Author Peter Berk reflects on working with his father & the inspiration for the new action thriller series, TimeLock.
Peter and his father, Howard, shared more than DNA—they shared a love of film and television and atalent for writing. Indeed, Howard was an award-winning film and TV writer and book author whosecredits included such classic series as Columbo, Mission: Impossible, and The Rockford Files.
Over the years, Peter and Howard worked on numerous projects together, but one screenplay stoodout among the rest. It was a clever idea about the future of the justice system in America.
In a country burdened with rampant crime and prison overcrowding, ambitious politicians roll out aninnovative, but controversial technology called ‘TimeLock’ that instantly ages prisoners the number of years of their sentence—the ultimate punishment for inmates and the ultimate deterrent forpotential criminals. Just one problem, though: what happens . . . if you happen to be innocent?
These and other questions about morals, politics, and the danger of power are brilliantly addressed bythe authors in this story, along with a plucky hero, a little romance, and lots of action and humor.
Although Peter lost his father, Howard, before translating this exciting story into a novel, the father-son spirit of family and creativity is fully present in this work. And the circle continues as Peter nowcollaborates with his own sons, Jordan and Daniel, on various creative endeavors.
Why did you pick this particular subject matter to write about?
I always thought the premise of TimeLock was one of my father’s cleverest ideas, so when COVID hitand I was stuck at home day after day like most people, I was inspired to translate the originalscreenplay we wrote into a novel. Beyond the action and sci-fi elements of the story, however, I always felt the most interesting aspect of the premise was how a young man with his whole future ahead of him is forced to adjust to sudden middle age when he becomes one of the first to undergo the radical and terrifying process that is TimeLock.
What makes you the happiest?
Corny as it is–family, of course, friends, writing (both fiction and music) and tennis–the one sport I’mfairly good at (for my age!).
What fact about yourself would really surprise people?
I can’t say this would qualify as surprising info to anyone, but I actually originally planned on becoming a film composer and songwriter. Inspired by such movie composers as John Barry, JerryGoldsmith, and John Williams, I locked onto writing music as a career as young as 13 years old andthought I’d have my first Oscar by 25. It obviously didn’t exactly work out that way, but to my greatpleasure, both of my sons, Jordan and Daniel, are excellent composers and Daniel has already amassedsome 75 film, TV and commercial music scoring credits–about 73 more than I ever did!
What is your favorite scene in your book? Why?
I have two favorite scenes, actually. The first is an early lighthearted scene at Morgan’s workplacewhen he and two of his fellow programmers hack into their horrible boss’s car and take over its spokennavigation system. It’s a silly scene that doesn’t advance the plot in any way, but I think it providessome levity before the action kicks in shortly thereafter. It also, I hope, depicts Morgan as the youngand slightly immature man he is before TimeLock changes everything. My other favorite scene is inthe prison auditorium when Morgan, his fellow inmates and we the readers first truly become aware ofwhat TimeLock is and the horrifying future these prisoners are about to face.
What books did you love growing up?
Like many young people of my generation, I devoured the Ian Fleming/James Bond novels, but alsogravitated toward sci-fi authors such as Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov, while also taking in suchclassics as Catcher in The Rye and To Kill a Mockingbird. As I got older, I tended to alternate between“fun” reads like some of the ones mentioned above and books about WWII and world history. And ofcourse I can’t leave out my father’s first two novels, The Hero Machine and The Sun Grows Cold.
Please tell us something about your book that is not in the summary.
TimeLock actually began life as a screenplay I wrote with my father—and two more of the five novellasplanned for the series also originated as movie scripts. In tandem with IngramElliott Publishing, I verymuch hope to bring some or all of these stories to the big or little screen in the future.
What motivates you to write?
The never-ending inspiration of my father, Howard–the best writer I’ve ever known. I’ll cherish the countless hours we spent writing together and now I can honestly say that thanks to IngramElliott,bringing the projects my dad and I wrote together to life in this series of novellas is easily the mostgratifying work I’ve ever done in my life.
Listen to Peter & Mark here: