What books/authors have influenced you and why?
I remember reading David Copperfield by Charles Dickens in seventh grade and even at that young age being transfixed by the prowess of his stylistic prose and masterful dialect, not to mention the quirky oddness of many of his characters. Uriah Heep still gives me the creeps. I went on to become a voracious and eclectic reader, and in subsequent decades read additional classics, Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, countless novels by Robert Ludlum, John Irving, John Grisham, Harlan Coben, Michael Crichton, Stephen King, Dean Koontz (he put my last name in his book ‘Midnight’), J.K. Rowling, Lee Child, Stieg Larsson, James Patterson, George R.R. Martin’s entire Song of Ice and Fire series, Anthony Doerr, and others. I found myself drawn to well-portrayed, engaging characters embroiled in suspenseful, accelerating story lines – exactly the style of writing I continually strive to master in my novels.
How do you develop your plot and characters?
I’m impacted daily by diverse sources of intellectual, sensory, and visual input through news, medical/scientific journals, fiction, biographies, history, music, movies, and visual media. All of this feeds my overactive imagination and unquenchable curiosity of the human condition immersed in and responding to the exponential explosion of scientific, medical and technological advances. “What if?” is the central driving engine in the swirling vortex of my creative mind. The characters and stories emerge with a fierce presence and unbridled demand to unfold. I do my best to craft the adventure. And get out of the way.
What has been a fascinating writing research experience for you? Does a memory stick with you?
A fascinating writing research experience for me in creating my recently completed suspense thriller, VIRAL DREAMS, is my deep dive into the science and technical attributes of genome editing breakthroughs, specifically CRISPR-cas9. In my day job I work in Oncology Medical Affairs in the remarkable field of immuno-oncology, where in the past four years my company and several others have launched truly breakthrough therapies to help patients in the battle against multiple types of cancer. We have finally discovered the ability to re-enlist the power of the immune system in the battle against cancer. Easily the greatest advancement in the treatment of cancer in the last 50 years. The pace of advances in scientific discovery, medical knowledge, and effective therapeutic interventions is staggeringly breathtaking, and CRISPR-cas9 is the stuff of science fiction. We literally now have the capability of precision gene editing by removing, adding, or altering single genes or sections of the DNA sequence. This proffers enormous potential as a tool to treat a wide range of both horrific and commonplace medical conditions that have a genetic component. Conversely, the potential specter of violating medical and human ethics in unthinkable ways is equally enormous.
What does literary success look like to you?
For me, literary success is writing and successfully publishing a substantial number of uniquely captivating and startlingly gripping suspense novels with irresistible story lines and fully-fledged characters the reader either loves or hates, but cannot dismiss. If readers complain that my books grabbed them by the throat and wouldn’t let go, kept them up way past their bedtimes, and echoed in the aftermath of the reading’s completion, then I have succeeded completely.