Interview with Barry Pollack, author of Forty-Eight X: The Lemuria Project

About Barry Pollack

Barry Pollack, who still works in the frontline trenches of medicine as an ER doctor, has a creative life that spans a variety of venues. After a master’s degree in film from Stanford and a fellowship at the American Film Institute, he began as a documentary filmmaker and went on to write and direct two feature films — MGM’s Cool Breeze in 1972 and the Fanfare release This is a Hijack in 1973. In 1980, Pollack graduated from the University of Oklahoma Medical School and began a new career as an emergency physician. However, he never stopped writing. Pollack’s subsequent work includes several prime time television dramas, such as Trapper John, M.D. and Hotel, magazine short stories, several screenplays, and ten years of newspaper columns for the Ventura County STAR in California. Forty-Eight X, his debut novel, was published by Medallion Press in December 2009.

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The Interview

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life, Barry. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

A: After I attended the United States Air Force Academy and then Penn State University, I went on to get my master's degree in film from Stanford. There, I made several prize winning documentary films that led to my acceptance as a writing-directing fellow at the new American Film Institute in Los Angeles. I spent one summer traveling with carnivals preparing a documentary about carnival folk and the "politically incorrect" freak shows that were part of the venue in the 1970's. Because I personally came to know many of the "freaks" in the U.S., I was hired by Roger Corman as casting director for a remake of Todd Browning's 1932 classic Freaks. Corman never made that film but after showing Gene Corman, Roger's brother, one of my "spec" screenplays, I was hired to write the remake of John Huston's Asphalt Jungle and turn it into a black exploitation film. I went on to write and direct that film which became the MGM feature film release Cool Breeze in 1972. My next film venture, This is a Hijack, was less of a success, actually a debacle that ended my Hollywood career and turned me toward medicine. While a film student at Stanford, I financed my way through college by making scientific films for Stanford Hospital. There, I filmed some of the first heart transplants and laser eye surgeries and came to know many physicians. While I was impressed with their work, I didn't see their job as something I couldn't do. So, I went back to school for more science prerequisites and eventually got into medical school. In 1980, I graduated from the University of Oklahoma and began working as an emergency physician. However, I never stopped writing. While working as an ER doctor, I also wrote several prime time television dramas, such as Trapper John, M.D. and Hotel, then magazine short stories, several unproduced screenplays, and almost ten years of newspaper columns for the Ventura County STAR in California. Forty-Eight X is my debut novel, published by Medallion Press in December 2009.

Q: Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

A: FORTY-EIGHT X is the story of the Lemuria Project, a gathering of the world’s greatest scientists on a secret island to genetically engineer a new kind of American warrior -- lethal, near invincible, expendable. Pollack takes two fascinating romantically mismatched couples on an adventure around the world, challenging military and political roadblocks, until they uncover the secret of a chimera, a new species that might one day vie with the human race for dominance.
I began with the thought of combining a story about genetic engineering with the conundrum of our endless war against terrorism and the atavistic nature of war in general. We continue to live in a primitive world - for millennia societies have taken their greatest potential, their youth, and tossed them upon the rubbish heaps of one war after another; as we do today. Despite all our technology, we have moved barely an iota in our moral growth above our ancient forebears. It seemed an interesting concept to take animals - which we use for food, as pets, for entertainment, as beasts of burden - and consider manipulating their genome to create a chimera - an animal with human attributes - to fight our battles.

Q: What were some of the biggest challenges you faced writing it?

A: The challenge was to weave an adventure story that involves genetic engineering, eugenics and multitude of other scientific topics with intriguing characters, romance, history, mythology, battles against Islamic terrorists, US and Middle East politics, and season them all with a bit of humor.

Q: Do you have a press kit and what do you include in it? Does this press kit appear online and, if so, can you provide a link to where we can see it?

A. You may learn more about me and my writing at my website: A press kit may also be obtained from Charles Barrett Company,

Q: Have you either spoken to groups of people about your book or appeared on radio or TV? What are your upcoming plans for doing so?

A: I have been interviewed about my book on several radio shows. Links to some of those can be found on my website. My most recent signing and reading was at the Barnes and Noble store in Westlake Village, California. I will be reading and signing on May 8th at MYSTERIES TO DIE FOR bookstore in Thousand Oaks, California.

Q: Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/is is? If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?

A: I do not have an agent. I have never had one. The one virtue of having an agent is that they are the gatekeepers to being able to have your book read by major publishers. However, there are many small presses that have the vision and verve to publish new authors and perhaps, with fewer writers, give their authors more personal attention.

I have been fortunate that Medallion Press has published my debut novel, FORTY-EIGHT X: The Lemuria Project and will be publishing my next book, OIL AND GOD, to be released in 2011.

Q: Did you, your agent or publisher prepare a media blitz before the book came out and would you like to tell us about it?

A: I don't know about blitz but I know that Medallion prepared a publicity campaign and that my book can be found at many "bricks and mortar" bookstores as well as the online stores.

Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

A: My second novel, OIL AND GOD, will be published by Medallion Press in 2011. It's a suspense novel rife with history, religion, and timely political debates, that might best be described as a Jewish Da Vinci Code.

Q: Thank you for your interview, Barry. Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?

A: FORTY-EIGHT X : The Lemuria Project can be found at the online bookstores and in many storefront one. You can also order the book at Please read more about me, my writing, and feel free to provide feedback at my website:

Forty-eight X

Forty-eight X by Barry Pollack (click on cover to purchase)

About Forty-Eight X

On the tropical island of Diego Garcia in the middle of the Indian Ocean, the United States has gathered together its most talented geneticists to work on the top-secret Lemuria Project. These secret experiments create a revolutionary new warrior so strong and so valiant that the age of casualties of war would become only a sad and distant memory. Haunted by a dark and dangerous past, Colonel Link McGraw is the officer chosen to train these new soldiers. He understands the rules of engagement and agrees to serve his country, reestablish his professional reputation, and secure his freedom in the process. As a trained and commissioned officer in the United States Armed Forces, McGraw knows what constitutes the perfect soldier: following orders without question. When Egyptian beauty Fala al Shodaha and Israeli Joshua Krantz, scientists in their own right, stumble across the top-secret project, they are determined to uncover its true nature and pursue their quest to Diego Garcia. Tensions mount as Krantz and McGraw clash over the project—and vie for the affection of the lovely Fala. When they discover they aren’t the only ones on the island competing for her attention, shocking truths are revealed that beg the question, Is it too late to save themselves—and the entire human race—from almost certain annihilation?

Read the excerpt!

“The history of men at war is writ large with stories of heroes,” General Shell had said before sending him off, “stories of young men who fight and often die for noble, sometimes ignoble causes. Their actions sometimes elevate them to superhuman or biblical status. They become the legend of an overmatched David defeating a Goliath; a blind and bound Samson defeating the haughty Philistines. But remember glory is fleeting and the ends of war for survivors are most often filled with nightmares, with trinkets of ribbons and medals, and uniforms which will soon no longer fit.” The general then paused fitfully. “Put an end to it, Link,” he said, pressing on McGraw the firmest of handshakes.

That farewell speech reminded McGraw of his own heroes:

Sidney Coulter, Eagle scout, valedictorian, age 19, died in battle, Amsar, Afghanistan.
Jaime Garza, Mexican immigrant, father of two, age 24, died by RPG, Ramal.
Richard Neilson, car salesman, poker player extraordinaire, age 20, died by IED, Baghdad.

There were plenty, too many, more. Perhaps with this success, he thought, there would soon be no more.

McGraw had made one adjustment on the eve of battle that he knew his general would have frowned upon. He had given each of his troops a shot of brandy. Not enough to get drunk but enough to slightly dull the frontal cortex that controls executive functioning, that area of the brain that breeds doubt. A little alcohol, he believed, allowed one to think more simply, to dull the noises on the periphery. He took his own swig of the red from his canteen. He too needed to dull his doubts.

The village he was attacking was a terrorist camp and the men there were not novices and not innocent. They were well trained soldiers who had killed many times before. They not only professed that they were unafraid to die, but that they were eager to die for their cause.

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