'Killing Time': Caleb Carr

Caleb Carr
Caleb Carr

Wednesday, Nov. 8, noon ET

Log on to chat with Caleb Carr, bestselling author of The Alienist and The Angel of Darkness, about his new futuristic work, Killing Time. He'll be online to share his thoughts about the world of writing, the difficulty of adapting books to movies, and anything else that strikes his fancy.

Missed the live chat? Read the transcript below:

Comment from USATODAY.com Host: Caleb Carr is here with us today. On with the questions....

DC: Caleb: Love your books! When will "The Alienist" and "The Angel of Darkness" be made into movies?

Caleb Carr: That is really impossible to say. They've been in negotiations for years and years. It's not easy subject matter for Hollywood.

Maryland: I was sorry to read that your new book is set in the future. I love your depiction of turn-of-the-century New York. Will set any of your future books in the past (no pun intended)?

Caleb Carr: Sure, probably. And they will be set in all kinds of places. Possibly the present, possibly alternate reality, who knows? But more will be set in the past, yes.

Fairfax, VA: How historically accurate are your novels? In other words, was there fingerprinting and handwriting analysis at the turn of the century?

Caleb Carr: Yes. All the books are based on extensive research. There's nothing in the book that didn't exist at the time.

New York, N.Y.: Who would you like to play Doctor Lazarus?

Caleb Carr: You mean Doctor Kriezler. No, I don't, and I'm open to suggestions.

Baltimore, MD: How enlightened was psychiatry in the early 1900's?

Caleb Carr: Psychology was as enlightened as it is now. Psychiatry was less scientifically advanced.

D.C.: Would the real Clarence Darrow really have argued a case like the one in "The Angel of Darkness"?

Caleb Carr: He did, frequently. He often defended people he knew to be guilty of very ugly crimes.

New York, N.Y.: Why do you portray the Internet so negatively in your new book?

Caleb Carr: Because unless the Internet is regulated, I think it will prove to be, along with people like William Gibson (who invented cyberspace), not only the most pervasive information system in history but the most dangerous -- there's no way to regulate or verify information on the internet. You'd regulate it be having veracity tests for whatever people post on the internet. We need a watchdog agency. I'm suggesting that you do on the Web what you'd do for any other information delivery system -- that there be accountability. If you don't have government regulation, you'd have corporate regulation, motivated only by profit.

Bowie, MD: Why do so many authors insist on portraying "the future" so negatively? Sorry, but I think that we're much better off than people living in the middle ages, or even the inhabitants of the world of The Alienist.

Caleb Carr: Authors do it not because they believe that the future will be so negative, but because futuristic fiction is a warning genre. You're not saying that this is how things WILL be, but how it COULD be. No fiction, whether futuristic or historic, is ever really about the time it's written about. It's using another time period to write about the present.

Comment from Caleb Carr: What you're seeing in "Killing Time" is how things are now taken to a logical, possible extreme.

EL PASO TEXAS: Does the Alienist have the possibilities of ever meeting Dr. Freud or Sherlock Holmes ala Nicholas Meyers fiction?

Caleb Carr: Not Sherlock Holmes, because he was fictitious and I don't believe in using other people's fictitious characters, but Freud is certainly possible.

Washington, DC: What do you think about e-books? would you be interested in writing one?

Caleb Carr: No, I think e-books are a temporary fad that don't have a real future.

Washington DC: Were you disappointed by the reception of "Angel of Darkness" v-a-v that of "The Alienist"?

Caleb Carr: Not at all. It was more critically acclaimed and it sold more copies. And, as a footnote, it's a better book.

DC: What do you make of results of last night?

Caleb Carr: I think they're very good in finally teaching people they can't trust media projections, but I think they're very bad if they indeed demonstrate that there's been any vote tampering in Florida.

I think Lazio did everything he could to ruin his chances to be elected to the U.S. Senate. He's the only person they could have found to lose to Hillary. As far as the dead man in Missouri, that's no mystery -- it was a smart move for the governor to announce that he'd appoint Carnahan's widow to take her husband's place. Clearly, the voters found this the best way to honor Mel Carnahan's memory.

DC: Is this the end of the electoral college?

Caleb Carr: No. It'll be a problem for the electoral college if any candidate comes up with more than 50%. If both candidates remain below 50%, we need the electoral college. I doubt we'll see any fundamental review of the system unless Al Gore ends up with over 50% of the vote and George Bush wins the election.

Atlanta, GA: Care to comment on your adventures in Hollywood?

Caleb Carr: Not really. Most of them have been unhappy, and the ones that have been happy involve projects that no one has ever heard of. Let's just say that everything you've heard about Hollywood is true; every cliche is true.

Washington, DC: Don't you find it bizarre to transfer one man's campaign, qualification, voting records, etc. to his widow as if it were inheritable property?

Caleb Carr: That's the law. The governor appoints who he sees is fit. It's great that he announced the appointment in the election. Usually the public has no say in who the governor appoints. This time, voters got to cast ballots on the governor's choice.

Comment from USATODAY.com Host: We're out of time. Thanks to Caleb Carr and to all who joined in.