Meet Peter Berk. He has written six novels, and the latest one, TimeLock, is extra-special in many ways. One reason is that he paired up with woman-owned publisher IngramElliott. Another reason is that he co-authored it with his late father, Howard Berk, whose credits include Columbo and Mission: Impossible. I interviewed Peter to talk about his new sci-fi book, the woman-owned publisher of it, and the double standard of aging. Below is our conversation.
Disclosure: This sponsored post comes at a time when there is more need than ever for more women-owned businesses, including publishers.
Interview with author Peter Berk
Peter Berk wrote TimeLock to honor his father’s memory. As a senior himself, he wanted to spotlight his dad’s work seven years after losing him. The pair had begun the project many years earlier, and Peter dusted off the script and turned it into a novel to publish as a tribute to his father.
Let’s get to the interview.
Your publisher, IngramElliott, is women-owned. Can you tell us a bit about that?
IngramElliott is owned and managed by women who are also writers. The company was founded in 2015 by P.E. Calvert. The idea was that writers, especially women, who have faced challenges in getting their stories told needed an outlet to support their creativity. “A creative person needs to create–with support, the spirit soars,” says Calvert.
The company has won multiple independent publishing awards, and the founder believes it’s due to supporting others’ dreams. “I knew it was important to give voice to stories that inspire and entertain us. Whether it’s a local writer or someone across the world, we wanted to support imagination and tell great stories.”
Info about IngramElliott Publishing can be found at www.ingramelliott.com.
Wonderful. You began TimeLock with your dad, Howard Berk, and you finished it following his passing. What inspired you to publish this novel?
First and foremost was my profound desire to honor my father by trying to bring one of his most inventive ideas to fruition – an idea we developed into a screenplay several years ago. Unfortunately, much as we loved working together and were pleased with the script we wrote, it was a big-budget screenplay at a time when the majority of studios and producers were focusing on comic book adaptations, remakes and sequels, so we moved onto other projects.
When COVID hit, however, and I was stuck at home for the most part like everybody else, I decided to novelize our script, and I was fortunate enough to find a great team at IngramElliott Publishing who believed in the book and nurtured it every step of the way.
How does TimeLock honor your father?
Some 15 years ago, my dad – who had written classic episodes of such shows as Columbo, Mission: Impossible, and The Rockford Files – had what many of us thought was an ingenious idea: what if crime is so rampant ten or so years in the future that the only way to scare potential criminals straight is to use new genetic cellular acceleration technology to instantly age prisoners the number of years of their sentence? That was the basic premise, but the story is really about what happens when one young man arrested for murder – our protagonist, Morgan Eberly – is forced to go through this process when in fact he’s actually innocent!
Because I loved The Twilight Zone meets The Fugitive premise of this concept, which I hope we showcased in the original screenplay, I was determined to bring TimeLock to life as a book. And having that novel published is easily the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done in my professional life.
Please tell us a bit about the TimeLock plot
As touched on above, TimeLock revolves around a highly controversial cellular acceleration process that instantly ages prisoners the total number of years of their sentence. In other words – three strikes and you’re old . . . very old. Just one problem – what happens if you’re innocent?
Falsely convicted of murder, 23-year-old Morgan Eberly is sentenced to be aged 40 years in a TimeLock capsule. When a riot interrupts his processing halfway through, Morgan – suddenly a middle-aged man of 43 – manages to escape.
With powerful forces on his trail, Morgan enlists the help of the initially-resistant Janine Price, the FBI agent who arrested him. Together, they investigate the murders of ex-prisoners who were transformed by TimeLock and soon discover why Morgan is certain to be the program’s next victim and that the deadly program may be under the control of the next President of the United States.
Has this project been therapeutic to you?
Hugely so. Fortunately, I was extremely close to my dad (and my mom), so I’m luckily not one of those people who regrets never telling their parents how they felt about them.
But it was still exceptionally therapeutic to me to revive a project that I felt was one of my dad’s best ideas and to be receiving so much positive feedback for the novel. It’s like my father and I are getting to collaborate again, even though he’s been gone all these years.
Has the project changed how you think about aging and your father?
As a senior myself now, I’ve been adjusting to aging for a long time but writing the book in first-person as we follow Morgan coping with going from 23 to 43 in a matter of minutes helped me remember what it was like to be that young. It also made me fully appreciate just how traumatic it would have been to miss most of my 20s and all of my 30s and then to face the reality of suddenly being middle-aged.
The huge irony in all of this, though, is that every time I wrote about how horrifying it was for Morgan to suddenly be 43, all I could think was how wonderful it would be if I could be 43 again!
As for whether the book changed how I think about my dad, I’d only say that it reinforced what a terrific writer he was – not that I ever forgot that fact – and of course made me wish all the more that he was here right now.
You are making him proud. How do you cope with aging?
I stay very active with many hours of tennis on the weekends and hour-long swims every weekday. When I’m not looking in the mirror, I feel much younger than I am!
Do you think there is a gender double standard in aging?
Absolutely. There may have been some improvement over recent years, but the double standard is still pervasive in much of our lives and culture.
This is especially evidenced in the casting of movies and TV shows where men can continue to secure leading roles well into their 50s or older, while many actresses are relegated to secondary roles despite still being as talented and attractive as they were when they were younger.
Is there anything else you want to share?
Just that beyond my gratitude for being able to bring my dad’s concept to fruition as a novel, I will be forever grateful to Tiffany Elaine and P.E. Calvert at IngramElliott Publishing, who believed in, nurtured, and supported this novel from the very beginning.
Any author would be lucky to work with these consummate professionals and truly inspiring women.
Thank you for being here, author Peter Berk!
When everyone stands up to provide women with equal opportunities, everyone wins. Peter is supporting diversity by choosing a women-owned publisher for his new book. He is shining a spotlight on women-owned businesses.
I also appreciate his talking about the double standard of aging. Only by discussing the dysfunctional norms in society, such as age discrimination, can we work to end them.
Finally, I commend Peter for putting his heart and soul into this new novel. It is a touching tribute to his father, in addition to having such a creative plot.
Where to find TimeLock by Peter Berk and Howard Berk
Get your copy of this action-packed sci-fi novel now! TimeLock is available in print, and as an ebook, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, and most anywhere books are sold.