Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Author Interview: Richard Brawer

Photobucket Yesterday, I posted my review on a solid medical thriller, Beyond Guilty. Today, I'm happy to say that the author, Richard Brawer, was willing to do a little Q&A with GJR.

GJR: Why did you decide to write the book from an African-American point of view?

RB: “Beyond Guilty” was inspired by a screen play written by my daughter. In her script, the protagonist is an African-American male wrongly convicted of murder and sentenced to death. Despite her being a lawyer in the movie industry and the screen play winning a number of awards including $1000.00 from a “Writer’s Digest” contest she was not able to generate interest from her associates in Hollywood. I said to her, “Let me write it as a book with an African-American female protagonist as there are many African-American actresses looking for a meaty, leading role.” Thus “Beyond Guilty” was born.

However, in the process the book took on a life of its own and dramatically deviated from the screen play. The only parts that remained the same were that the lead character was wrongly convicted of murder and sentenced to death; and she escapes death row and fights to prove her innocence. There is no island in her screenplay, and all the fighting, chases, and the ending are entirely different from the screenplay.

GJR: Were you interested in nanomedicine before you wrote the book, or was it something that seems to fit in with the plot of your book as you were flushing it out?

RB: The only thing I knew about nanomedicine before I researched it was from an article I read in a magazine. I like to incorporate something educational in my books. In my mysteries it is historical vignettes about the Jersey Shore. In “Beyond Guilty” it’s nanomedicine. In my daughter’s screenplay, after her character escaped he had to salvage his DNA to prove his innocence. Seemed like old news to me. So I thought, why not go cutting edge?

Having no medical experience, I researched nanomedicine on the web. But did I portray it correctly? Did I write it so a layperson could understand it?

To answer the first question, I started sending e-mails to the authors of the articles I read. One scientist, Robert A. Freitas Jr. J.D., Senior Research Fellow for the Institute for Molecular Manufacturing, was kind enough to edit my references to nanomedicine and has written an essay at the end of the novel explaining how far this research has come and when it will be available.

I’ll let you answer the second question.

GJR: Do you see your story as a Darwinian survival of the fittest?

RB: Not really. I see it as a good thriller.

GJR: Besides, Eileen who was your favorite character to write? Why?

RB: Colonel Springer. I had to create a truly bad guy, but I wanted him to have one redeeming characteristic. I don’t want to spoil any part of the story so I’ll let the readers find out what that one saving attribute is.

GJR: Have you always wanted to be a writer?

RB: After graduating the University of Florida and a stint in the National Guard, I spent 35 years working in the textile industry. I lived at the New Jersey shore and commuted an hour and ten minutes to New York City by train. To fill the time I read the newspaper in the morning and books on the ride home.

Always having a vivid imagination, I would occasionally come across a newspaper article that really hit me and would wonder what would happen if―?
Then one day I read a horrendous article in the newspaper about a father in Boston whose child was born with brain damage and he refused to take him home from the hospital. He thought he could return the child like a damaged piece of merchandise he bought in a store. (Interesting that this coincides with the child recently returned to Russia.) The nurses were outraged and their disgust was quoted in the article. That’s when my imagination took over and I asked myself, “What if the child was misdiagnosed?”

With mysteries being my favorite genre to read I took that thought and began making notes. The notes turned into paragraphs and the paragraphs into chapters. Thus in 1994 my first Murder at the Jersey Shore mystery, “The Nurse Wore Black” was born, and I was hooked on writing.

GJR: Your other book, Silk Legacy, is a historical fiction novel; what made you change to the thriller/medical thriller genre?

RB: As you can see by my answer to the above question it was the other way around. I started writing mysteries. But I also liked to read historical fiction.

I was born in Paterson, New Jersey, America’s first industrial city and the home of the silk industry in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. I mentioned I worked in the textile industry. That’s because my family had been in that business since my grandfather started a silk company in 1904. I wanted to instill in my daughters their heritage so I started interviewing the family in depth and researching Paterson. The stories were so fascinating I thought they could make a wonderful novel. The result was “Silk Legacy” which is only very loosely based on the stories I heard. As you can see from my website it has received fabulous reviews.

GJR: Are you working on a new novel? If so, can you tell us the premise?

RB: I am working on “The Bishop Committee”. Here is what I am thinking might be the book jacket. The book is set in the year 2002 just after 9/11.

…In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist…Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Farewell address to the nation, January 17, 1961

In the 1990s, with the demise of the Cold War and no one vowing to annihilate the United States, Congress guts the defense budget to fund special interest causes. Obsessed with the idea that a weak military threatens the existence of their country, The Bishop Committee, a Vietnam era military-industrial cabal resurrects itself to sell weapons to terrorists to create a new enemy for the United States to battle.

Jason Sorren, head council for Rathborn United Industries uncovers evidence that will expose the conspirators and is relentlessly pursued to retrieve it. When his traditionalist Quaker girlfriend is drawn into the battle and kills to save Jason, her life is thrown into turmoil.

Jason’s quests to expose the conspirators and rescue his girlfriend from despair make The Bishop Committee a page turning thriller.

The educational part is about modern day Quakers. What do you really know about today’s Quakers? Are there Orthodox, Traditionalists and Reformed as in other religions?

You can read the first chapter of “The Bishop Committee” on my website, www.silklegacy.com Click the “In development” tab on the left of the home page.

GJR: Who are your favorite authors to read? Why?

RB: I like mysteries, thrillers and historical fiction. Harlan Coben, James Paterson, Clive Cussler, Jeffrey Archer, John Jakes, Howard Fast, James Lee Burke, Tim Dorsey, Carl Hiaasen, Ed McBain, Tony Hillerman, Edward Wright, Michael Connelly, David Baldacci. (I could go on and on. I like to read a lot of different authors.)

GJR: What are you currently reading?
The Machiavelli Covenant by Allan Folsom. A conspiracy novel.

GJR: What author’s have influenced you?

RB: The two authors that got me hooked on mysteries and historical fiction were, Brett Halliday’s Mike Shayne mysteries. Being short, quick reads they were great for the commute. And a fabulous historical fiction novel set post Civil War, Sow Not In Anger by Jack Hoffenberg 1966.

I'd like to thank Mr. Brawer for taking his time to answer our questions. Stayed tuned later today for a giveaway of his historical fiction novel, Silk Legacy.



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