MAMMOTH UNDERTAKING

A quick chat with bestselling author Ben Mezrich who will be on island discussing his new book Woolly this August.

N MAGAZINE: What can audiences look forward to hearing when you speak at the Dreamland Theater’s Page-to-Stage on August 17th?
MEZRICH: I’ll tell you a story that begins twelve thousand years ago and ends with a living, breathing Woolly Mammoth. As well as the end of malaria and Lyme disease, and the possibility that our children will live a hundred and fifty years or more. What else could you ask for?

N MAGAZINE: How did this story find you?
MEZRICH: For the first time in many books, I went after this story, rather than it coming to me. I’ve always loved Woolly Mammoths, and when I heard about a Harvard lab just down the street from where I live that was attempting to bring back a Woolly Mammoth, I had to reach out. I emailed George Church and he invited me to embed myself in his lab.

N MAGAZINE: What’s one discovery that struck you most during your research?
MEZRICH: That at this moment, three prehistoric Woolly Mammoth genes have been brought back to life, and are living in elephant cells in the middle of Boston. Twelve thousand years after the mammoth they came from went extinct — it’s a wild thought.

N MAGAZINE: Beyond the woolly mammoth, if you could bring any animal out of extinction, which would it be and why?
MEZRICH: Well, sadly dinosaurs are out of the picture. Jurassic Park is fiction — in reality, there is no dinosaur DNA to synthesize or engineer. It’s too old. I’d love to see Dodo birds, or a saber tooth tiger — but not up close!

N MAGAZINE: What’s one thing you wouldn’t mind seeing going extinct. Cell phones?
MEZRICH: Cell phones are a good choice. I’d like to trade Eataly in the Prudential Mall back for my beloved food court, but I’m guessing I’m alone in that. My wife certainly disagrees with that one.

N MAGAZINE: What can you tell us about Woolly the movie?
MEZRICH: It’s fast tracked! It’s at 20th Century Fox, and being produced by Marty Bowen who made Twilight and Maze Runner. Oscar Sharp is writing and directing. All we need at this point is our cast and we are good to go!

N MAGAZINE: Of all your characters from Bringing Down the House to Woolly, is there one whom you feel particularly connected to? If so, why?
MEZRICH: I am in awe of Dr. George Church, who is the central character in Woolly. He’s the Einstein of our times, he’s on the cutting edge of this revolution from reading DNA to writing DNA that we are going through. If anyone is going to save the world, it’s Church.

N MAGAZINE: What would you say is the special sauce in your writing?

MEZRICH: I take a true story and write it like a thriller, or a movie. I see true stories in a three act system. I really get into it, visually, and when I write, I see the movie going on in my head. I’m a little crazy when I write – it’s a wild, physical thing.

N MAGAZINE: How much time have you spent on the island?
MEZRICH: Love Nantucket. We’ve been many times, both for the Book Festival, and just for fun. We’ve spent some wonderful times at the White Elephant and at friends’ houses. We have many friends who’ve been going for years. It’s quite a paradise.

Ben Mezrich will be speaking about his new book WOOLLY with N Magazine editor Robert Cocuzzo at the Dreamland Theater on Thursday, August 17 at 5:00 PM. Tickets available here.