Sunday, November 17, 2013

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Author Clarkson Graham

Clarkson Graham, Author
Author Clarkson Graham offers us insight into a difficult period of his life in his book MARRIED TO CRAZY. In this very personal memoir, he chronicles his suffering caused by an abusive spouse. He shares his pain and recovery to help heal himself and in order to guide others--particularly men--who might have had similar experiences.

When he's not working or writing, Graham enjoys yoga, running, working-out, and reading.

Q: How would you characterize your book, MARRIED TO CRAZY? Did you write it to deliver a message, to instruct, and/or to entertain? Is it fiction or non-fiction?

Clarkson Graham: MARRIED TO CRAZY is a memoir of my battle dealing with the pain, confusion, and trauma associated with the emotional, physical and verbal abuse I suffered at the hands of my now ex-wife, who may have an undiagnosed personality disorder (Anti-Social Personality Disorder).  It is a raw and emotional story of how I came to realize my desperate situation, how I managed to escape, how I suffered through the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and how I finally embarked on the process of rebuilding what I almost lost – myself.

I wrote this book to help me along my path to recovery, and also help others who find themselves in a similar situation as I was in.  My objective was to help other people realize that they are not alone, and with the right resources, including counseling, supportive friends and family, and I steadfast resolve to heal, they can successfully deal with their situation and reclaim their life.  I wanted people to know that anything is possible with hope, hard work and support.

Q: Your story is a very personal one. What inspired you to share it?

Clarkson Graham: I did a lot of research and found that there were very few books and resources available for men who have been in an abusive relationship with a female partner.  This may be due to the fact that some men may not realize, or may even discount, that they are victims of emotional, verbal and/or physical abuse, and in other situations, men may be reluctant to share their stories because of a fear of being seen as “weak”.  There is a need to dispel the myth that women are the only victims of domestic abuse, while at the same time, provide men with necessary resources to help them deal with their situations.  I feel that my book will help to educate people – particularly men – about the fact that abuse does exist, and men can be definitely be victims.  I hope that my book will provide victims with ideas to help them heal after leaving an unhealthy, abusive relationship.

Finally, I felt that it was beneficial to share my story about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) so that people can be informed about the potential health risks associated with abusive relationships.

Q: Who are your target readers? Who do you think will most benefit from reading your story?

Clarkson Graham: The target readers for my book are people – particularly men – who are either dealing with, or recovering from, an abusive relationship.  My book is an effective resource for anyone who may be supporting a friend or family member who is suffering from the aftermath of a physically, mentally, and/or emotionally abusive partner or spouse.

Q:  What tips would you offer to other men who might find themselves in a similar situation?

Clarkson Graham: I think the first tip I would offer is to accept the reality of your situation.  In order for you to begin the recovery process, you need to realize that you are in a damaging situation, and acknowledge the fact that the situation will not improve.  It is impossible to make someone change the way that they treat you and therefore, you have to garner the courage to save yourself and embark on the journey of healing.  

Even though physical abuse is damaging, emotional abuse can be far more damaging.  The reason being is because your self-confidence can be eroded by constant verbal barrages and continuous reminders that “everything is your fault.” Once your confidence is gone, you may not feel like you have courage or strength to leave, which can exacerbate an already difficult situation.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  There is nothing wrong with counseling, talking to friends and family, and reading books to help you heal.

Lastly, but certainly not least, stay positive.  The healing journey is not smooth; however, it gets easier over time.  If you put in the work, you will see the results.

Q: How do you draw readers into your book?

Clarkson Graham: The one thing that will captivate readers is that my book is a real-life, authentic account of my relationship to Olga.  Oftentimes, it is hard for me to imagine that I actually lived through these events, and many times I wish I hadn’t, however they are real nonetheless.

The book begins like a love story highlighting my seemingly perfect courtship and engagement to Olga and then, following our marriage vows, things change for the worse and my dream becomes a living nightmare. 

My book follows an actual timeline of events and so the reader is compelled to continue on to see what happens next.  I have been told that my book is a real “page-turner;” however, I guess that is up to the reader to determine.

Q: When did you first realize that you wanted to write your book? Have you always wanted to write?

Clarkson Graham: I never intended on being a writer; in fact, I still do not consider myself a writer.  One of my counselors recommended that I start to journal my thoughts and feelings as a way to deal with all of the emotions stemming from my ordeal. One night I started to type out my thoughts, and I ended up writing about 250 words.  When I woke up the next morning, I decided that I was going to turn my situation into a memoir, and twelve months later, my book was written, edited and published.

I wrote the book to help build my self-confidence.  My confidence was completely shattered, and I figured that if I wrote a book (something I thought I would never do), it would help me on my healing journey. 

Q: Who influenced your writing?

Clarkson Graham: I was fortunate to have many people influence my writing.  I had a couple of counselors who, upon reading one of my therapeutic letters, mentioned that I wrote pretty well.  I am also blessed to have great friends and a wonderful family who encouraged me to write this book.

Thankfully, I never had anyone tell me I couldn’t do it, and that definitely helps.

Q: What did you find the most challenging part of writing MARRIED TO CRAZY?

Clarkson Graham: The most challenging part of writing the book was going back in time to relive and document my courtship with Olga, my abusive ex-wife.  It was hard to write about how much I loved her after having gone through such an immense amount of pain throughout my marriage.  I truly loved her, and it was hard to imagine that someone who was supposedly so loving and caring turned out to be so destructive.

Hindsight is 20/20 and it was difficult to write about the many warning signs that I either ignored or discounted because I loved Olga so much.  The good news is that experience is a best teacher, and I think I am more attuned to recognizing these signs now.

Q:  What’s next? Will you write more books?

Clarkson Graham: That is a good question.  I have to be honest when I say that I do not have any books in the works right now; however, you never know.  

Q: Tell us about you. What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Do you have any hobbies? Favorite movies? Books? Etc.

Clarkson Graham: My journey on my healing path continues.  I vowed to be stronger, healthier and wiser after my ordeal and this has led me to pursue many positive activities in my spare time, such as, yoga, running, working-out and reading.  I am also in the process of learning mindfulness meditation techniques to help deal with the triggers associated with my PTSD symptoms more effectively.  

My favorite books are: Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl, and Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand.  These books are inspirational because they helped me to understand the amazing strength of the human spirit given seemingly impossible odds. 

About Clarkson Graham

I am not a victim, nor will I be. I am a survivor. As a survivor, I was able to subjugate my feelings of weakness and powerlessness and eventually discover the desire, courage, and fortitude I needed to access the support and resources that were necessary to begin the recovery process. I can say that my continuing growth and development has been defined, in part, by my ability to triumph over a complicated life situation, and now, with this book, I am sharing my knowledge and insight as I continue on my healing journey.

MARRIED TO CRAZY is how Clarkson Graham met and fell in love with Olga, the woman of his dreams. Their courtship, engagement, and eventual marriage followed. As their relationship progressed, Olga’s behavior became progressively more volatile and abusive. All along, Clarkson lived in the hope that he could “fix” her problems and live up to her perplexing expectations, until one appalling event drove him to his breaking point. Following therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder, Clarkson finally put his life back together again and was then determined to share his experience, and especially what he had learned, with other people—and particularly with other men—who might find themselves in a similar situation.

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Where to Purchase:
Website (physical only)
Giveaway  CLICK HERE
First Prize: $50 Amazon Gift Card plus autographed copy of Married to Crazy
Second Prize: Autographed copy of Married to Crazy
Third Prize: Autographed copy of Married to Crazy

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Thursday, November 14, 2013

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Author Kathy DiSanto

Kathy DiSanto, Author
Author Kathy DiSanto brings us a unique thriller, AMANDA’S EYES, described by a reviewer as a “futuristic Sci-Fi, mystery thriller with a little romance thrown in.”  DiSanto created crime reporter A.J. Gregson, a “character readers will identify with and cheer for.” A.J. loses her eyesight but through surgery gains new eyes and a special gift. DiSanto says she portrays A.J. as someone who cares but someone with flaws who we can all appreciate. 

Currently a communications specialist, DiSanto is considering retirement when she can “look forward to making stuff up, all day, every day!” In the meantime, she enjoys blogging, listening to music, reading, and walking her two rescue dogs, Molly and Lucy.

Don’t miss the excerpt from AMANDA’S EYES following the interview.

Q: What inspired you to write about eyes with “the power to see into the hidden dimensions of the human heart?”

Kathy DiSanto: As I recall, the idea started with one of those news stories we see all too often:  A crime is committed, the perp’s neighbors are interviewed, and almost to a man and/or woman, they say they never saw it coming.  “So and so seemed like such a nice guy.”  We rely on appearances—it’s human nature, right? 

Think of the beloved British children’s show host who was recently revealed as a pedophile.  Or Bernard Madoff, who “looked” so good, he convinced a lot of financially savvy people to invest in “one big lie.”

Wouldn’t it be handy if we could see folks like that for what they are, rather than what they appear to be?  That thought was where the book started.

Q: A reviewer said “One mark of good fiction is a story’s ability to create empathy in the reader” and that you succeeded in doing so in AMANDA’S EYES. How did you create such empathy? Why will readers care about Reporter A. J. Gregson?

Kathy DiSanto: What a marvelous compliment!  Thank you! 

I believe (hope) readers will empathize with A.J. for a number of reasons, the first and foremost being, I’m pretty sure they sense A.J. would care about them.  This woman considers herself of the people and for the people.  She’s part pragmatist—a realist who sees the world as it is—and part philosopher.  A semi-cynical closet idealist a bit embarrassed by her own belief that she can help balance the scales of justice.  Those are admirable traits, but if that were all there were to her, readers might find it hard to connect.  Not many of us can identify with perfection!  So I made her feisty and stubborn and occasionally sneaky.  She gets scared and admits it.  She has trouble believing in her new talent.  She eats junk food, hates makeup, and likes dogs. 

Q: You have set your book in the future with an “intrepid woman reporter”, which reminds me of J D Robb’s series with Lieutenant Eve Dallas. Did her series influence you?

Kathy DiSanto: Not really, although I’ve always admired Robb’s ability to create strong, intrepid female characters, both in the Eve Dallas series and in her Nora Roberts romances.

Q: AMANDA’S EYES is set in the future, and technically could be described as science fiction. However, the book is also a mystery thriller. Who will enjoy the book more – the SciFi reader or the mystery reader?

Kathy DiSanto: Boy, if you only knew how much trouble I’ve had figuring this out for myself!  Trying to categorize this book for Amazon involved several quarts of ice cream and a couple pounds of chocolate.

If I had to choose between the two, I would say mystery thriller readers will enjoy it more.  Way I see it, in true science fiction—the kind devotees gobble up—science plays a central role.  So much so, science is almost another character.  In AMAND’S EYES the science is secondary—just gee-whiz enough to make the story interesting (and an eye transplant possible), but not so advanced it will give non-science types pause.

That being said, I already have some really nifty techno-ideas for the sequel to AMANDA’S EYES, because I love science.  (I mean, genetics, cloning, exo-skins, flying cars, quantum computing … what’s not to love?)  It will be interesting to see if those additions help me firm up the genre.

Q:  Mmmm. If I’d known that ice cream and chocolate were involved, I might have asked about this sooner. But we digress.

How important is credibility to tell your story? What kind of research did you conduct to make the future technology and lifestyles believable?

Kathy DiSanto: Personal opinion:  When writing about the incredible (as in second sight), try to keep the rest as credible as possible.  This made writing a futuristic novel tough, because I came from a romance background, and my imagination simply didn’t want to warp space-time!

I got past that “future shyness” by reading a lot of science and technology magazines:  New Scientist, Discover, Wired, Scientific American, etc .  (BTW, did you know science magazines feature some of the best writing out there?  No kidding!)  I also read books like The Scientific American’s Brave New Brain, looking at what we can do now, what we can’t do yet, and what scientists believe we’ll soon be able to do.  All that reading fired up my imagination and helped me get comfortable with projecting forward.

But, like they say, a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.  That being the case, I was always conscious of my limited expertise and avoided giving too much detail.  No need to say too much, get it wrong, and reveal how much I don’t know!

Q: Did you write AMANDA’S EYES purely for entertainment or were you also trying to deliver a message?

Kathy DiSanto: I love this question!  The answer is both. Sort of.

I hope readers do find AMANDA’S EYES entertaining!  An entertaining book draws the reader into the adventure.  It fires the imagination, makes you smile, keeps you on the edge of your seat.  Makes you forget, at least for now, that arthritic knee or the check that bounced or the fact that your flight is delayed yet again.  These are all good things, reward enough in themselves.

Was I trying to deliver a message?  Probably several, but I didn’t have a specific agenda.  Writing AMANDA’S EYES was my way of exploring issues like good vs. evil and the cost of doing the right thing through someone else’s eyes (no pun intended).  I tried to follow where her reasoning led.

I aimed for thought-provoking, rather than preachy.  What I believe isn’t the point.  The point is you knowing what you believe and why you believe it.  In the best of all possible worlds, every individual would work out the big questions for him- or herself.  Problem is, not many of us even bother to ask those questions.  If I had to say, I guess I’d say I hoped to start that internal conversation.
Q: Although set in the future, your reviewers frequently mention that AMANDA’S EYES is a mystery thriller, suggesting cross-genres. How do you create suspense to make it a thriller?

Kathy DiSanto: Several ways, one of which was constantly introducing new elements of tension.  First you’re waiting for A.J.’s memory to return, then you’re wondering if the Ferrymen will come after her, then you run into her gift (which even she has trouble believing), then her attempts to convince others she has this gift, etc.  The tension is heightened and sustained by her flat refusal to back off coupled with her determination to force a confrontation with an apparently unstoppable group of killers. 

I’m also partial to cliff-hanger chapter endings. 

Q: What makes a good villain? Is the concept of villain vs hero relevant to AMANDA’S EYES?

Kathy DiSanto: I’ve heard it said that a good villain is one you can empathize with, at least on some level.  Maybe.  The villain in AMANDA’S EYES obviously does quite a bit of good with his sham philanthropy.  We can also sympathize with the ill-born mechanic Tanya Sidorov … up to a point.

If the concept of villain vs. hero is relevant to this novel, I would say its relevance lies in the fact that we all have it in us to be either … or both.  The mystery is why we choose the roles we do.  Do we choose?  Or are villainy and/or heroics determined by our circumstances?

Q: What’s next? Will you write another A.J. Gregson thriller?

Kathy DiSanto: That’s the plan!  As a matter of fact, the next novel is already in the works.  (And folks who sign up for my e-mail list can get an exclusive preview!)  I think I have at least two more A.J. Gregson novels in me.

I’ve also got a few short stories in mind.

After that … who knows?

Q: Tell us about Kathy DiSanto? What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Kathy DiSanto: Well, when I’m not busy with my day job as a communications specialist, I’m listening to music (my sons are both musicians), while walking my rescue dogs, Molly and Lucy.  Or I’m reading.  (I devour books, so if anyone knows of any good authors, drop me a line.)  I blog about writing and indie publishing.  I also like to put a few rounds down range every now and then. 

Recently, I’ve been getting my retirement ducks in a row.  I’ve never been able to write full time, but come next April, that will change!  Can’t tell you how I look forward to making stuff up, all day, every day!
About Kathy DiSanto

Kathy’s publishing career dates back to 1997, when she published two romances with Bantam’s Loveswept line.  One of them, For Love or Money, won a 1997 Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award.
In 2012, Kathy self-published two futuristic thrillers. AMANDA’S EYES is a near-future paranormal thriller and the first novel in a series featuring crime reporter A.J. Gregson. WHY LIVE? is stand-alone dystopian science-fiction.
Thanks to her day job as a communications specialist with a major university, Kathy has written more than two hundred features for print and the web.
She is a member of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, the Alliance of Independent Authors, the Independent Author Network, the Independent Author Index, the Indie Writers’ Network, World Literary Cafe, and the International Association of Business Communicators.

Waking up is the pits when you come to in a hospital with a broken arm, a colorful assortment of abrasions and contusions, and a face swathed in bandages. It’s even worse if you can’t remember what hit you.

The bad and the ugly are crime reporter Amanda “A.J.” Gregson’s business. But learning she had a ringside seat for an explosion that killed two agents of the Continental Intelligence and Investigative Service (CIIS), incinerated an entire block of warehouses, and did so much damage to her eyes they had to be surgically removed? Well, that gives the darker side of life a whole new meaning.

Haunted by elusive nightmares, A.J. waits for her transplant and struggles to remember the events leading up to the fateful night of September 4, 2075. Weeks crawl by without a glimmer, before memory floods back the night before surgery, every brutal detail crystal clear.

The explosion had been the work of the Ferrymen.

"The Ferrymen. My not-so-magnificent obsession for more than a year. Only a cataclysm could have made me forget. I guess you could call them hitmen. You could also call Einstein a math whiz. Think ruthless. Think unstoppable. Think killers so proficient 'caught the ferry' was fast replacing 'bought the farm' in common usage, and you have the Ferrymen in a nutshell."

The transplant surgery goes off without a hitch—welcome news, because A.J. is raring for a rematch with Hell's Boatmen. But contrary to popular belief, what you see isn't always what you get. Take her new eyes, for example. Those baby blues may look perfectly normal, but they possess a power that turns her world upside down—the power to see into the hidden dimensions of the human heart.

When the Sight unmasks the mastermind behind the Ferrymen, the unveiling is as stunning as it is unbelievable. The revelation sets her on course for a second head-collision with evil. Will she survive the final encounter?


September 2075

In the beginning, it was pitch black.

And there was pain.  But distant, like a memory.  Or a threat, prowling the far reaches of the darkness.

Weightless.  Suspended in the void.  No up, no down.  Nowhere.

Beyond the blackness, time passed.  Snatches of sound began to drift in.  Patchy.  Disconnected.  A rhythmic, pneumatic sigh.  Hollow beep.  Voices murmuring words without context.

“Count … three …. ”

“Family  …. outside ….”

“Lucky ….”

” …. dead …. ”

A warm touch, tenderly reaching through the darkness.  A whisper.  Close, very close.

“… going to be all right  … fine … listen … mother now.”

Listen to your mother now.

Hours crept by.  Mental synapses sputtered dimly to life as the brain began to reboot.  Thought sparked, flickered, died.  Cut in again.  Shorted out.  Coalesced laboriously, one syllable at a time.

The memory came together in fits and starts—a kaleidoscope of disjointed fragments and gaping holes, arranging, then rearranging, until the pieces finally fell into place.  At long last, a scene unspooled against the blackness, like a movie in a darkened theater.
• • •
“A police reporter, Amanda Joy?”  She shook her head, giving her blue eyes that where-did-I-go-wrong roll that still managed to make me feel like I was a scabby kneed five-year-old tracking mud across the marble floor.  “Call me an optimistic old woman, but I was hoping you would choose a more … well, a more dignified profession”

“Come on, Mom.  Nobody would call you old.”

Don’t change the subject.”  But she was pleased.  I could tell by the slight smile and the way she lightly touched her glossy black chignon as she glanced around the crowded restaurant.

Lunch at the extremely pricey Henri’s was Mom’s idea, billed as a girls-only celebration of my brand-new college degree.  If I had been in my right mind, I would have shut my trap and gone along for the eats and used Dad as a buffer.  Told him and let him tell her.  Less flack for me that way.  But under the influence of that post-commencement high and further intoxicated by raspberry grilled salmon, basmati rice, and steamed vegetables, telling Mom about my new job seemed like a good idea.  Now I was in for it.

“We were discussing your poor choice in career tracks,” she reminded me.

“I’ve wanted to be a reporter since I was sixteen.  You know that.”

“Yes,” she said, deliberately studying her flawless manicure.  The violet nail polish matched her off-the-shoulder silk blouse.  A delicate bracelet—diamonds strung like tiny, winking stars—glittered when she flexed her wrist.  Her eyes lifted again.  “But I had deluded myself into thinking that was a phase.  I hoped you might grow out of it.”

“Before or after I got my degree in journalism?”


"To be, or not to be, the woman I was engineered to be?" is the question third-generation clone Kai-Lee Fox can't help asking herself. For more than 400 years, the star cruiser Janus has been a Utopia of sweetness and light. Life goes on and on and on for the Quingenti, five hundred souls who fled Earth when the Global Assembly refused to legalize immortality by human cloning. Who knew six words as apparently harmless as, "There was only one Ella Fitzgerald," could trigger a rebellion? But those words no sooner leave Kai's mouth when the light goes on and the trouble begins. Before long the truth that rocks her world makes itself known to a handful of others, and at least one of them doesn't have the sense to keep quiet. 

When Dr. Ke-Ling Yan, the Colony's lead geneticist and a member of the ruling Council, announces his intention to move for the abolition of cloning, the mild-mannered Quingenti reveal their dark side. How far will they go to contain the rebellion?  As far as the Alpha Genesis Option.  The AG microchip, implanted in every colonist's brain at birth, is the excruciatingly painful fail-safe designed to wipe the mental hard drive and prepare it for reprogramming. But before the mind police can make their move, Ke-Ling does the unthinkable--he commits suicide.  His farewell ship-wide broadcast takes containment off the table for good, and life aboard the Janus degenerates into an interstellar witch hunt. Will Kai-Lee and her friends survive the inquisition? Where do you run when you're on a space ship millions of miles from nowhere, and the hounds are closing in?
Twitter address:  @Kathy_DiSanto

Monday, November 11, 2013

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Thriller Author Alan Wanderer, MD

Dr. Alan Wanderer, Author
Dr. Alan Wanderer brings us ANAPHYLAXIS, A MEDICAL THRILLER described by a reviewer as “one of the most riveting tales of intrigue, love, hate, and revenge with so many twists and turns, one can't see it all coming until the very end.”  Dr. Wanderer believes that creating suspense is “a real art form” and wrote ANAPHYLAXIS as a thriller with “medical validation.”

Dr. Wanderer spent 40 years practicing medicine primarily specializing in allergy, asthma and clinical immunology. Although currently medical director of a clinical research drug study center, he has channeled his creative efforts into writing -- supported by his wife and family including four children and six grandchildren. He enjoys fly fishing, scuba diving, and playing with his two dogs, Max and Ruby.

Q: Reviewers of ANAPHYLAXIS, A MEDICAL THRILLER praise it as a “scary book” about the “chilling underside of medicine.” They claim they neglected chores and their loved ones to finish your book, which offered unexpected twists and turns up to the very end. How do you build such suspense?

Alan Wanderer: I believe creating suspense is a real art form. There are many great examples such as the opening scene of Grisham’s ‘A TIME TO KILL’ when an innocent black child is viciously raped by two rednecks. I wanted the opening scene to have significant suspense after speaking with a past owner of a book store who told me that browsers take only a few minutes when deciding to purchase a book. Based on that observation, I decided to begin the story with an immediate chilling anaphylactic event that would catch the attention of browsers, especially the segment affected by allergy, i.e. 20% of the overall population. Once I had the reader’s attention it allowed me to add new suspense with twists and turns.

Q: Your reviewers tout your realism and attention to accuracy --“very valid medical and scientific mystery.” How important is accuracy to believability? How helpful is it to building suspense?

Alan Wanderer:  As a physician and medical scientist, I decided to write a fictional story with medical validation. I wanted readers to experience a situation based on true knowledge and experience, not unlike the action movie that dealt with the sea rescue of Captain Phillips.  In part, I believe validation added magnitude to the suspense within the story. Accuracy also reduces challenges by peers and by others in the medical profession and they in turn may express support for its accurate depictions. It is a win-win for the readers, the reviewers and for me as the author.

Q: You have a career as a successful physician. What caused you to write a novel? Where did your interest in writing originate?

Alan Wanderer: I should start by saying that I have mostly written peer reviewed scientific articles. Going from that more rigid writing style to fiction was a struggle, especially starting in my late 60s’. I hoped I might have some untapped creativity since I had helped design medical devices and successfully solved some medical enigmas. I first started learning to play the violin at 64, but after three years as a member of a children’s orchestra and an obvious aged outlier, I shifted my attention to writing a novel.

The idea for the story developed over a dinner conversation when a friend told me about the mysterious disappearance of a researcher who had made a breakthrough discovery that could inactivate an illicit drug. That gave me the idea for the story in which a researcher, who had discovered an effective vaccine to reduce cocaine addiction, dies from an anaphylactic event.

Q: One reviewer likes your “fascinating characters.” What makes your characters “fascinating?” How do you engage your readers to care about your characters?

Alan Wanderer: I learned this through writing over fifty iterations of my story and working with an experienced independent editor, several family members and friends. I thought the names of the characters had to be somewhat unique to help me with their portrayal. One reviewer thought they were interesting, uncommon names and helped him remember the characters within the story. For example, I named the psychiatrist David Sabatha. I visualized him as being a very erudite physician who would enjoy spending a day, the Sabbath, reading and resting. The protagonist’s name came from the German ‘haber’ which is the infinitive for the verb ‘to have.’ His name became Haberman, a man who ‘has’ professional pride, moral strength and sensitivity and someone who could solve problems with analytical skill. Mostly, I didn’t follow known literary rules for character development because I considered it to be part of an author’s creative process. In a sense it is a process that is unique to each author as a self-identifying descriptor.

Q: Are you a believer in heroes and villains? How do you define a villain? A hero?

Alan Wanderer:  I loved this question because it made me think of immunity to metaphorically describe the villainous characters in my novel. We are born with innate immune mechanisms that allow our bodies to react against microbial invaders the first time we interact with them. If we didn’t have these built in immune responses at birth, the human species would never have survived. As we age, our bodies develop what is called adaptive immunity, the ability to build up defenses over time against previously recognized invaders. Now you may wonder why I am using this metaphor.  We all have the innate ability to unequivocally recognize villainous people, like a Charles Manson or Osama bin Laden. Where we have difficulty is with villains that are sociopathic, who on first interaction seem kindly and who we accept as friends until we realize who they really are. In a sense they are like HIV viruses that are not detected by our immune defenses as dangerous. Hence I created villains that we all recognize as dangerous, and then sociopathic villains that we cannot easily detect until it is too late.

Recognizing a hero becomes easier when you can identify with someone like Haberman who has clearly defined good character and purpose.

Q:  Did you write ANAPHYLAXIS to entertain your readers? Or did you also want to educate? Deliver a message?

Alan Wanderer:  What I really wanted to do was to entertain with a plot that would cause suspense and mystery. However intertwined in it was a sub-theme to increase awareness of the described condition, and for the uninitiated to learn more about it. Many people don’t know the meaning of anaphylaxis nor even how to pronounce it, so there was clear intent on my part to make it an educational thriller. In fact the largest advocacy group (AANMA) for people affected by this and related conditions, has endorsed the book to its membership and related blogging groups. I am pleased to see that occur as a side benefit of the story. 

Q: In your opinion, what key parts of a story make it great?

Alan Wanderer: In reality that will be determined by the readers. However, if I was to modestly identify the best parts, I would probably describe the suspense around the anaphylactic event both in terms of the suffering it caused and the attempt to reverse it. I also wanted the suspense around the deposition to be one that analytically dissected the event to allow the reader to identify with a doctor who tried his very best but nevertheless was still exposed to serious medical liability. By doing that I wanted the reader to sympathize with the protagonist but also understand that physicians are human and can make mistakes. Physicians admitting their mistakes is a good thing; however it becomes a path to major frustration and financial ruin for honest and caring physicians when persons file frivolous lawsuits. In the story you will see I believe there is a need for tort reform to control this trend.

Q: Did you outline your story or did your characters just take you along for the ride?

Alan Wanderer:  I did outline the story at first.  However there were junctions where the story needed a new twist or a way for it to evolve more logically. At times I withdrew a character or added one to make the story more credible. Hence the outline just helped with developing the overall theme, but like an architect’s first drawing may outline a house, details are added to make the house functional and enjoyable. The same is true with the storyline; the added details occurred as I wrote the story to make the suspense build. I do admit the beginning and ending were unchanged from the start as I wanted them to have suspense that would add power to the story.

Q:  What’s next? Will you be writing more medical thrillers?

Alan Wanderer: I do have a storyline that I am outlining, but I am not at the point to start writing it.  Recently I read about an author, Peter S Fisher, who at seventy-eight, is writing murder mysteries with his independent publishing company.  He had been a co-creator of Columbo, a series I enjoyed many years ago. His example has reignited my engine to continue writing another mystery within the medical genre. 

Q:  Tell us about Alan Wanderer. What do you like to do when you’re not writing or treating patients?

Alan Wanderer: I spent forty years practicing medicine mostly as a specialist in allergy, asthma and clinical immunology. I truly enjoyed patient care and making scientific discoveries that provided therapy for certain disorders that now permit afflicted individuals to have almost normal lives. That was part of my past creative process that has now shifted into writing. In the beginning of the novel, an older patient thanks Dr. Haberman for a diagnosis that led to an extension of his life. The patient then mentions it will allow him to play with the band. He was referring to a metaphor he mentioned to Dr. Haberman.  “We are all on the top deck of the Titanic. You can look over the side and watch the rising waterline or go play with the band.”  Like that patient, I have chosen to play with the band.  I can do that because of a supportive loving wife and interacting with my four children and six grandchildren, along with fly fishing in Montana, scuba diving on occasion and playing with my two dogs, Max and Ruby.

About Alan Wanderer

Alan Wanderer received his M.D. from Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, and trained in internal medicine and pediatrics at Bellevue Hospital and Cornell Medical Center. Dr. Wanderer completed a fellowship in allergy, asthma and immunology at National Jewish Hospital-Health and is certified by the American Board of Allergy & Immunology. He has practiced in Denver Colorado and Bozeman Montana where he lives with his family. Other activities include clinical scientific research in inherited inflammatory disorders, asthma, cold hypersensitivity syndromes with anaphylaxis, sickle cell disease and transplant organ viability. Currently he is medical director of a clinical research drug study center in Bozeman. A detailed CV is available on the center's website and at He spends his recreational time with his family, his dogs Max and Ruby and fly fishing. ANAPHYLAXIS, A MEDICAL THRILLER is his first novel.

Dr. Frank Stevens, the lead scientist at COADD, a biotech company, has discovered an effective vaccine for cocaine addiction. He suffers a catastrophic anaphylactic event in the office of his allergist, Dr. Leonard Haberman, leading to a contentious malpractice lawsuit fanned by Dr. Stevens’ brother-in-law, a politically ambitious Colorado Senator. Concerns arise when it’s discovered that the manufacturing specifications for the vaccine and COADD’s head technician are missing. CBI Agent Ben Locke connects these events with a cold case; the death of a scientist who had made an important discovery involving a different street drug. Forensic evidence exposes a nefarious plot leading to the grand jury indictment of the missing technician suspected of mob connections, and several persons of interest who hated Stevens.  As the fast paced plot unfolds, Haberman makes a shattering discovery, placing him and his family in imminent life-threatening danger.