darin Gibby
1. Mr. Gibby, thank you for this opportunity to be interviewed for my blog. Your debut thriller The Vintage Club came out in November. Tell us a bit more about this book.
The Vintage Club is a thriller that both explores the ancient Christian symbolism of wine and imagines ways that modern nanotechnology could be used to discover the fountain of youth.
The book chases an ancient legend about a wine that can make you live forever. It is based on a myth of an ancient varietal of grapes that the members of the Vintage Club believe will increase their life span. Made up of some of the world’s wealthiest industrial magnates, the club conducts secret scientific research to discover what has eluded humans throughout history: the elixir of life.
Their quest hits a snag when scientist Walter Trudell is murdered. The prime murder suspect is his godson Reggie Alexander, a patent attorney whom Trudell once saved from a life of poverty in northeast Washington, D.C. As soon as news of the murder spreads, Reggie goes into hiding—soon after his wife and son disappear.
After being chased by mysterious assailants, beaten unconscious, and planted with a bug, Reggie must come to grips with his own private demons while figuring out how to save his family.
2. The main character of The Vintage Club is Reggie Alexander, a patent attorney like you. Where did the inspiration for his character come from?
The idea of Reggie’s character come from two sources. The first was from a patent examiner I often dealt with at the patent office. He always told me stories about how he would come to work before the sun rose so he could get home in time to coach his son’s basketball team.
The second aspect came from my experience in dealing with individuals who suffer from severe anxiety and what it takes keep everything in balance. I added this challenge to Reggie’s character to intensify his experience in dealing with the members of the Vintage Club.
3. Where does a Fortune 500 companies’ attorney find time to work on a book?
I’ve found when writing a book, eighty percent of the time is spent thinking about what to include in each chapter. During every spare moment, driving to work, training for triathlons, early in the morning, I would think through each chapter. Once I had the scene played out in my mind, I would find a quiet moment and dash down the chapter. I think my legal training really helped because I was able to formulate most of the scenes in my mind, similar to how I craft legal arguments, then quickly reduce them to writing. And, it was a great way to squeeze the most out of each day.
4. What kind of research did you do for The Vintage Club?
Many of my ideas generated from Joseph Campbell and his thoughts on mythology. He gave me the idea that wine represented eternal life across multiple cultures. I then studied the symbols behind those beliefs to come up with my main concept.
The difficult part was how to marry the ancient myths with modern technology. Being a patent attorney, I was familiar with various types of transdermal sensors and how nanotechnology could be used to monitor a person’s blood in real time. I took information from multiple U.S. patents to describe how this would work.
5. Why do you write? Why thrillers?
I write because I have a story to tell. While this is a thriller, there is also an important message behind the story. Namely, that the concept of eternal life is not measured in terms of a length of time, but in terms of how you live. In other words, the kind of life you currently live can be eternal if you learn what creates that type of life. While the members of the Vintage Club are searching after a wine that can make you live longer, the real message is that what the wine represents can make you live eternally—right now.
I chose to write this as a thriller because I thought it would be a better way to capture a wider audience and to present the message in a modern way that most readers could easily grasp.
6. A word of advice for new writers?
Write because you love to write and have a story to tell. If you write for any other reason—don’t write.
7. What have you learned during the writing process of a novel?
When I first began to write, the criticism I received was that my characters were flat. It took a long time to realize what that meant. When I did, I started looking at people in a whole different light. I’d say that changed me as a person as well. It’s one thing to see a person walking down a busy street and think that’s just another person, and quite another to notice they are staring at the ground, dragging their feet and wondering what difficult circumstance they are struggling with.
8. What are your writing habits?
I’m always thinking about what to write about. Nearly every day I jot down an idea that fascinates me and store it in a file to see if I can work it into a story. Because of my busy schedule, I write whenever I get a free minute, including during football games, my kids’ practices, on subways, you name it. My dream would be to get a beach house on a deserted beach and pluck away for a month until I had a draft. Maybe someday!
9. What are your favorite pastimes?
I love anything outdoors. I run triathlons, ski (water and snow), fly fish, and play tennis and golf. I love the Rocky Mountains and spend a few weeks each summer backpacking in where few people ever visit. If I can get away with it, I’ll download an audiobook on my iPod and listen to a good book while I’m at it.
10. What is your next book going to be about?
Transcendence. And, I’m going to use baseball to tell about it.