Saturday, September 29, 2012

#AuthorInterview Dr. John DeBoer

Introduction: John L. DeBoer, M.D. Is a graduate of the University of Vermont College of Medicine. He did his surgical training in the U.S. Army and then spent three years in the Medical Corps as a general surgeon. After thirty years of private practice, he retired and now lives in southeastern North Carolina.

Q: So, John, how does a surgeon end up being a novelist?

A: Looking back, I see four influences that ultimately led to my late-start writing career: my parents, a hard-nosed English teacher, an essay contest, and, weird as it seems, Christmas letters. My quite literate parents, both published authors in non-fiction, critiqued my writing efforts for school assignments. I had an English teacher as a freshman in high school who drilled the rules of grammar into me and gave me an appreciation of what makes for good literature. As a senior, I won a school-wide essay contest. But by then, I'd already decided on a medical career, and I took only the bare minimum college English courses to meet the med school admission requirement. After that, my career did not allow the focus or the time for writing. I did have papers published in surgical journals, but they had to follow strict formatting guidelines, and, of course, they couldn't be fiction! But I had the opportunity for creativity in my annual Christmas letters. Some of the recipients of those – friends and family, mind you – said I should write a book. So I started one. The unfinished manuscript then sat in my closet for years while my day job occupied me. When I retired, I finished it.

Q: You're the first author I've met who said Christmas letters inspired you to write. So you went from Christmas letters to completing a novel. What happened next?

A: I soon found out that writing a book is the easy part. Getting it published is something else entirely. I, of course, thought my novel was great. I sent the manuscript to scores of agents and was amazed at the rejections. And only about half of my queries ever got a response. I finally got disenchanted with the “system” and self-published State of Mind in 2009. But I had the bug now, so I wrote another novel, Get the Picture? Much better than than the first, I thought. Bound to attract interest in the publishing world. Again, the rejections came back. I self-published that one in 2010. But I didn't give up. My third novel, The Side Effect, was picked up by Whiskey Creek Press and was published this year.

Q: Congratulations! What is the novel about?

A: A German anthropologist working in New Guinea in the 1930s discovers a plant with amazing properties. Eighty years later, two pharmaceutical companies are competing to bring a miracle drug developed from that plant to market. One of these firms was founded in Switzerland by a scientist involved in the medical experiments of Nazi Germany. The other is an American company that hopes to expand. And then, too late, a possible deadly side effect of the drug is discovered. While the American company investigates, the Swiss one tries to prevent the truth from coming out. This battle, involving wealthy European businessmen, a white-supremacist militia group in this country, and a determined American physician, is the crux of the plot.

Q: Sounds like an intriguing medical thriller. Are all your novels in the same genre?

A: Thrillers are what I most like to read. Nelson DeMille and Michael Connolly are two of my favorite authors. So that is what I like to write. Following the axiom of 'write what you know,' all my protagonists are physicians. But The Side Effect is my only medical thriller per se, to date. And it's the only one with international scope. Growing up in New Jersey and Vermont, and now living in North Carolina, my stories mostly involve those locales.

Q: Yay, I like that the protagonists are people you know well. What else have you been working on?

A: I've completed two novels since The Side Effect. One, The Flame, is a femme fatale-type of story in the vein of Body Heat. The other is a sequel to my two self-published novels, featuring the inimitable Jack Lansing. M.D. - The Sincerest Form of Flattery. Publication dates for these novels have not been finalized. Meanwhile, I'm working on a manuscript which tells the story of four high school football teammates who, decades later, must deal with the consequences of a tragic event involving them as teenagers.

Jack Lansing, M.D. sounds as touch as Jack Reacher. that femme fatale story sounds interesting too. You'll have to come back some time and talk about them. It seems you are also dipping into coming of age book too. It was nice meeting you and I hope to see you again.

Thank you, Rachelle. You are providing an important service for your readers, and I appreciate the opportunity to discuss the writing/publishing process and to highlight my books.

Readers can find out more about Dr. DeBoer at  Dr. John DeBoer's Author Page

The Side Effect is Available at
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