Interviewed by Ashley

    Ashley: Where did the idea for this story come from?

    Diane May: Well, I’ve always been fascinated by two things: genetics and the universe. I watch documentaries and Ted Talks about them, and one day, after watching an amazing BBC documentary about genetic engineering (called How To Build A Human), I started picturing in my mind the scenario in Evo, more specifically the part at the end. And then I did some research and found out that we’re actually not that far from this scenario and that there are already scientists who are officially working on extending our current lifespan. And then I started thinking about illegal genetic experiments and what would happen if someone tried to play God and alter the course of human evolution. And so Evo was born.

    And by the way, just to give you an idea of how current the events portrayed in Evo are, here’s a link to a news report that circled the globe at the end of November last year, about a Chinese geneticist who used a gene editing technology called CRISPA to engineer twin baby girls whose DNA was designed to resist the HIV infection: Gene-Edited Babies: Chinese Doctor Confronted by Scientific Community. This means that we already have genetically engineered babies in this world and I don’t know whether to be scared or happy about it. The truth is we have no idea how this will affect future generations, because a minor altering in our DNA could lead to more changes and they might be catastrophic. But let’s be optimistic and hope for the best.

    Ashley: The book encompasses a variety of concepts and ideas, from genetics to ethics to, etc. What kind of research did you have to do to prepare to incorporate those subjects into your writing?

    Diane May: Short answer: a lot of research. Joking aside, it took me two years to actually understand how the science behind the idea in Evo might work, and a thick notebook full of notes. And do you know how much I’ve actually included in the book? About ten percent. But I needed to first understand it myself before explaining it to the reader without going into too many technical details. After all, it wasn’t a scientific paper on genetics that I was trying to write.

    Ashley: The book details a large, far-reaching conspiracy, but feels very intimate and we really got to know the individual characters. How did you strike that balance in your writing?

    Diane May: I wanted the reader to understand that, as you said, it’s a large, far-reaching conspiracy, and meet the people behind it, but without getting lost into too many unnecessary details. As a writer, I have the detailed outline of everything but if I included it in the book it would kill the pace and make the book boring. I always try to provide enough detail to spur the reader’s imagination but not indulge in over-explanation that would distract my readers or, worse still, put them off the book.

    Ashley: Do you have a favorite character?

    Diane May: Two actually, although I love all of them. My favorite characters are Livio Marchiori and Alex O’Neal. You see, people who keep us safe, either because they catch criminals and put them behind bars, or because they go to war and fight so that we can enjoy our freedom, are the people I look up to. They are my heroes.

    Ashley: Will we be seeing these characters again in the future?

    Diane May: When I wrote Evo I intended it to be a stand-alone novel but after receiving reviews and messages where people told me how they loved Livio Marchiori, the homicide detective in the book, and how they would like to meet him again, I’m now thinking about writing a series with him as the main character. I already have some ideas in mind so that’s definitely a possibility. Stay tuned.

    Ashley: What are you currently working on?

    Diane May: The book I am currently working on is another crime thriller, called Till Death Do Us Part, and it is the first book in a series featuring Verona Police Detective Kate Martini. And trust me when I say it, there’s a new serial killer in town and he's looking forward to meeting you. ;)

    Ashley: What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

    Diane May: Phew, this is a tough one, because I still see myself as an aspiring author. But talking from my own experience, if you want to write a book and finish it, you need two things: superglue, to glue your butt to the chair, and your muse pointing a gun at your head and screaming “Write or I’ll shoot!” Just kidding, but there’s also a grain of truth in this. You need to write write write and there’s no magical shortcut out of this. And you also need to read in your genre. A lot. Because the more you read, the easier you write. And the easier you write the more words you get down in one hour. Yes, it can get exhausting and frustrating at times, and yes, while I was writing Evo I felt like quitting more often than I care to admit, but I love writing and I can’t really live without it. Plus, I’m no quitter. So the bottom line is: have faith in yourself, write and read. Stick to this as if your life depended on it and you’ll have amazing results.

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