BookLife Talks with Edward Correia
A sponsored Q&A with the author of 'Tipping Point'
In this new series from Correia, readers follow Governor Melissa Harding, who appears to have won the U.S. presidential election. However, the incumbent president is not willing to give up his position without a fight.
You’ve had a successful career in law, but did you always think about becoming a writer?
No, that has been a development later in life. While I wrote my first novel a couple of years out of law school, about the post–WWII trial of officers from the Dachau concentration camp, I couldn’t get it published. But I did learn a lesson: write about something you know! Since then, I have published two novels. The George Washington Constellation is about a Wyoming lawyer who unexpectedly becomes a U.S. senator. The sequel, Elysia, is about his daughter who lost her arm to cancer as a child and becomes a psychiatrist. I have a special place in my heart for people with disabilities, and I love writing about them. I have also written two books on religion, The Uncertain Believer: Reconciling God and Science and Teaching Your Child About God in a Scientific World.
What was the inspiration for Tipping Point?
I want the message of Tipping Point to be bipartisan, but the immediate inspiration was the chaos of the transition of power from President Trump to President Biden after the 2020 presidential election. The refusal of many to accept the results of the election and the vulnerability of our election and legal systems led me to write about the risks to democracy and its fragile nature. Tipping Point is also about a contested presidential election, as well as about a Senate debate to fill a Supreme Court vacancy. In both cases, one side tries to undermine established norms. As a result, the country faces threats to the democratic system and a dangerous international conflict.
You’ve previously written two books on religion and spirituality. Was it difficult to shift gears from nonfiction to fiction?
Strangely, no. Religion doesn’t play a direct role in Tipping Point, although it plays an important role in the sequel, Self-Inflicted. However, I think a person’s spiritual grounding, wherever it comes from, can motivate people to act in support of a cause that is more important than their immediate self-interest. That idea certainly plays an important role in Tipping Point. President Lincoln, who was deeply religious, had something very real in mind when he called on Americans to follow the “better angels of our nature” in order to achieve a reconciliation of North and South after the Civil War.
Why or how do you think this book is particularly relevant now?
I don’t want to sound hyperbolic, but the American democratic system is at a dangerous “tipping point.” The laws on the books, including the Constitution, cannot resolve every problem. Often it takes judgment, reasonableness, and willingness to follow established norms. It is essential that the political leaders of both major parties consider the long-term consequences of their actions on democracy and the people of the United States. Sometimes, as we see in Tipping Point, politicians have to sacrifice their short-term political interests for the good of the country. If we don’t have political leaders willing to do that, we are in real trouble.
Can readers expect more books from you?
Yes. Self-Inflicted, the sequel to Tipping Point, has the same main characters, including President Melissa Harding, who must deal with drastic climate change and a pandemic far worse than Covid-19. Harding has to rally Congress and the country to confront these challenges while facing partisan politics, a sometimes dysfunctional Congress, a Supreme Court suspicious of federal power, and forces in the country motivated by disinformation. None of these challenges are inherent to our country’s legal and political system. Instead, they are “self-inflicted.”