A computer game developer wreaks havoc after his death via the Internet in Daniel Suarez’s debut, Daemon.
What was your book’s genesis?
I wrote Daemon several years ago, but couldn’t find representation, so I self-published using print-on-demand. As a book about the power of the Web, Daemon was perfect for Internet marketing. My wife and I crafted a viral campaign focused on influential bloggers and tech experts. It was their support that resulted in a feature article in Wired Magazine. After that, sales took off, and mainstream publishers came calling.
Why did you originally publish the book as Leinad Zeraus?
That was the pen name I used for the self-published edition, chosen primarily for its Google search potential. There are hundreds of Daniel Suarez’s on the Web, but by reversing the letters I was able to own the first 10 pages of my novel’s Google search results. It made a big difference.
How would you describe Daemon?
It’s about a successful game developer who creates a program that scans the Internet for the appearance of his own obituary. When he dies of cancer, the program detects his passing and activates a much larger network of programs—programs that exploit the weaknesses of the modern, interconnected world and begin to tear civilization apart. The technology used in the book is real, but I assure you the recent banking system meltdown is not part of the marketing campaign for my book. It’s just a coincidence.
Is it fair to characterize you as an IT guy and a gamer?
I’ve always been interested in programming and got into the business years before the dot-com boom. And yes, I’m also a hard-core PC gamer. Besides entertainment, games are a medium of expression, a subculture and a technological frontier. Millions of machines and people connect daily through online games—and on the same networks where you do your online banking and send e-mails. For this reason, games matter whether you play them or not.
Do you plan on other books after you finish the Daemon duo?
Absolutely. I’ve always felt a compulsion to write about things that interest me. I used to joke with my wife that the urge to write is a low-grade mental illness. I always heard it was a lonely profession, but I just don’t see it that way. I can’t tell you how many cool and fascinating people I’ve encountered as this process unfolded. As someone who’s always interested in learning new things, I find writing gives me the ultimate reason to ask questions of people in far-flung locations about little-known topics. To me, it’s a dream job.