Today on The Back Deck Blog, fellow OTP author, Janet (J.L.) Greger joins us to talk about herself and her newest novel, "Malignancy", the latest in her Sara Almquist series. Pull up a chair, grab a cup of coffee or tea, and let's see what Janet's up to these days!
Tell us about your self and your latest book.
I love to travel to slightly exotic places. In 2013, I went to Cuba. My tour guide was determined for our group to see Cuba as more than a place to see vintage U.S. cars. I figured many of her comments were carefully rehearsed propaganda. However, one of her claims caught my attention. She said Cuban researchers had patented a drug for cancer.
When I got home, I investigated her claim. Researchers at the Center of Molecular Immunology in Havana patented a therapeutic cancer vaccine to treat a rare type of lung cancer. That got me thinking. The result is MALIGNANCY.
Realistically the U.S. government might send (in the near future) scientists to Cuba to explore the possibility of creating government-sponsored exchanges between the two countries. (Several non-government-sponsored scientific exchanges already exist. Scientific exchanges were one of the early steps in the normalization of our relationship with China in the 1970s.) I thought Sara Almquist, the epidemiologist and heroine of my previous medical thrillers Coming Flu and Ignore the Pain would be the perfect protagonist to do a little “scientific diplomacy” in Cuba.
Here’s a blurb on MALIGNANCY. Men disguised as police officers shoot at Sara Almquist twice in one day. The real police suspect Jim Mazzone, a drug czar who Sara has tangled with several times, will order more hits on Sara. Thus when colleagues in the State Department invite Sara to arrange scientific exchanges between the U.S. and Cuba, she jumps at the chance to get out of town and to see the mysterious Xave Zack, who rescued her in Bolivia again. Maybe, she should question their motives.
This thriller has lots of action, descriptions of modern scenes in Cuba, bits of science, and something no other thriller has – a middle-aged woman heroine.
Malignancy is available at Amazon http://amzn.com/1610091779 and Oak Tree Press: firstname.lastname@example.org
When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?
About the time I was granted tenure as a professor in the biological sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I realized there were some “truths” I wanted to tell that could never be published in a scientific journal.
What steps did you take to learn the art of novel writing?
I read all types of novels voraciously.
Who are your favorite authors and how did they influence you?
John Grisham because he treats the legal system with respect but shows some of its darker secrets, sort of like I wanted to do about universities. J.K. Rowling because of her fantastic imagination.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
I like to travel. The scenes in Bolivia (Ignore the Pain) and in Cuba (Malignancy) are as I saw them, but I “revved up” the action. For example: while I wandered across the roof of St. Francis Church in La Paz, Bolivia, Sara is chased across the roof by drug dealers.
I love to spend time with my Japanese Chin, Bug. We do pet therapy together at hospitals in Albuquerque. The Bug in my novels is closely based on the real Bug. He’s even cuter than the picture suggests.
You can learn about me at my website: www.jlgreger.com, at JL Greger’s Bugs: http://jlgregerblog.blogspot.com,
What are you working on next?
I’m finishing an anthology of short stories tentatively titled, “Other People’s Mothers.” Every story has a seed of real experience in it. Many of the stories show the humorous side family life. Several of these tales are about child abuse, generally not physical but psychological. Americans like to think child abuse didn’t occur in “nice homes” in small towns during the last half of the twentieth century, but then we don’t all agree on what constitutes normal parenting techniques.
Thanks for joining us, Janet, and congratulations on the new book. Catch you in Tucson in the spring for the Festival of Books!