William R. Leibowitz Q&A
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m a lawyer in the entertainment/media business who practices in New York City. I’ve been privileged over the years to have represented many highly talented performers and some of the major intellectual property companies, both domestically and internationally. On a personal level, I love gardening, skiing, raising koi, and spending time with my family.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in the Bronx, New York.
When did you begin writing?
Miracle Man is my first real effort at creative writing. I finished writing it a bit over a year ago. With the great critical reception that this novel has received, I guess you would call it “beginner’s luck.”
MIRACLE MAN is a two-book stand-alone series, what is the series about and what was your inspiration for writing it?
Miracle Man chronicles the saga of Robert James Austin, the greatest genius in human history (10X Einstein’s intellect), from the time of his birth and tragic childhood through his extraordinary accomplishments in curing diseases. The book is a psychological thriller with a fast-paced twisting plot that’s full of surprises and drama, as Austin battles abandonment and betrayal and the myriad powerful forces (external and internal) that seek to destroy him. In writing Miracle Man, I wanted to create a modern day believable ‘superhero’ who is an ‘anti-celebrity’. I thought that such a person could be inspirational when contrasted with the meritless celebrities that dominate media today (e.g., the reality TV stars who are famous for being famous but have no real talent). I also wanted Miracle Man to be the vehicle within which I could convey, in an entertainment context, certain spiritual and humanistic messages that are important to me.
In writing Miracle Man, the first book in the series, I also wanted to get readers thinking about a real-life problem that affects us all. One of the powerful forces fighting Bobby Austin is “Big Pharma” which views him as their enemy since he cures diseases and thereby makes many of their “cash-cow” drugs obsolete. In short, Austin is bad for their business. Like Austin, I find it incomprehensible that virtually no major disease has been cured in over 50 years. How can that be the case when so much money has been spent over the decades on research? Simply put, there’s a lot more money in treating symptoms than there is in curing diseases. Austin realized that Big Pharma has no interest in curing diseases. It just wants to keep on selling expensive symptom treatments –and as we know, many people are on expensive ‘medication maintenance programs’ for years, sometimes for life. Austin wanted to change that. I think people need to start questioning Big Pharma on many fronts –from the price of drugs — to why there aren’t more cures.
—So, what I tried to do in Miracle Man is first and foremost to write an entertaining book that engages readers and keeps them turning the pages. But within that entertainment context I wanted to get my readers thinking. From the reviews I’ve received—I’m extremely gratified that this has happened.
In AUSTIN PARADOX, the second book in the series, you take a deep dive into some highly complex examples of corruption – do you find that fiction is one of the most effective mediums for conveying otherwise hard-to-understand systems of big-industry corruption?
Yes—I think fiction is a very effective vehicle to educate readers about subject matter that otherwise may appear too complex, cumbersome or boring. It’s a way to “spoon-feed” information and make it not only palatable, but enjoyable and interesting because the factual matter forms a dynamic part of the storyline. Both MIRACLE MAN and THE AUSTIN PARADOX contain large amounts of scientific (e.g., the nature of human intelligence, medicine, cures) and business (i.e., money-laundering, stock market manipulation) information that is woven into the plots. Readers and reviewers have told me that one of the things that they like best about my novels is the research that went into writing them and the attention to detail. For many, it creates another dimension to the books and heightens the realism of the novels. Of course, the trick is to do this without having readers feel like they’re sitting in the back of a classroom trying to keep their eyes open as a tedious teacher harangues them.
What are some of the new themes in THE AUSTIN PARADOX that you did not touch upon in the first book in the series/what is consistent?
There are several new themes in THE AUSTIN PARADOX: bio-terrorism, international financial crimes, and the paradox itself –is the cure worse than the disease? What is consistent is the extraordinary humanity of the protagonist, Dr. Robert James Austin.
Are you currently working on the third book in the series?
Do you always have a well-defined idea of how a book will end before you begin writing it?
I think I do—but my original ideas often become significantly modified as the writing progresses.
Would you consider yourself optimistic about the power of the public to keep big-industry corruption in check?
No, I’m not optimistic about that. We live in a world where the majority of the population gets its news through social media sharing and soundbites. Industry corruption, just like political corruption, is complex. People need to read credible newspapers, listen to credible news media reports, and engage in critical thinking. At least half the population has no interest in doing any of that.
Who are some of your favorite writers and how have they influenced the approach you take in your own writing?
I’m a big fan of Daniel Sliva, Arthur Miller, Michael Crichton and Robin Cook. I don’t think they have influenced my approach to writing in any particular way– but I have great respect for their story-telling craft and imagination.
What is the most fundamental lesson you want readers to come away with after reading THE AUSTIN PARADOX?
There is a serious price to be paid by us all when fundamental humanistic values are supplanted by materialism. That’s why Big Pharma doesn’t want to cure diseases, it’s why Colum McAlister and Gunther Ramirez viewed the unleashing of a pandemic as an opportunity to make billions; and it’s why Viktor Bazhenov and Huo Jin Gao saw no problem in manipulating stock markets to take advantage of a human tragedy.
What is one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors everywhere?
Be very demanding on yourself and set high standards. Your finished work must represent the absolute best that you can do and you have to be proud of it. So make it as good as you possibly can. Seek the criticism of others as you write and re-write. Be patient with yourself. It’s better for your work to be great than for it to be ‘quick.’
William R. Leibowitz has been practicing entertainment and media law for a number of years. He has represented numerous renowned recording artists, songwriters, producers and many leading intellectual property and entertainment companies. William has a Bachelor of Science Degree from New York University (magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) and a law degree from Columbia University.
William wrote “Miracle Man” and “The Austin Paradox” because of certain socio-political, humanistic and spiritual issues that are important to him which are woven into the plots of these novels. He also believes that in our current times– when meritless celebrity has eclipsed accomplishment, and the only heroes are those based on comic books, the world needs a real hero—and that, of course, is Robert James Austin, the protagonist in both of these books.
William lives in the village of Quogue, New York with his wife, Alexandria, and dog, George.