Today I have an interview with author Mike Dickenson about his new book, IQ84. First, let’s take a look at the book we’ll be discussing.
An unknown terrorist has released a biological weapon onto the American public. Anyone with an IQ over 84 is in danger – people’s heads are exploding – the country is on lockdown. Everything is about to change forever.
Luckily, some people are still alive. Like the President of the United States. And Congress. And millions of idiots determined to figure out why their heads aren’t blowing up.
Which brings us to David Dingle. He’s the not-too-bright guy whom this whole story revolves around. A lot of people revolve around David Dingle. Some of them include a Las Vegas cocktail waitress, an ineffective jihadist, a Grand Dragon of the KKK, a creationist and his very extended family, a pill-popping doctor, a drop-dead sexy clepto-nympho-suicidal-maniac, and a rogue Illuminati mastermind to name just a few.
Now David Dingle doesn’t know much about these people, but frankly, he doesn’t know much about much. He’s just a simple American with a government job and a fantastic phone who one day finds himself at the epicenter of the biggest biological terrorist attack perpetrated on American soil. And now everyone’s after him. Not cool. All the while, the President of the United States has to keep voters’ heads from blowing up before re-elections – things couldn’t get worse.
A timely satire that dives into the darkest corners of American Culture, IQ84 examines some of the most controversial issues in America today. It’s a book about freedom.
Read my review: http://quietfurybooks.com/bookreview-iq84-mike-dickenson
Interview with Mike Dickenson
What was the inspiration behind this story?
My inspiration for IQ84 came from the insanity of American politics and The Stand by Stephen King. There’s always been a dull ache in my head when I start thinking about our current political paradigm – could our world really be this crazy? I began to imagine what would happen if a virus killed everyone in America with an IQ over 84. That concept had me laughing for days.
Tell us about your main character.
David Dingle is, in my mind, your average American. Not too smart, not too dumb, overly-focused on work, way overly-focused on his phone, and completely out of touch with reality. He’s a nice guy with a lot of potential that’s wasted by his distractibility. He’s just never spent much time asking questions without using Google.
Which is your favorite minor character and why?
President Benjamin Alan is without a doubt my favorite minor character. This guy is charismatic, egotistical, and a complete idiot. He relies on his advisors to make his decisions for him, and while “those poor voters’ heads are exploding”, President Alan is mostly concerned about winning re-elections.
What is your favorite personality trait of your main character?
I love David Dingle’s gullibility. David Dingle doesn’t want to think for himself so he’s completely at ease letting any carbon-based life-form tell him what’s going on. This of course leads him down a very confusing road of self-discovery where he struggles to ascertain if he is in fact the reincarnation of Jesus Christ, a sleeper-agent programmed to kill the President, or the terrorist responsible for unleashing a deadly virus onto the American public.
What is your favorite personality trait of your bad guy/girl?
Melech Rothschild is the man behind the curtain, an Illuminati mastermind who has developed a virus that will kill anyone with an IQ over 84. He is also a germaphobe, so that makes things interesting. His utter distaste for proletariats means he’s totally gotta hang out with them, right?
Tell us something funny about one of your characters.
Bishop Jacob Timpson, a fundamental creationist, believes that the virus has sparked the beginning of the apocalypse. He and his 6 wives and twelve children couldn’t be happier.
One of your characters is going on a shopping spree. Where does he/she go and what does he/she buy?
David Dingle – a new phone. Jerry Burger – a new glass bong. Special Agent Jon Boring – bullets, lots of bullets.
Your character is at a bookstore. Which section is he/she shopping in? What book is in his/her hand right now?
These people don’t read. Trust me. I’d be surprised if they can read. Coloring books, maybe?
Your character has the music blasting. What’s playing, and what is he/she doing while listening?
David Dingle will listen to whatever anyone tells him he should listen to. He’s not really listening. He’s playing a trial version of Zombie Meerkats on his phone.
I’m inviting your main character to dinner. What should I make?
Just pop something in the microwave. Cooking is hard.
Your main character is planning a vacation. Where is he/she going?
Somewhere with a strong wi-fi signal.
Were you surprised by the behavior of any of your characters or the direction of your plot at any point while writing?
These characters are pretty selfish, so when one of them has an “ah-ha” moment it takes the reader by surprise. Like when Veryonica realizes that trying to kill herself for no apparent reason is pretty stupid – but killing yourself for a cause, now that’s something she could get behind.
Please share a few favorite lines or one paragraph.
With a nod of renewed confidence, Benjamin Alan adjusted the microphone. “Gentlemen and Lady,” he said, acknowledging the Oregon Senator. “We are officially moving into uncharted territory. Not since the great days of Abraham Lincoln were we at such a crossroads. Our industry, our economy, and dammit, our voters are suffering out there.” He shook his head sadly for effect. “I think the time has finally come to act in the best interest of the American public.” He looked out. “We put it off for as long as we could. It was a good run, boys, a mighty good run.” Everyone turned to each other and nodded in agreement.
How long did it take you to write this book?
Though I came up with the concept for this book almost ten years ago, once I actually sat down and wrote it, I was able to produce the first draft in about 6 months.
If your book was made into a movie, who would you like to play the lead characters?
Seth Rogan, Leslie Nielsen, Ed Helms
How did you come up with the title?
I originally titled the book IQ81 because I was born in 81. But as the book took more and more Orwellian turns, it just made sense to call it IQ84.
Tell us about your cover art and how it pertains to your story.
I wanted something edgy and captivating. IQ84 is not a book for people who get easily offended, so I wanted to make that clear right off the bat. It’s slapstick and low-brow in many ways, but it’s also for people who can appreciate deep, though-provoking conflicts embedded in the social construct that we call Life in America.
Of all the books out there, why should readers choose this one?
People should read this book because it’s funny – really funny. It’s unique because there are so many characters in IQ84 that it doesn’t read like most books you pick off the shelf. It’s for anyone who appreciates good satire and new perspectives of American culture.
Is there an underlying theme in your book? If so, tell us about it and why/if it’s important to you.
IQ84 is also a book about man’s relationship with the natural world (betcha didn’t see that one coming!). I’m a wilderness guide and my life’s mission is to deepen the bond that humanity has with this planet. As the plot evolves, so begins a cascade of natural disasters. Don’t want to spoil anything, but it’s a good idea to take care of the planet.
Fiction can often provide powerful life lessons. What message do you hope readers get from your book?
I’d like readers to question the world around them – don’t believe everything you see or read on the news. Also, treat planet earth well, it’s the only one we’ve got.
About the Author
Mike Dickenson started writing in first grade, and never looked back, though he still isn’t a big fan of cursive. Author, filmmaker, wilderness guide and world traveler, Mike strives to create works of fiction that will create a better, healthier, and funnier world.
Connect with Mike
Thanks for reading. 🙂