Good morning, everyone! I’m excited to welcome Tal M. Klein, author of The Punch Escrow, to the blog today for an interview!
All About Tal
You wrote a book! That’s pretty awesome. Why don’t you tell us a bit about what inspired The Punch Escrow?
Half a decade ago I was grumbling to a co-worker about J.J. Abrams’ over the top use of lens flare in the Star Trek reboot, when all of a sudden our CEO interrupted the conversation by shouting “It’s BS!” It would turn out that he wasn’t talking about the lens flare, but Star Trek‘s transporters. He was an expert in quantum physics, and went on to explain that nobody in the right mind would ever step into a transporter if they knew how it worked. I guess something about that stuck with me. I started researching teleportation and other future tech, just for kicks, really. Then, in 2015 I was going through a real estate transaction, and my real estate agent explained the escrow process to me — and somehow that lit a bulb over my head, it was my eureka moment. I figured out that the problem with teleportation was an anthropological issue more than a scientific one, meaning the issue with teleportation wasn’t the science of it — that would inevitably come — but rather the marketing of it. Once I had that in mind, it was just a matter of placing a compelling thriller in a world where teleportation was the en vogue way of getting around.
Introduce us to your main character!
Joel Byram is based on two real people and two fictional ones. The two real people are me and my friend John Hannon. We’re basically these jerks that people hang around with because we can (on occasion) be hilarious. The fictional characters I used to round him out are Scott Meyer’s quintessential slacker hacker Martin Banks from his Magic 2.0 series, and Alexandre from the 1960’s French film Alexandre le bienheureux, a sort of happy-go-lucky semi-sociopathic jack-of-all-trades. Having said that, I’ve read everything Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett have written, so there’s a strong likelihood I “borrowed” from them.
Walk us through a day in the life of Tal M. Klein.
I wake up in the morning upon a bed of crisp hundred dollar bills. Rubbing my eyes, sleepily I ring for the gold-plated platinum robot butler and inform him that I am ready for my “bath.” At that precise moment, a small crew of Siberian strongmen are tickled with ostrich feathers until they cry. Their tears are collected in a Baccarat crystal decanter and blended with a thimbleful of Hokkaido cantaloupe juice. This concoction is gently massaged unto my body by carefully trained otters. Once I am sufficiently glistening, the otters are skinned — their pelts woven into an exquisitely comfortable robe donned by me while my scribes are summoned. Upon their arrival, I quietly wax my poetic thoughts of the day which they transcribe and embellish into mass market colloquial literary fiction. These manuscripts are dispatched to Howie Sanders, my agent at UTA, to be auctioned on the open market for billions of billions of dollars and gold doubloons. I then eat a carefully prepared lady finger of foie gras, caviar, and truffle, and wash it down with an entire bottle of Krug Clos d’Ambonnay 1995. Alas, I rarely remember what happens next.
Lots of aspiring authors out there. Any advice for them?
Finish! I see too many people out there with a million unfinished projects or one long-standing great novel they keep trying to refine. Screw that. Finish one thing. Believe in it. Make it your religion. The reality is you’re going to have to rewrite most of it anyway, so you may as well finish it.
I know asking someone’s all-time favorite book is a loaded question so what’s your current favorite read?
Because I’m a creature driven by instant gratification, my favorite book is always whatever I’m in the middle of. Right now I’m in the middle of reading Adam Sternbergh’s The Blinds. It’s kind of a Western twist on The Prisoner, except everyone’s the prisoner. I’m loving it.
Alright, the ultimate question: why should we read your book?
If you’re tired of dystopian sci-fi and feel like reading a fast-paced technothriller with a love story at it’s core that might make you feel a bit more optimistic about the future of humanity and our relationship with technology, then you might enjoy The Punch Escrow. If you’re looking for Fifty Shades of Twilight, you should probably avoid this one.
Now for the Fun…
Describe yourself in 3 words.
I asked my daughter, Violet, this question. She said: “Stinky poopy face.”
What is your most embarrassing memory?
Begging a girl I was dating not to break up with me in the midst of a crowded party (it would be less embarrassing if it worked, but I still got dumped).
What is your Hogwarts/Ilvermorny house?
Your characters are sent into the Hunger Games. Who wins?
Joel and Sylvia have a crazy boozy party with Haymitch and watch the games on TV. They pass out drunk before the winner is announced.
A famous movie producer wants to make your books into movies and they want you to cast your characters. Which actors/actresses make the cut?
That exact scenario has happened. When they asked me I said, “That’s your call! I’m barely an author, what the heck do I know about casting movies?”
You just won America’s Got Talent. What’s your talent?
Napping. I’d totally get up there and take a solid 15 – 20 minute nap like a pro.
Radioactive space rock fell from the sky and turned you into a superhero/villain. Tell us your new name, describe your powers, and what does your costume look like?
I’m Justin Time! I can create extra time in a day, up to 2 hours at a time. My costume looks like a Salvador Dali clock.
This morning you woke up with the ability to time travel to only one time period. Where (or more accurately “when”) would you go?
I don’t believe in time travel. But if I did I would go back to 12th grade and ask someone to the prom rather than spent prom night driving around and knock down mailboxes with a baseball bat.
Coffee or tea?
Best ice cream flavor ever?
Haagen Dazs Belgian Chocolate.
Your theme song/personal anthem?
Yello – Oh Yeah
“It can’t be done.” (spoken to me by everyone I’ve proven wrong)
What is one piece of advice you would tell everyone?
You do you. Life’s too short to live out other people’s notions for what you should be doing with yourself.
The Punch Escrowby Tal M. Klein
Published on July 25, 2017 by Geek & Sundry
Genres: Science Fiction, Suspense/Thriller
Book Depository / Amazon / Barnes & Noble
It's the year 2147. Advancements in nanotechnology have enabled us to control aging. We've genetically engineered mosquitoes to feast on carbon fumes instead of blood, ending air pollution. And teleportation has become the ideal mode of transportation, offered exclusively by International Transport—a secretive firm headquartered in New York City. Their slogan: Departure... Arrival... Delight!
Joel Byram, our smartass protagonist, is an everyday twenty-second century guy. He spends his days training artificial intelligence engines to act more human, jamming out to 1980's new wave—an extremely obscure genre, and trying to salvage his deteriorating marriage. Joel is pretty much an everyday guy with everyday problems—until he's accidentally duplicated while teleporting.
Now Joel must outsmart the shadowy organization that controls teleportation, outrun the religious sect out to destroy it, and find a way to get back to the woman he loves in a world that now has two of him.