June 18 sees the release of one of the most intellectually engaging thrillers you will ever be unable to put down or stop thinking about. The book is Lexicon, and its author, shrugging off the no doubt arduous experience of writing such a complex, multi-layered book, a novel as interesting as it is exciting, agreed to step up for a hard hitting Daily Bulldog interview.
Kenny: Lexicon is a book concerned with the use of language in conjunction with personality typing to coerce others. How can we put this expertise to work to coerce people to read your sensational novel?
Max: I’ve given up trying to be a good manipulator. Some people can do it, but not me. The more I try to persuade someone, the less likely they are to do it. All I can do is be really honest and hope they sympathize.
That’s the way it usually works, I think, when no master manipulators are involved. When a book has great buzz, it’s hardly ever because of a clever marketing campaign; it’s that people have honestly responded to it, and they tell other people who recognize their genuine enthusiasm.
Kenny: All right then. Back to Plan A it is. On another topic, were the “Choose Your Own Adventure” style books more nefarious than one had originally supposed?
Max: I loved those books so much as a kid. I had about thirty. They were computer games you played without a computer. No, I think CYOA books are safe, because there’s no feedback mechanism. There’s no way for the maker of those books to know which decisions you made. Unlike, well, pretty much everything you do online today.
Kenny: In books such as Cory Doctorow’s new Homeland there is a preoccupation with privacy concerns regarding online activity. The effort involved to prevent being compromised in that area is somewhat analogous to the more personal form of being compromised you create in Lexicon. Of course the Poets use online intrusion to further their own efforts. How do you see a cost benefit analysis here in terms of an individual’s time. Is it worth the effort to avoid compromise, or is one more compromised by the fear of compromise?
Max: I love Cory’s books; we often write about similar themes. Privacy is a funny one, due to the dynamic you suggest: it’s mostly not worth our time to avoid being tracked, because, most of the time, they’re not tracking us as individuals. They’re tracking our segment, the group of people like us. Whether we opt-in or -out, nobody cares.
Personally, I let them track me. There are so many little incentives to opt-in. But I feel uncomfortable about it. I feel like one day it’s going to cost me, in some unknown way.
Kenny: Is the empty aspect of the lives of the Poets intrinsic to what they do and are, or has the monstrous deviance of their leader poisoned their environment?
Max: Isolation is key, and Yeats is an exemplar rather than a deviant. If letting people know you makes you vulnerable, you have to cut yourself off to be safe. This is the choice we all make, really: we can put ourselves out there to be criticized and attacked, or we can play it safe and never let people in. It just has more dramatic consequences for poets.
Kenny: Why did you do it?
Max: You don’t know that I did! You have no proof!
Kenny: Thanks Max!
Max: My pleasure.