Interview with the Author
Why did you write The Abacus Equation?
I wanted to convey a couple of messages. One is the story about how far technology and people will go to create a so called better world. Demolish everything around them and start someplace new. A very romantic notion in literature, but in my book it takes extreme forms. The other message is one of manipulation. It is amazing to realize how we are, in our daily lives, manipulated by others. In the book, the main character, Pieter Van Dyck, is, despite his critical mind and free spirit, nothing more than a chess piece in someone else's bigger scheme. But there is no way he can break away from it. Not in this book at least, maybe in the sequel that I am writing.
Curious to read that one, when will it come out?
I am afraid that will be end 2012. But it will come, that is for sure.
Technology plays an important part in your book; can we call it a techno-thriller?
I am a technology and gadget person. My whole professional career I have been surrounded by technology, from laser imaging to life sciences. And I was lucky enough to work in global headquarters of large European or American enterprises. So, I experience every day how technology is impacting our lives, from hypes to disillusions. Personally I would not call it a techno thriller, for that the technology must be the protagonist. That is not the case in the Abacus Equation. The protagonists are real people. The story evolves around their lives, their feelings and their interactions.
The setting is very international. From the Indian Ocean to Africa to New York. Why not closer at home?
I was amazed to read on some "how to write sites", that the teachers are still strongly suggesting that a writer should stay within his or her own immediate environment; your city, your town or province. If you are really bold, your country. I think that is absolute nonsense. The days of the Heimat literature are over. Today the world is our home. Technology makes us free and we can go practically wherever we want. In person or virtual. Modern people move around a lot, you know, even when there is an economic crisis.
There are quite some serious philosophical discussions in the book. Are you not afraid that it will scare the readers?
I hope not. I don't like the straight solve the murder or catch the spy novels. The reader is not stupid. The reader wants to think with the characters or the author. I wanted to bring in some elements that I am sure will make people think while they are caught in a good plot. But it is a serious book. I am not afraid to bring in elements of religion, humanism and economics. But the overall message is a positive one. In todayís literature there is not enough optimism. When I see what kind of novels receive prizes, for instance in Belgian youth literature ... well, it makes me sad. The topics are about rape, suicide; drugs, prostitution. The style is rough as if the only way to get into the readerís mind is to shock him. I am not saying that these topics must be avoided, on the contrary; but the message is a negative one while today more than ever people, young and old, need a positive attitude. A story that is positive, without being naive or a simpleton.
Did you succeed in telling the story the way you wanted it?
I think every writer has the feeling that his work is never finished. When I read my own words, there is always something that I want to change, that I want to formulate differently. A creative work is never finished, I guess. That is the good thing with electronic publishing. A book can change, it becomes an evolving creation. I like that. Even the reader can participate by sending suggestions. The reader becomes part of the story.
Any anecdotes happened while writing?
Well, indeed there is one. When I talked to people about the book, I was amazed to generally get the following three questions. The sequence is important. The first one was: is there sex in your book? The second one: how thick will it be? And only the third question probed into the content of the book. I found that quite amusing up to the point that I wanted to rewrite it to contain only pornographic scenes. But in the end I did not. Just kidding.
What a shame!
How much does The Abacus Equation cost?
For only 4.99 us$ at
You can also download 50% as a sample in case you absolutely want to be sure you will like it.