Thursday, October 31, 2013

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: British Author Chrissie Parker

Chrissie Parker, Author

British Author Chrissie Parker just published INTEGRATE, which she describes as suspense/thriller/paranormal.  She chose the genre in order to write "something challenging."
 She adds a "dark air of mystery" by setting it in a non-descript town that could be anywhere. She created a protagonist that "at times you just want to hug her."

Parker is married to an actor, and they live together in London with their two cats, who are named after goddesses (which any cat will inform you is quite appropriate.) She enjoys history, particularly ancient history, and archeology, and she has several books underway set in ancient Egypt and Greece.

Don’t miss her brief excerpt from INTEGRATE following the interview.

Q: How would you characterize your new book, INTEGRATE. Mystery? Paranormal? Why did you write in this genre?

Chrissie Parker: INTEGRATE has elements of Suspense/Thriller/Paranormal in it.  I chose the genre as I wanted to write something challenging, and the plot and characters allowed me to do that.

Q: What influenced you to write INTEGRATE?

Chrissie Parker: INTEGRATE was written in the 1990’s and actually started life as a screenplay.  I trained as a Production Assistant (in Media), and I had always wanted to write a film script, something that was slightly dark, about a murder but with paranormal elements, which is where the tarot and premonitions come in.  It never got made into a film, instead it got packed away in a box in the attic, which is where I re-discovered it a few years ago.  After re-reading it, I decided to re-write it into a book.

Q: Why will readers care about your protagonist? How do you develop her to engage your readers?

Chrissie Parker: Hopefully for the reasons I do.  Corinne has had a really tough life.  In her early twenties her parents died suddenly and she suffered terribly from their loss, never really getting over it.  Corinne has a twin sister Helena, who she has always felt responsible for, so when Helena is murdered, Corinne is left completely alone, struggling with terrible grief and the hurt of losing her sister in such a terrible way.  She has to learn to get up each day and carry on despite the heavy burden she carries and it’s a hard thing for her to have to do.  At times you just feel like you want to hug her!

Q: What makes an effective villain? Does INTEGRATE have a villain?

Chrissie Parker: I think an effective villain is someone who puts their own needs above others with a fair amount of control.  Someone who is reckless and has no boundaries. Someone who conducts their life with no concern for others, the law or how their actions may affect others.  INTEGRATE’s villain is Jack, but not in the conventional way.  He unintentionally becomes the villain by his own selfish and thoughtless actions.  Instead of doing the right thing, he chooses self-preservation above everything else. 

Q: Did you write INTEGRATE to deliver a message to readers – or primarily to entertain?

Chrissie Parker: I wrote it primarily to entertain, but there are elements of messages in the book.  I guess if I had to highlight them, I would definitely say don’t drink and drive!  Also that family and close relationships are very important, always let people know you are there for them and that you love them.  Honesty is always the best policy, even if it may not feel like it at the time. 

Q: How relevant is setting to telling your story?

Chrissie Parker: The setting is very non-descript in INTEGRATE.  Despite describing the town a little, I deliberately chose not to name it.  I wanted it to have an air of mystery.  It could be any town anywhere.  It could be English, it could be American.  I liked writing the story this way, it helped give a slightly dark air of mystery to parts of the story.

Q: What’s next? Will you be writing more books like INTEGRATE?

Chrissie Parker: I am in the process of writing some full-length novels, but they will be a little different from INTEGRATE.  My passion is ancient history and archaeology and I love travelling.
‘Wind Across the Nile’ is a historical suspense set in Egypt. It has just come back from structural editing.
‘Among the Olive Groves’ is a World War II suspense set in Zakynthos, Greece. I have almost finished the first draft.
‘Secrets beneath the Sands’ is an archaeological thriller/suspense set in Petra in Jordan.  I have finished the full draft.

I also have plot outlines for a sequel to ‘Wind across the Nile’, as well as another 2 historical suspense stories set in the UK and Italy.

Q:  Whew! You’re really busy.  Tell us about Chrissie Parker. What do you like to do when you’re not writing—if you have any spare time?

Chrissie Parker: I am married to an actor, and live in London (UK), and we have two cats that are named after Roman Goddesses.  I’m a history and archaeology geek, I have completed a 6 month Egyptology course and a 6 month Archaeology course with Exeter University (and hope to try and do another one next year!).  I love collecting and reading history books and watching documentaries about ancient history too. 

I am also a petrol head, I love motor racing, especially Formula 1, and I have been to many races in the past.  I enjoy reading and collecting books and have far too many!  I have also been trying (unsuccessfully) to learn to play the 5-string Banjo for just over two years; it’s not going very well, but I’m still trying!
About Chrissie Parker

Chrissie lives in London with her husband and is a freelance Production Coordinator working in the TV, documentary and film industry.  She is also an Author.  INTEGRATE, a suspense Novella, is her first release.  She is currently working on two suspense books due for release in 2014.  One is set in Egypt and the other on the Greek Island of Zakynthos.

Chrissie is passionate about History, Archaeology and travel, and has completed Archaeology and Egyptology courses with Exeter University.  She also likes to read, collect books and listen to music.

To find out more about Chrissie visit her website


A battered and broken body lays in the road. A discovery that leaves the local community gripped with fear. Suspicion as to who killed the woman is rife.

Corinne’s peaceful life is shattered by the tragic death, forcing her to struggle daily with overwhelming grief and loss.

A chance meeting with a stranger helps Corinne through the hurt and pain, but can she really trust Jack?

Twin sisters Corinne and Helena have always been close, growing up in the same small town.  Corinne lives alone in the house that used to belong to their parents and Helena lives with her husband and love of her life, Jimmy, and their two children.

Helena loves life, she enjoys spending time with her friends and relishes being a wife and mother.  Corinne lives in isolation, unable to get over the death of their parents.  She relies on the spiritual world, reading tarot cards, surrounding herself with crystals and candles.  She also has to deal with unwanted premonitions that strike when she least expects them. 

During a tarot reading Corinne predicts Helena’s death, and is distraught when she learns that Helena has been murdered.  The grief and sudden loss of her twin sister overwhelms Corinne and she struggles to live day to day.  At Helena’s funeral Corinne falls out with her brother in law and is left feeling alone and unloved.

At her lowest ebb Corinne becomes friends with Jack, a stranger in town, but the grief remains and whenever she is around Jack, she gets a vision; one that takes her back to the horrifying scene of Helena’s death.   Unable to stop them, Corinne realises the visions may be her only chance of finally understanding what happened to her sister and why.  But will it be the answer she is looking for?


A screech of tyres stirred Helena from her thoughts and she saw a car swerving wildly in the road, narrowly missing a frightened fox.  She breathed with relief as the animal safely scuttled into a garden. 

Suddenly, reality hit her.  The vehicle was close.  Far too close.  It was heading straight for her at a speed that was excessively fast.  Her brain urged her to run but it was already too late.  The vehicle was too quick.

Helena stared at the driver in bewilderment, as everything became slow motion.  He wasn’t even looking at the road, then, at the last moment, he lifted his head and his shocked and scared eyes locked with hers.

Twitter - @Chrissie_author

Monday, October 28, 2013

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Author Cate Beauman

Cate Beauman, Author
Author Cate Beauman recently released the fifth stand-alone novel, WAITING FOR WREN, in her series The Bodyguards of L.A. County.  Reviewers applaud it: “great storyline, believable characters, murder and love.” They point to the suspense “which was spine tingling and quite the roller coaster ride” and suggest  “if you like a little romance with your mystery” you will like WAITING FOR WREN. Beauman says that the concept for the series "just sort of happened" because the "ideas just kept coming."

To help develop her characters, Beauman assigns music to them. She shares the tunes she uses in "The Unofficial WAITING FOR WREN Soundtrack" following her interview.

Prior to becoming an author, Beauman worked for 12 years in special education. Today she lives with her husband, two boys, and their St. Bernard, Bear, in Tennessee.

Don’t miss the excerpt at the end of the list of music.  

Q: Can you explain the theme of The Bodyguards of L.A. County in your series of books? How did you conceive of this concept?

Cate Beauman: The Bodyguards of L.A. County is fairly unique in that it is technically a series but each novel can be read as a standalone. Each story chronicles a different Close Protection Agent from Ethan Cooke Security. I’m happy to say that characters from previous novels continue to share their lives with readers as each book unfolds, but you don’t have to read book one to understand what is going on in book four. Each novel is concluded with a satisfying ending so fans can get ready to fall in love with the next hero and heroine.

The Bodyguards of L.A. County just sort of happened. Morgan’s Hunter (Book One) was supposed to share the harrowing backcountry adventures of sassy D.C. socialite Morgan Taylor and her no-nonsense bodyguard Hunter Phillips, but then I introduced Ethan Cooke and Sarah Johnson to the pages and new they needed their own book. Again, Ethan and Sarah were supposed to wrap up the twosome titles, then Austin Casey and Hailey Roberts wanted their turn. Ideas just kept coming. Forever Alexa  (Book Four) was next, and we’ve just launched Waiting For Wren (Book Five). I’m feverishly working on Justice For Abby (Book Six) now. I have ideas for at least three more novels after that! I imagine I’ll come up with even more. 

Q: Your reviewers are really engaged with your characters. How do you create characters that your readers care for so deeply? Are you a proponent of villains and heroes?

Cate Beauman:  I love that my readers love The Bodyguards of L.A. County crew. I think my audience cares for the characters I create because I work very hard to make them come alive. By the time I’ve hit second draft mode, my heroes, heroines, and villains are very real in my mind. They are no longer characters among the pages of a book, but actual people with endearing traits, faults and flaws many of us can identify with. There are no perfect people among the pages of my novels, just characters that are very much like you and me.

I’m a sucker for good versus evil. I’m a huge fan of the good guys finding a way to win, but that doesn’t mean the winning comes easy. The villains I create are disgusting, vile creatures. They are the lowest of the low in an incredibly sick package. It’s hard to cheer for every human being’s worst nightmare. 

Q: Do you try to deliver a message in your novels? Or are you primarily interested in entertaining your readers? 

Cate Beauman: For the most part, I love creating stories for pure entertainment. Sometimes reality bites, so it’s nice to sit back for an afternoon and get lost in someone else’s story. Some of the plots focus around true and troubling real life issues such as Hailey’s brush with the Mexican Drug Cartel or Alexa and Abby’s encounter with human sex traffickers. Life imitates art and vice versa. I try to weave fiction and pieces of truth together to create engaging novels that will have my readers coming back again and again.

About Cate Beauman

Cate currently lives in Tennessee with her husband, their two boys, and St. Bernard, Bear. She is the author of the best selling romantic suspense series, The Bodyguards of L.A. County.  Before her career as an author, Cate worked in special education for 12 years.

“I’m a pretty lucky girl; one day I woke up and my entire life changed. I saw the light, so to speak, and decided I was going to be a writer. Now, two years later, I’m working on my sixth novel and I’m an Amazon best selling author.  I’m very grateful for the support and success I have had.  - Cate “

Cate Beauman’s newest release is available now through Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  Visit for more information and to read excerpts from her best selling series The Bodyguards of L.A. County.

When the past and present collide…

Wren Cooke has everything she’s ever wanted—a thriving career as one of LA’s top interior designers and a home she loves. Business trips, mockups, and her demanding clientele keep her busy, almost too busy to notice Ethan Cooke Security’s gorgeous Close Protection Agent, Tucker Campbell.

Jaded by love and relationships in general, Wren wants nothing to do with the hazel-eyed stunner and his heart-stopping grins, but Tucker is always in her way. When Wren suddenly finds herself bombarded by a mysterious man’s unwanted affections, she’s forced to turn to Tucker for help.

As Wren’s case turns from disturbing to deadly, Tucker whisks her away to his mountain home in Utah. Haunted by memories and long-ago tragedies, Tucker soon realizes his past and Wren’s present are colliding. With a killer on the loose and time running out, Tucker must discover a madman’s motives before Wren becomes his next victim.

The Unofficial WAITING FOR WREN Soundtrack

As I have discussed with previous book launches, music plays a huge part in my writing process. I typically listen to Pandora or YouTube and compile a collection of songs that I feel represent my characters or the situations they face as the novel unfolds.  Here are a few of the songs that I had on “repeat” while I created Tucker and Wren’s story! 

The soundtrack, of sorts, for WAITING FOR WREN:

·      Gone, Gone, Gone by Phillip Phillips
·      Lego House by Ed Sheeran
·      Wanted by Hunter Hayes
·      What Would Happen If We Kissed by Meredith Brooks
·      Trying Not to Love You by Nickelback
·      Beneath Your Beautiful by Labrinth Ft. Emeli Sande
·      I Hate How Much I Love You by Rhianna Ft. NeYo
·      Be Still by The Fray
·      All Along by Remedy Drive
·      Clarity by Zedd
·      Mirrors by Justin Timberlake
·      To Build A Home by Cinematic Orchestra

Read an excerpt from WAITING FOR WREN:

She pulled in her drive, dropped her phone, and gripped the wheel with trembling hands as heat from the vents rushed over her. She stared at her darkened front steps in the shadows cast about from the neighbors’ tall trees. What if he was here? His texts weren’t threatening, and technically neither were the flowers, but Rex wasn’t healthy. In the two years she’d owned her home, she’d never been terrified to get out of her car and go inside like she was now.
This is what he wants. He wants you to be afraid while he plays his games. Steeling herself, she grabbed her phone and got out with her key fob clutched in her unsteady hand. The cool rush of wind tossed her hair in her face, and she swiped wavy locks behind her ear as she strained to hear over the rustling leaves. She walked quickly, her eyes darting everywhere.
She just had to get to the door and step inside. The panic button was in the entryway if she needed it. The police would come help her, along with whoever was fielding calls at Ethan’s company tonight. “I’m almost there. I’m almost there,” she whispered, flinching, blinking, startled as the sensor lights flashed on to brighten the walkway. The security lights. It was just the security lights. She forgot she reactivated the feature the night of the gala. She took another step forward and saw the blood by the pretty pot of red mums. “Oh my god. Oh my god.” A black cat lay on her step, decapitated and bloated in a pool of dark, congealed crimson. “Oh my…”
Her breath rushed in and out as she stumbled back. The cellphone in her clammy hand rang, and she screamed. Blindly, she pressed “talk.” “Hell—hello?”
“Do you like it?” someone whispered.
She whirled, scanning, searching for Rex. He was here, somewhere. He had to be.
“Why won’t you call me?” The whisper turned into a pathetic whine. “Why won’t you call me, Wren?”
“Stop,” she shuddered out as she hurried to her car, looking over her shoulder from time to time, sure he was waiting to pounce. “Stop doing this. I’m calling the police.”
The whining stopped abruptly and turned into mad, riotous laughter. “They won’t believe you! They won’t believe you!”
“Leave me alone!” She hung up, gasping for air. Tears poured down her cheeks, and her hand shook as she opened her door, took her seat, and locked herself in. She had to get out of here. She had to get away. It took her two tries to shove the key in the ignition as she glanced at the bloodstained step once more and backed out with a squeal of tires. She sped off, heading toward Ethan’s until she remembered he was gone and a quarter of his house had been gutted for the new edition. All of them were gone—Ethan, Hunter, and Austin. She pressed ‘one’ on her speed dial, listening to the repetitive ringing. Ethan’s smooth voice told her to leave a message, but she hung up instead. She turned down another street, taking her farther from her home, and punched in Ethan Cooke Security’s twenty-four hour assistance line.
“Ethan Cooke Security. This is Mia.”
“Mia, it’s Wren.”
“Wren, are you okay?”
“Yes.” Her voice broke, and she shook her head as she clutched the wheel with one hand. “No. No, I’m not. There’s a dead cat on my porch.”
That didn’t exactly describe the horror she’d just backed away from. “Someone killed a cat and left it on my front step.”
“Oh my god. Where are you?”
“In my car.” She sniffed. “Driving around. I don’t want to go back to my house alone.”
“Of course not. Let me patch you through to Tucker Campbell. He’s on call.”
Tucker? “No, wait—” But it was too late. Soothing music played in her ear.
“Wren?” Tucker’s deep voice hummed with concern.
Her lip wobbled, and tears began to fall again. “Yeah, I’m here.”
“What’s going on? Mia said something about a dead cat?”
“Someone chopped some sweet cat’s head off and put the body on my front step.”
He muttered a swear. “Are you there now?”
“No, I’m in my car, driving around. It freaked me out. I don’t want to be at the house by myself.”
“I don’t want you there either. Come to my place until we get this figured out.”
If choking fingers of terror didn’t have her by the throat, she would’ve refused, but Tucker was offering his help. She needed help. “I don’t—I don’t know where you live.”
“Ocean View Apartments, off Highway One.”
“What if he follows me? He might be following me right now.” She glanced in the rearview mirror and cringed as headlights trailed behind her.
“Who the hell is Rex?”
“The crazy bastard who left the dead cat on my porch.”
“Son of a bitch, Cooke. Don’t stop. Don’t’ pull over. Drive on a flat tire if you have to. Just get here. I’ll be waiting outside.”
“Okay,” she sniffed, too afraid to be prideful. “I’m about ten minutes away.”

Did you enjoy the excerpt?  You can read the first three chapters on her website,

Contact Cate

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

CHECK IT OUT: Coming soon! FOR ALWAYS by Janae Mitchell

“For Always” Coming November 2013…

* Book #1 in the For Always Series *

Malyn Reed meets, and quickly falls in love with, Beau Brogan, who seems to be perfect in every way…

Except for the fact that he died in 1910…

Malyn Reed has been able to see spirits her entire life. Now that she’s almost seventeen, she has learned to differentiate between the living and the dead, making her gift feel less like an evil curse. She ignores the spirits she encounters on a daily basis, which has made living side by side with them slightly easier…until she moves to Dandridge, the second oldest town in Tennessee.

Beau Brogan was a hard working country boy from Dandridge, Tennessee who loved his family and stole the hearts of many southern belles. But all of that came to a tragic halt at the age of nineteen when his life came to an untimely end. For the past hundred years, his spirit has been entombed in a ghostly life of loneliness and misery that he wishes would just end…until the Reeds move in.


Janae has been a writer since she was old enough to hold a pencil. Her genre of choice was poetry and short stories—until now. After falling in love with so many books over the past decade, she decided that she wanted to write a novel of her own and bring life to the characters that haunt her mind. It wasn't until 2012 that she pursued that passion and started on her first YA novel. 115,000 words later, For Always was born.

Having grown up in an historical Dandridge home that was used as slave quarters during the Civil War, she experienced several things that couldn't be explained. Due to these events, she sought out and joined an investigative team called Eyewitness Paranormal. Her interest in ghosts and the unexplained, combined with her love for telling a story, made writing the For Always series inevitable.

Janae was born and raised in East Tennessee, where she currently resides with her husband, two children, and their hairless dog, Slick. In her spare time, she likes to read, play tennis, and spend time with her family on the lake. 

Connect with Janae: 

Monday, October 21, 2013

CHECK IT OUT: Character Jillian Hillcrest Introduces Cover of New Mystery FAIR DISCLOSURE

Character Jillian Hillcrest solves mysteries written by yours truly, Joyce T. Strand. When she’s not sleuthing, publicist Jillian promotes her company.  She joins us today to introduce the cover of the newest Jillian Hillcrest mystery called FAIR DISCLOSURE, scheduled for launch Nov. 7, 2013.

Yay! I’m so excited. I’ve waited so long to bring you my next mystery.  But first, check out this cover.

Awesome, right?

As with previous Jillian Hillcrest mysteries, I encounter murder “most fowl” in FAIR DISCLOSURE.

Chad—my ex-husband—and I are enjoying a play at a local community theater when a scream interrupts the production.  We are told that they discovered a bludgeoned volunteer backstage right in the middle of the play.

It turns out that I had interviewed the victim for a job at my company. I thereby get involved in another crime-solving adventure—drawn ever deeper by a second murder, an irate investor, the participation of law enforcement amateurs, an increasingly unreliable assistant, and suspicious trading of my company’s stock. 

Meanwhile, Chad keeps pressuring me to say “yes” to a second marriage. (He is so cute with his hats, but I really don’t want to spoil our close relationship by getting married again!)

FAIR DISCLOSURE concentrates on my role with investors, and how the rules of fair disclosure— to disseminate information to all investors at the same time—frequently are violated by greedy and shady investors.  We drew on real cases of unfair disclosure as a backdrop. 

You won’t want to miss this one. Watch for it! If you doubt me, you can

Publication date for FAIR DISCLOSURE:  November 7, 2013

Watch for Blog tour and giveaway beginning Nov. 2

CHECK IT OUT: Book Tour THE WITCH'S SALVATION by Francesca Pelaccia

A witch who demands humanity.

The immortal families who denied her of it.

Two mortals commanded to right the wrong.

That is the fate of the urban princess Anasztasia and the renegade prince Matthias, born shockingly mortal to two immortal families. If they go back in time and restore the witch’s humanity, she will grant them immortality. She will also break a 550 year-old curse that imprisons Matthias’s family in their ancestral homeland and exiles Anasztasia’s family from it.

But to make their lives their own, the heirs must return to the most dangerous day in their families’ past, Easter Sunday, 1457. This is the day Vlad III, aka Dracula, massacred all nobles and their families involved in the death of his father and older brother.

How can Anasztasia and Matthias reverse the past when their families will not speak of their wrongs? How can they refuse when the witch owns their lives?

The Witch’s Salvation is a time-travel fantasy weaved around myth, historical fact, and a whole lot of creative license.

Buy the book from.....

Francesca Cesario Pelaccia grew up in Toronto, Canada, and went to the University of Toronto, where she studied English literature. She started her working career moving in and out of teaching and corporate editing and publishing before settling on teaching adults English as a Second Language. 

The Witch’s Salvation is Francesca’s first published novel. She has many other manuscripts in various stages of completion and genres gathering dust on her bookshelves. But it was not until The Witch’s Salvation that she “found her voice”. Francesca lives just outside Toronto with her family. She is working on the second book of the Witch’s trilogy, entitled, The Witch’s Monastery.

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Thursday, October 10, 2013

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Author Louis Kirby, MD

Louis Kirby, Author
Author Louis Kirby, MD, has written SHADOW OF EDEN, a medical thriller described by a reviewer as “a rat-a-tat triangulated tale of medical murder, corporate greed, political complexity, and international intrigue woven seamlessly around Dr. Steve James—an everyday-kind-of-guy.” I confess: that review got to me, and I am looking forward to meeting Dr. Steve James. 

As a physician, Kirby specialized in the research and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases. He also has co-founded a company, Zetta Science. On the personal side, he spends time with his wife and daughter and hikes as often as possible including twice a year at the Grand Canyon.

Don’t miss the excerpt at the end of his interview – a falling Boeing 747 with no pilot can really get a book off to a fast start!

Q: Reviewer after reviewer praises your “heart thumping” action scenes in your medical thriller SHADOW OF EDEN. How do you create such suspense?

Louis Kirby: I think generating suspense involves a creative interaction between both the reader and writer. As a writer, I respect the reader’s intellect. They can figure things out which gives me the freedom to move the story ahead at a rapid pace, dropping clues and bits of information as I go. I also must create characters that the reader believes and cares about; only then will a tense situation really engage the reader.

If I have succeeded thus far, then I create situations that are credible and populate them with real threats. This can be a dangerous killer sniffing a trail or a political impasse with lives at stake. I also build the basis for the conflict ahead of time so they are anticipated and savored. Lastly, I let the reader believe that anyone is expendable in some fashion. There is no free Get Out of Jail card for any of the characters. Since it is not a series, even the main character is in real peril.

In addition, the antagonists must also be palpably real. They have frustrations, setbacks, challenges, and triumphs like any of us, yet they pose real threats and risks for the protagonists. And I let the reader see these aspects of the antagonists. I believe knowing them at an intimate level makes their actions believable and, consequently, manifestly threatening. So when the action starts, and there is quite a lot sprinkled throughout the book, the reader is fully along for the ride.

Lastly, there is the craft. How do you pace the build up? How do you drop hints as to what is to come? How do you stage the encounter? And can you write in such a way that the writing does not get in the way of the action?

Q: Your reviewers cite your ability to realistically combine your knowledge of medicine as an MD with fast-paced action. How relevant is credibility to creating a thriller? What kind of research did you conduct for SHADOW OF EDEN to make it a plausible story?

Louis Kirby: It comes back to respect of the reader. I have an opportunity to teach some very interesting science and medicine but do it in a way that serves the story and intrigues the reader. Accuracy is key. I want my readers looking up things I drop into the story to confirm that what they just read is actually true. And they are.

In the thriller genre I can’t just pawn off some half-baked science that is disconnected from the reader’s knowledge and experience. That would be science fiction or fantasy and my readers would instantly smell it and move on. My advantage is my scientific and medical expertise and I know what is scientifically and medically real. The art is how to push the boundaries in a way that serves the story while staying true to the science. I had a number of experts review the book to comment on its accuracy. Some scientists actually got ideas from my manuscript that they subsequently began to test in the laboratory.

Yet I don’t let the science take over the narrative. I wove it in so the needed information was doled out naturally and gradually. I don’t want anyone falling asleep during a science lecture!

The non-medical research was both challenging and fascinating. For example, I talked my way into the cockpit of a 747 flying over the Atlantic Ocean. Another time I spent a day with the former navy top gun pilot, aircraft carrier captain and fleet admiral asking him questions and soaking up the answers. Of course I read copiously and had more subject matter experts read the manuscript to ensure accuracy.

Q: Why do readers accept your character Dr. Steve James, an “everyday-kind-of-guy,” as a plausible hero in a world of intrigue? 

Louis Kirby: I am a bit tired reading about these super-trained, super macho, best in their class, special forces bad ass guys who are ex-FBI/CIA/Black ops/Delta Force clones who you expect will prevail in any encounter with another baddie. Where’s interest in that? I certainly cannot relate on a personal level. My interest is in the ordinary guy faced with extraordinary circumstances. Don’t we all wonder how we’d react when confronted with a threat to our family or our lives?

So Dr. James is a guy who likes to mountain bike and teach his kid how to make paper airplanes. Fighting off well-conceived attacks on him and his family is the farthest thing on his mind. Yet confront it he must.

But I don’t turn him into a superhero. He knows when to get help and off he goes to find his ally: a damaged goods private investigator gone to flab who is not sure he wants to take the case. Can they prevail against a hit team that is well financed and trained? That’s an open question.

Q:  Your reviewers compare you to some of my favorite authors, such as, David Baldacci, Michael Crichton, John Grisham.  I’m curious. Do you read authors such as these? Did they influence your writing? How would you compare SHADOW OF EDEN to their writing?

Louis Kirby: Alas, I am afraid I must disappoint here. I can reel off a list of the name brand writers who I have enjoyed but few who actually influenced my writing. Three exceptions and I’m very clear about what they did to influence me. The best writing lessons I learned were from Syd Field’s Screenplay. (Confession: SHADOW OF EDEN was first written as a movie. The screenplay still sits on my shelf waiting for that call from Hollywood).  He taught me the three-act approach to story telling; how to make the story visual, important in novels as well as screenplays; and brevity: get into a scene late and exit early. And it worked for me. SHADOW OF EDEN has interwoven narratives and it would soon become weighted down by excessive detail without the quick-in and quick-out approach.

James Patterson, the second author who influenced me and it was by his example of brevity as described by Sid Field. His technique of quick, short chapters is one I adopted in SHADOW OF EDEN.

The third is Michael Crichton. While I have reservations about his actual writing ability, he did know how to tell a tale with a lot of science built in and get the audience on board.

Q: I’m almost afraid to ask given the topic of SHADOW OF EDEN as a medical thriller involving the world of medicine and our government, but how or where did you conceive of the plot?

Louis Kirby: Like anything else, it was a kernel of an idea that, in a short week, blossomed into a full fledged plot. As a neurologist, I had been doing medical research in Alzheimer’s disease when I realized that most people had little or no understanding of the drug research and development process. The just magically showed up on the pharmacy shelves. The fact that we are able to take a unique molecule and safely introduce it to the body to achieve a measurable benefit is nothing short of amazing. Yet the process can be subverted. It is difficult and it is risky but with the billons of dollars at stake, it is also very tempting. It is a theme that I tell in SHADOW OF EDEN but attempt to make it almost a natural progression from that first questionable ethical lapse to the situation they find themselves in by the time the book starts.

From there, it was a tsunami of “What if…?” questions: What would be the worst side effect you could get (it’s a baddie and worse, it is very real). Who would you most like NOT to get the side effect…but does. And so forth. Then it was a matter of making the characters very real and their motivations very believable plus doing the research to give every aspect the authenticity it deserves. 

Q:  OK, I have to ask. What made you – a successful neurologist – decide to write a medical thriller?

Louis Kirby: It was a story that had to be told. I have inside information of several drug recalls. When one in particular was announced, we were still doing research on it. I had to call each of my study participants and tell them that the drug was being recalled. On one of those phone calls, I spoke to the wife. Her husband, who had been enrolled in the study, had died the previous week of precisely the condition that triggered the recall. There is real danger in drugs, in sloppy science and in pushing the limits of what is safe.

While I know some of the individuals involved in the decision making process, and they are thoughtful, decent people, the safety aspect nevertheless is abstract, reduced to an exercise trying to genuinely balance out the benefit of a drug against its potential to do harm. How difficult indeed is it to make these decisions! Now let’s add money into the mix and the decision becomes harder still.

SHADOW OF EDEN, in my mind is in some ways my story, told from the front lines of someone that has looked at the dangers at eye level, held the hands of those affected by real side effects yet one who has also seen the amazing good that can be achieved by a new and beneficial drug. I felt the real life consequences of ethical lapses could form the nucleus of a story that could be interesting, entertaining and informative at the same time. Didn’t Michael Crichton spend much of his career calling out the consequences of unchecked scientific hubris?

Q:   Having worked in the biotech industry as a publicist for nearly 15 years, I am curious if you wrote SHADOW OF EDEN to deliver a message? Or were you mostly interested in entertaining your readers?

Louis Kirby: Clearly, there is a message but the message merely irritates if it is preachy or didactic. The drug aspect is only a part of the story not the story. I wrote a book that I would want to read. It is full of action, mystery, science, good people facing high stakes and insurmountable odds yet there are laugh out loud parts. I like a good story and I wanted to write a good story. So I’ll be more than satisfied if I entertain. I’ll be ecstatic if you think about the book days after you turn the last page.

Q:  How do you define a villain? Are villains relevant in SHADOW OF EDEN?

Louis Kirby: Villains drive much of the story. I’ve tried to create really memorable villains, ones you can really hate, but because they are good at what they do, you have to respect them as well. The good guys are flawed and make mistakes as do the bad guys. They come complete with their back stories and understandable motivations. They get mad when things don’t go their way while impressing us with their cunning.

I’ve read enough thrillers to be impatient with cardboard baddies. Somehow being bad is a profession and there is a never ending host of them pouring out of Hell’s gates to rub their hands in cackling glee as they plot their next nefarious deed. Worse, without any explanation, they suddenly show up at the motel where our heroes are holed up. In SHADOW OF EDEN, you’ll know (although maybe not immediately) why and how. The pieces are all picked up or enough clues dropped so you can figure things out. 

Q:  What’s next?

Louis Kirby: I’m researching the next book. I may come back to Steve James later, but this next book is about a scientific expedition to find the biblical Tree of Life. Teaser: A recently translated Sumerian tablet gives credence to an earlier Garden of Eden tradition than the Genesis tale, one that describes harvesting an elixir from the trees of life and selling it to kings of the various lands so they might live for hundreds of years. Look at the ages of the descendents of Adam who all lived over 700 years until Noah, possibly about the time the supply of the elixir gave out.

The tablet also describes the one source of this elixir in the world destroyed by a vengeful god, lost forever in the sudden flood caused by worshiping the god of another tribe. But hidden on this tablet are clues as to where these trees grew and how a dedicated scientific team could find the genetic material of this tree to once again create an elixir of life.

Of course it is not so easy, but you’ll need to read the book to find out. (hint, they actually find it).

Q:  Tell us about Dr. Louis Kirby. What do you like to do other than write or work? – assuming you have any spare time, that is!

Louis Kirby: In my professional life, I am starting a company to accelerate the pace of scientific innovation. You can read about it on If it works it may be a catalyst for finding the answers to some of the big health and life science issues. I still consult on interesting drugs with biotech companies, some of whom have very promising leads targeting some very intractable neurologic conditions. Basically, I’m still an idealist wanting to do the next big thing. I really get to see a part the future as it unfolds.

In my personal life, I spend as much time as possible with my wife and daughter (who will leave for college in just over 2 years). She is learning how to drive so I’m also doing driver’s ed. duties. I hike the Grand Canyon twice a year, which is a great motivator to keep me in some sort of reasonable shape.

About Louis Kirby
Louis Kirby specialized in research and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases and served as principal investigator on nearly 400 human clinical trials. He frequently spoke at national and international conferences on drug development and consulted on Alzheimer’s research for the government and the pharmaceutical industry. Throughout his life he has always been drawn to writing and has two other books in process. While in medical school he published several stories, one landing him in hot water with the Dean of Medicine. Louis lives, hikes and bikes in sunny Arizona.

Chillingly plausible and terrifying. You’ll never take another pill without thinking of SHADOW OF EDEN. Peter Glassman MD, author of THE HELIOS RAIN.

Eden, the miraculous new weight loss drug, rips through a society intoxicated by the allure of attainable physical perfection. It is at once more ubiquitous than Tylenol and more fabled than Viagra . . . yet it harbors a deadly secret, putting millions at risk. Faced with the puzzle of a crazed airline pilot and a young woman with horrifying delusions, Dr. Steve James discovers Eden’s fatal flaw and suddenly finds himself, and his family, in the crosshairs of a determined assassin.

In Washington, D.C., bewildered White House staffers and Cabinet members scramble to cover up President Dixon’s alarmingly erratic behavior while managing an escalating confrontation with China. Dr. James, running from the relentless contract killer, realizes he alone may know what is wrong with the President—with less than twenty-four hours before war begins with China.

Beginning with a terrifying dive in a 747, through state of the art medical sleuthing, and high stakes political brinksmanship and calculating corporate treachery, SHADOW OF EDEN takes the reader on a non-stop, rollercoaster of intrigue, murder, corruption and sabotage.

Excerpt from SHADOW OF EDEN by Louis Kirby

The announcement awoke Steve James with a start. Irritated, he opened his eyes and saw an agitated male flight attendant standing at the front of the compartment. Gradually, he processed the words. He staggered to his feet and approached the flight attendant.
“I’m a doctor—a neurologist, if that makes a difference.”
“Perfect. Follow me.”
Steve followed him into the dim cockpit. His eyes swiftly took in the condition of the two men. Jesus. Steve bent over the copilot. He found a strong carotid pulse and saw that the man’s breathing was normal. Steve’s fingers explored the bloody scalp and found two lacerations, but no skull depression.
He glanced at Oliveros. “I think he’ll be okay.” He then turned to the pilot. “Sir, how are you?”
The pilot looked at him through bloodshot eyes. “I thought I killed him. A goddamn flashback. Is he going to be . . . Marvin. Thank God.”
A medium-built man in a pilot’s uniform had joined them.
“What the hell happened?”
“Captain Verness—” Oliveros began.
“Never mind.” Verness snapped. “Ralph, it’s time to get out of here.” He pulled Steve towards the copilot. “Look after him.”
Palmer’s right arm started shaking and his gaze turned glassy. To Steve, he looked like an actively hallucinating schizophrenic.
“I’m hit. Fire! Fire!” Palmer yelled. He reached up and yanked all four fire extinguisher levers.
“No!” Verness grabbed at Palmer’s hands but too late. The engines shut down. Lights flickered and alarms filled the cockpit. The plane’s abrupt slowing flung Verness into the center throttle console, slamming him into switches and knobs, including the overhead intercom button.
“Help me out here!” Verness shouted, as he righted himself and grabbed Palmer from behind. Oliveros sprang to help. Steve hurriedly moved out of the way and leaned over the copilot’s seat.
Palmer thrashed and punched as they pulled him out of his seat. “You can’t take me again, you bastards!” He kicked like a madman, knocking the control yoke forward. The floor of the cockpit plunged like an elevator with a snapped cable. Everyone flew upwards. Palmer, Oliveros, and Verness slammed their heads against the ceiling. Steve, bent over McElroy, smashed his back into the knob-laden ceiling, the metal switches puncturing and lacerating Steve’s back with knife-like agony. 
Gasping with the sudden pain, Steve twisted to dislodge the bits of metal from his back but the centrifugal forces of the diving jetliner still held him against the ceiling. And despite his pain, a single thought pierced through Steve’s mind. Who was flying the plane?
Below him, he saw the empty seat where the pilot should be and, right underneath him, the still unconscious co-pilot. His gaze swept out the windshield and down past a break in the clouds. The distant lights were drawing closer with each moment. With horror, he suddenly understood. There was no one flying the plane. He twisted around, remembering the others. The other men floated in a tangle against the ceiling next to him.
“Hey!” He grabbed the arm of the nearest man, the new pilot called Verness, and shook him. The arm was limp. As he looked closer, Steve realized the pilot was out cold. He looked at the others. They were all unconscious—or dead.


Twitter: @lou7is (the 7 is silent)