Thursday, October 11, 2012

THE NEXT BIG THING – a chain letter with set questions

I’ve spent so much time advertising my medical thriller Coming Flu (Oak Tree Press published it in July 2012.) lately that I’ve not thought much about my book now in review. This is a great chance to dream and hope it’s the next big thing.

What is the working title of your book?
I like the title Death of a Diet Doctor; a reading group preferred Murder: A New Way to Lose Weight. Which title would catch their eye more in the bookstore? Let me know in comments to this blog.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
First off, I wanted to write a sequel to Coming Flu, but feature Linda Almquist, the younger, more contemplative and nervous sister of Sara Almquist (the lead character in Coming Flu).

Second, I wanted my second novel to also have a science theme – but not one involving infectious diseases, as my first novel had. I particularly wanted a medical syndrome with a New Mexico tie-in, if possible. Obesity and the related health problems are common in New Mexico. But I wanted something quirkier to add to the mix. As I was searching through journal articles, I came across one that had been published by medical researchers from New Mexico in the New England Journal of Medicine. I’m not going to tell you more or I’ll give away too many secrets in the plot.

What genre does your book fall under?
Death of a Diet Doctor is a mystery set in a medical school. Coming Flu was a medical thriller.

The differences in the two books reflect the lead characters – two sisters. The feistier sister Sara Almquist, a supposedly retired epidemiologist, is the lead in Coming Flu. Linda Almquist, a physician and a newly appointed associate dean in a medical school, is the lead character in Death of A Diet Doctor. Both are in both books.

As I wrote I viewed the sisters as the “Odd Couple of Modern Women.” Sara is the messy Oscar Madison (the Jack Klugman character in the TV show The Odd Couple). Linda is the proper, neatnik Felix Unger (the Tony Randall character).

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Frances McDormand has the toughness and Midwest background that would make her a perfect Sara Almquist. However, a younger version of Shirley MacLaine might be an interesting version of Sara. Besides MacLaine lives near Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Jodie Foster is a perfectionist, has an intellectual bent, and is petite. She would make a perfect Linda Almquist.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
As Linda Almquist investigates scientific fraud by medical researchers, she uncovers simmering feuds among faculty members, long hidden secrets, and two dead bodies – and they’re not patients.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Oak Tree Press published Coming Flu and hopefully will publish Death of a Diet Doctor.  

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Researching and writing the first draft took one year.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
My books are similar to Patricia Cornwell’s mystery series, featuring pathologist Kay Scarpetta, but I show more of the Almquists’ personal lives and quirks. Kathy Reichs’s mystery series, featuring medical anthropologist Tempe Brennan (also of the TV show Bones) is also comparable. But my books include more science tidbits that are relevant to readers’ lives.

Who inspired you to write this book?
My students. I taught nutrition and toxicology for thirty years at Purdue University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Students generally found metabolic pathways dull and hard to remember, until I mentioned health problems caused by aberrations in the pathways. The students taught me to show not tell them about science.

Thank you.

JL Greger