Every Tuesday, get to know a bit about the stories behind the books you love, and discover your next favourite novel.
Sabitha: We have Ben Winter with us, author of the cyber-thriller Latent State. Tell us about your book!
Ben: Latent State takes place in the near future of Neo-London where drugs have made Virtual Reality feel like real life and the populace are hopelessly addicted. Within this crumbling cyberpunk dystopia, a couple of junkie brothers stumble on hidden tech that leaves one catatonic and the other, Daryl, suffering from episodes where time comes to a standstill. Now, to save his brother, Daryl must uncover the mystery of what’s happening to him, all the while battling his drug problems and the shadowy forces that are hunting him.
Sabitha: What inspired you to write this book?
Ben: The initial idea for Latent State was quite abstract. At the time I was watching a lot of superhero movies and was getting bored by them. I liked the idea of a main character with special abilities but the normal fantasies seemed too easy. It got me thinking about the downsides. What if someone could stop time? What would it mean? To my mind, it would be incredibly perilous; the air would be frozen and everything would be like stone. Those dangerous scenarios created lots of fascinating plot points, and everything else soon fell into place, including the cyberpunk dystopia, and the characters’ addictions to drugs and technology.
Sabitha: That’s a fascinating concept, and I bet there’s some great worldbuilding in the book. How did you choose the title?
Ben: I wish I’d known the title before starting as finding something that said everything I wanted was a challenge. The goal was for it to evoke the main themes: time manipulation, dystopia, control, and cyberpunk. Perhaps I set my expectations too high! In any case, I recall spending hours pouring over a thesaurus searching for synonyms. Then it finally came to me one night in the moments before sleep. I hastily made a note and couldn’t remember what it was until I checked my phone the following morning.
Sabitha: That is so relatable—finding the perfect title is a huge deal. We have a lot of writers in our community. What’s your writing process?
Ben: I broke every rule when writing Latent State. One of the biggest being I didn’t get feedback until I was more or less done. That was tough and lonely, but after many false starts I learned that unless people know about writing, they tend not to give helpful feedback, and all that does is ruin your motivation. I found the right kind of feedback later and had to change some parts, but I’m still grateful for the focus I achieved writing this way.
Sabitha: What do you most want your readers to take away from reading your book?
Ben: Latent State is set in a dystopia populated with flawed humans, but most of the characters are still hopeful for better and battle against the odds to achieve it. That’s the sort of mentality I think everyone can benefit from; the idea that no matter how bad things are, or how far you are from your goal, there’s always the chance to strive for better.
Sabitha: This book sounds very cool—we’re looking forward to reading! Where can the Night Beats community find you and your book?