Debunking myths on genetics and DNA

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A.G. Riddle, bestselling author of the Origin Trilogy, talks about the greatest mystery of all times

Last week I mentioned a number of self-published authors whose books have been extremely successful. One of such authors is A.G. Riddle, whose Origin Trilogy has now sold over half a million copies. All this in little over a year, since the first book in the series, The Atlantis Gene, was released March last year. All three books in the trilogy, The Atlantis Gene, The Atlantis Plague and The Atlantis World have been steadily in the top 10 Amazon Bestseller since their release. Wow!

I met A.G. through Facebook and I was thrilled when he kindly accepted to come over to the blog for an interview. Welcome, A.G.!

EEG: What was the inspiration for the Origin Trilogy?

AGR: I've always been fascinated by the Atlantis myth and the idea of an advanced society that collapses rapidly. I'm also curious about evolution and the recent discoveries about the human family tree. In fact, the science and anthropology is what really got me started. It was the seed.

70,000 years ago, the human race almost went extinct. A supervolcano at Mount Toba created a volcanic winter that reduced the total human population to as few as 10,000 (with only 1,000 viable mating pairs). In the 70,000 years that followed, we go from the brink of extinction to 7 billion people, conquering the globe as no species has before. To me, that's the greatest mystery of all time. We know that at the time of Toba there were at least three other hominid species (Neanderthals, Denisovans, and homo Floresiensis). There could be a half dozen others we haven't found yet. Genetically, these other humans weren't that different from us. In fact, we were more of a fledgling upstart subspecies. But after Toba, humans (homo sapiens sapiens) developed some incredibly important survival advantage. We march out of Africa and take over the planet. All the other human subspecies die out.

So I started with the core mystery: how we survived the Toba supervolcano and subsequently flourished, and tried to tell a good tale around it.

EEG: What do you find most fascinating about genetics?

AGR: The genetic difference between individual humans today is tiny (about 0.1% on average), yet that small genetic variation causes a stunning variety in our species.

EEG: Yes it is, but that's because we aren't just "genes". In the ten years I've been studying genetics I learned that besides a genome, we have a proteome and an epigenome, and all these things interact together with the environment to make who we are. No two individuals are alike because of many layers of interactions, not just genes. Some diseases don't even have a genetic cause because the cause is in the way proteins fold or in the way some genes are expressed (or not expressed).

What was the greatest challenge you had to overcome while writing the trilogy?

AGR: The early months. I felt like I had a great story, but it was better in my head and notes than it was on the page (or screen). I spent a lot of months writing, throwing out what I had, and starting again.

EEG: I hear you! Happens a lot to me too! Now that you just released the third book in the Origin trilogy, what's next for you? what are you working on?

AGR: A new series. I'm pretty excited about it but still have a lot of work to do.

EEG: What are your goals as a writer? And where would you like to be, say, ten years from now?

AGR: I just want to be producing work I'm proud of. That's how I measure my success. I hope I'm still challenging myself and telling stories I think are important.

EEG: And we certainly wish you all the success you deserve! Thanks for being with us today!

To find out more about A.G. Riddle and his future book releases, follow him on his blog, Facebook, and Twitter.


  1. Origin Trilogy? Hmm ... now I'll need a new title for my first series (which may not see the light of day anyway, so it's all good).

    Genetics is fascinating. Enjoyed your interview. :)

    1. happy to hear you enjoyed the interview, David!


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