Exclusive Interview: “Percivious Origins” Co-Authors J.J. & A.J. Cook


With Percivious Origins (hardcover, paperback, Kindle), the husband and wife writing team of J.J. and A.J. Cook are continuing the medical sci-fi trilogy they started in 2020 with Percivious Insomnia. But as they explain in the following email interview, Origins is neither the middle part of three, nor totally the prequel its name suggests.

J.J. Cook A.J. Cook Percivious Origins Percivious Insomnia Percivious Escape

J.J, A.J.


For people who didn’t read it, or the interview we did about it, what was Percivious Insomnia about, and when and where was it set?

J.J.: Percivious Insomnia can be described as a jet set, character driven, medical thriller set predominantly in NYC in ten years’ time. A pandemic of insomnia has taken hold, and it is up to the super star researcher of a Big Pharma company, Dr. Cooper Delaney, and a complicated handful of invested individuals, to figure out why his new wonder drug is failing. The answer is literally out of this world.

And then for those who did read Percivious Insomnia, and thus can ignore my SPOILER ALERT warning, what is Percivious Origins about, and how is it connected to Percivious Insomnia? Because calling it Percivious Origins makes me think it’s a prequel.

J.J.: The name is deceptive but fitting. Readers will travel back in time, 280 million years, to discover the secret behind the insomnia pandemic revealed in Percivious Insomnia. This would suggest that Origins  is indeed a prequel. However, at the risk of a SPOILER, the last chapter of Insomnia is identical to the last chapter of Origins, creating a continuation of both novels in book 3. So, there is more going on in Origins than what readers have come to expect from a typical prequel.

When in the process of writing Percivious Insomnia did you come up with the idea for Percivious Origins, and what inspired it?

A.J.: We were well into the writing of Percivious Insomnia, nearly finished, when the idea for Percivious Origins took hold. It was one of those epic quiet evenings when the arc for the rest of the trilogy, not just Percivious Origins, came to us. Inspiration struck from a number of sources, not the least of which included our affinity for nature, and specifically our love of the planet, the ocean and its creatures, most predominantly the whales that inhabit it. We have spent countless hours researching these magnificent animals that share the planet with us, and it was their culture and emotional capacity that inspired the creation of our XYZ characters introduced in Percivious Origins. The plot of Origins was also inspired by recent proof of black holes and the importance of the connection we have to the universe, the Earth, but most importantly, ultimately, to each other.

Percivious Insomnia was a medical sci-fi story. Is that how you’d describe Percivious Origins as well?

A.J.: We like to think of the trilogy as genre defying. While it is fair, and I suppose most appropriate to consider Percivious Insomnia a medical sci-fi story, we deliberately did not shy away from writing across a variety of genres as the trilogy demanded. We don’t live life in one genre so in our opinion our story should not be restricted to one either. In Percivious Insomnia, as well as Percivious Origins, the reader will experience sci-fi, action, mystery, and big-screen romance. It was our goal to pen a tale that would appeal to a large number of readers regardless their age, gender, or literary preferences, and straddling a variety of genres became part of the equation.

Having said that, I feel that Origins falls predominantly into plausible sci-fi and potentially speculative fiction.

So, are there any writers who had a big influence on Percivious Origins but not on Percivious Insomnia?

A.J.: Yes, we would say the work of Stephen Hawking, specifically A Brief History Of Time, was important. Neil DeGrasse Tyson was also a significant influence when it came to the world we built in Percivious Origins. Science is much more predominant in Percivious Origins, so is space. However, much like Percivious Insomnia, it is the characters that drive the story and their outcomes that the reader will become attached to. The science is there to support the story, not the other way around.

How about such non-literary influences? Was Percivious Origins influenced by any movies, TV shows, or games?

J.J.: It’s impossible not to be influenced by the types of entertainment you suggest, especially after the amount of time we have spent at home over the last few years. But I would point to sagas such as Star Wars and The Lord Of The Rings movies as having a big impact on our trilogy. We are both children of the eighties, and movies like E.T. shaped what the word “alien” means to us. It is interesting to see a trend towards sci-fi with an emphasis on emotional connection found in James Cameron’s Avatar and Shawn Levy’s work, most recently Free Guy and The Adam Project. This is the type of feel a reader can expect from Percivious Origins, sci-fi that has the ability to move the reader.

Now, in the previous interview we did about Percivious Insomnia, we talked about how A.J. is a doctor — the chief of pediatric urology at the Alberta Children’s Hospital — and how this led to the two of you sometimes getting into what you called “heated debates and passionate exchanges” when faced with the choice of being medically accurate or telling a good story. Did that happen while you were writing Percivious Origins as well?

J.J.: Arguably, Percivious Origins was more charged with the debates you reference, which we affectionately now call “doozies” thanks to their increased frequency during the writing of Origins. I had a revelation while writing Origins. You can think you know someone, especially your partner, only to be surprised, yet again. Agreeing to write sci-fi — which wouldn’t have been the path I would have set out on had I been writing on my own — seemed exciting initially. A.J., a huge sci-fi fan, would ensure that the science was solid, which would enhance believability so that the characters and the story would be guaranteed to stay front and center. How hard could it be? The only thing was, and I learned this in the very early days of writing Origins, that he is more than just a sci-fi fan, he is a science fan and I was very quickly drowning in the vastness of space — terms, physics and ideas I knew very little about. It was a humbling experience and to be honest one I would have rather avoided. But, this story is one that haunts us and the characters would not let me go. So, we persevered through time, space and countless doozies in order to finish the novel which, in my opinion, is the heart of the trilogy.

Percivious Insomnia and Percivious Origins are the first two books of the Percivious trilogy. Do you know yet what the final book will be called and when it’ll be out?

A.J.: The final installment of the Percivious trilogy is called Percivious Escape. It is currently with our developmental editor, New York Times best-selling author Clete Barrett Smith, and is scheduled for release on November 7th, 2022.

So, is there anything else you think people should know about Percivious Origins?

A.J.: We think it is important to mention that Percivious Origins has been described as daringly original, and is a novel that will subvert preconceived notions about what “outer space sci-fi” can be. We set out deliberately to create something that was fresh and thought-provoking. Something never experienced before. In a sentence, it is a story that changes our future by reinventing our past.

J.J. Cook A.J. Cook Percivious Origins Percivious Insomnia Percivious Escape

Finally, if someone enjoys Percivious Origins, what sci-fi novel that you read recently would you suggest they read next?

J.J.: We would both suggest Andy Weir’s Project Hail Mary, especially if you are fans of plausible sci-fi as we are.



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