NO TIME TO DIE focuses on a 20 year-old woman who stopped aging at 14 years-old – where did you get this idea?
A few years back, I saw a documentary on Discovery Health about a young woman who had inexplicably stopped aging. She was almost 20 years old but had stayed frozen as a toddler her whole life, baffling doctors and scientists alike. The case caught my attention because I've always been interested in medical mysteries, and like many people, I'm also fixated on the promise of eternal youth. Yet staying young forever, as welcome as it might be, could also be a curse. I decided to explore it further in a novel, but I didn't want my protagonist stuck as a toddler without much mental or emotional capacity. So I decided to trap her in the worst possible page for maximum drama and frustration. What could be worse than 14?
How did you research aging for NO TIME TO DIE?
I read some textbooks about both the physiology, genetics, and social aspects of ending aging. I developed a professional correspondence with a leading researcher who answered all my questions pertaining to my book's specific scenario in great detail. We went back and forth many times on the hypothetical scenario I created with his help, so it's as credible as possible while still being fiction.
What led you to write in the thriller genre?
I feel into it by accident. When I started writing fiction, I gravitated toward stories with high stakes, increasing tension, cliffhanger chapters, and a fast pace. I didn't actually intend to write in any genre, but after I wrote my first book, I realized I'd written a thriller.
How was the book title chosen?
My wonderful late mentor, Michael Palmer, suggested the title to me when I told him I was stuck on a title. (Titles are impossible.) Everyone at the publishing house immediately liked it, so we went with it. It's extra meaningful because Michael died shortly after I turned in the final manuscript. It was one of the last novels he read.
One of the main reasons scientists are busy researching defying aging is because: they have a back story. Many have a loved one they wish could have lived longer – it’s a very human side to all the scientific lab work involved – was your writing process different when explaining the scientific lab work vs. the human and emotional side of your characters?
Yes, writing about the lab work was more of an intellectual challenge, because I had to figure out how to incorporate real-life details with fictional ones. It was like a puzzle. Writing about the human side came more naturally. I tried to tap into how I might feel in their place, and why I might do what they were doing, so I could access that yearning and vulnerability.
Do you have any advice for emerging writers trying to turn out their first book?
Be patient and keep writing a little bit every day. Set a goal of your minimum word count and don't leave the desk until you hit it. I aim for 800-1000 words a day. Outlining is very helpful so you know where you're headed and can write with purpose. If you get stuck, join a writing workshop and/or hire a writing coach or freelance editor. I have done all of the above.
What do you want readers to take away from NO TIME TO DIE?
First and foremost, that they will be transported on a thrilling and satisfying journey with characters they've become invested in. Then: that they'll possibly think about their own positions on the controversial subjects the book raises, and finally that they will be shocked by the big twist ending.
About the Author
Kira is a writer based in New York City. She graduated with high honors from New York University in 2007 with a degree in journalism, after four years of various reporting internships: covering street crime for The Daily News, writing about Capitol Hill for The Orange County Register in Washington, D.C., reporting on business and technology for Newsday, and researching feature stories for New York magazine. After completing her first book, Living Proof, Peikoff worked for several years in the editorial departments at two New York publishing houses, which gave her an invaluable inside look at the publishing process and the rapidly changing industry. Peikoff is working on her third thriller, freelancing for a variety of major media outlets, and attending Columbia University's Master of Science program in Bioethics.
About her book
Someone is out for blood—Zoe Kincaid’s blood. She’s a 20-year-old trapped in the body of a 14-year-old girl and her DNA could hold the secret of immortality. Could it be the Columbia University researchers who see her as the key to fame and tenure? The shadowy figure, known only as Galileo, who is kidnapping the world’s best researchers? The Justice Department head who seems a little too intent on getting her alone? Or the maniac who just fed a leading scientist to his chimpanzees?
Zoe knows that unlocking the secrets of genome could save her beloved grandfather, a retired physician and former Olympian who grows frailer by the day. Can she trust the rogue physician whose secret lair hides discoveries that might just save her grandfather? Heart-pounding twists just keep coming in Kira Peikoff’s stunning biomedical thriller.
Science has barely begun to unlock the secrets written in our DNA. Researchers are relentlessly hunting for the answers to chronic diseases, cancer, rare disorders and the biggest mystery of them all—aging—but at what cost? Bioethicist Peikoff asks the most troubling scientific question of our time in this taut thriller: when does medicine cross the line?