© 2013 Clive Eaton
James J. Murray has years of experience in both pharmaceutical manufacturing and clinical patient management. Medications and their impact on a patient’s quality of life is his expertise, but his secret passion for murder and mayhem is a whole other matter. An obsession with reading murder mysteries and thrillers left him longing to weave such tales of his own. Drawing on his past clinical expertise as a pharmacist and an infatuation with the lethal effects of drugs, James creates novels of Murder, Mayhem and Medicine that will have you looking over your shoulder and suspicious of anything in your medicine cabinet.
Book title: Lethal Medicine
Jon Masters is a clinical pharmacist. He and his wife Gwen own a chain of specialty pharmacies, but under that successful business veneer Jon is a psychological mess. Jon’s life implodes when he discovers that the investigational drug study he is managing is a sham. Evidence found at a murder scene implicates him in an elaborate scheme to distribute a cheap, yet pharmaceutical quality, street drug cleverly disguised as the experimental drug. The indictments mount and Jon fights back by rekindling his Special Forces past. With the help of a trusted friend, Ed Ochoa, Jon returns to the world of covert ops and cyber intelligence as he embarks on a quest through China and Mexico to prove his innocence. Racing against time before his life shuts down, Jon struggles to regain control as he uncovers a complex international conspiracy to redefine the nation’s recreational drug culture.
What do you do to relax when you are not writing?
I spend way too much time on social media rather than writing, but have now gotten that down to about an hour or so a day. I like to read, watch TV and my wife and I love to go dancing. We’re expert ballroom dancers.
What, or who, inspired you to become a writer?
I like to stay busy and want to share something special with others. After selling my pharmacy practice, I had no such outlet for that need. For many years, I had a secret desire to write novels but never had the time to indulge that dream. Now I have the time and freedom to do so. It’s the ultimate fun job.
What or who inspired you to write your current novel?
Being an avid murder mystery and thriller reader for many years, I would often turn to my wife and say, “What would happen if…?” One day a few years ago, while waiting for a flight to travel to some distant land for a vacation, I turned to my wife and asked her that very question and we began discussing a plot and then added some characters to the equation. By the time we boarded the flight, I had given the characters names and my wife suggested that I write a story outline. That outline turned into this first novel and I’ve been writing ever since.
Tell us three interesting facts about your book which are not covered in the synopsis.
1) This first book has evolved into a trilogy for my main character. The second in the series is finished and being edited at this time. Before publishing this first book, however, I want to start the third book so that each will be published within a reasonable time of the previous one.
2) There are some interesting descriptions of science (both pharmaceutical and computer) in the novel, and I’ve struggled to keep it interesting without being too technical. I think I was successful.
3) The book gives an interesting perspective of modern life in China.
What research did you need to do for this book?
The pharmaceutical science was easy since that is my profession, but I struggled with the computer technology and sought advice on that. I also did lots of research into modern China—even travelling there for a first-hand perspective.
Are any elements/characters of your book based on real life experiences or people you’ve met/known?
My protagonist, Jon Masters, is a clinical pharmacist like I was before retirement, so his professional life came from that experience. But Jon is much more flawed than I am with a dark past and some interesting Special Forces experience that gives him the talents needed to tackle the obstacles he needs to overcome to get his life back.
Tell us a little about your current work-in-progress.
The book is called State of Illusion and it’s the second of the trilogy in the life of Jon Masters. He’s thrust once again into the middle of chaos when his friend (and mentor) is murdered and his widow asks Jon to help find the killer. This leads Jon on a dangerous quest through India to unravel the complexities of secondary drug wholesalers, where anything and everything can be distributed for the right price. He uncovers illicit reverse pharmaceutical engineering and foreign patent infringements that threaten to flood the nation’s drug delivery system with cheap counterfeit drugs.
What process did you adopt from inception through to the finished book?
I did an outline of the major chapters and that evolved into major scenes to propel the story forward to its conclusion. Then I was able to fill in the remaining chapters as I fleshed out the first draft. To develop my main characters, I use a 3-P process. I write out a page outline on each character to define their physical, psychological and philosophical characteristics before I ever use them in a scene.
What do you need (or not need) around you whilst writing?
Complete silence, so I can immerse myself into the world I’m writing about.
What prompted you to self-publish your current book?
My first book won’t be published until early next year, but I chose to self-publish because I wanted to control my character’s development. Since I envisioned a trilogy of books to get my protagonist from one point in his life to another, I wanted to control that process. A major publisher most likely would not allow me that control.
What were the three biggest challenges you faced when writing your book?
1) Learning the ART of writing. I wrote the equivalent of two other novels before I felt that my writing was good enough for publication. Those other two novels will never see the light of day, but they taught me how to develop characters, write realistic dialogue and to achieve good story flow.
2) Finding the time to write. I could write all day every day, but life gets in the way even for someone retired from another profession, like myself. Besides, my wife tells me I need balance in my life.
3) Setting up a quiet place to write where I could surround myself with all my notes and not have to move them until finished. I have a room in the house devoted to my writing now.
Every author seems to suffer with writer’s block at some point. How do you overcome it?
First, have a set place to write so that, when you get into that spot, your mind begins to think about writing. However, when I get stuck and don’t know what to write next, I take a couple of days off from writing. The guilt stimulates me back to the computer and the thoughts flow once again.
What single piece of advice would you give to any aspiring writer?
Don’t give up the dream. If you want to be an author, the opportunities to publish are greater now than ever before. Write as often as you can and keep your focus on the goals you’ve set.
What genre does your book fall into?
How did you get interested in this specific genre?
This has always been the genre that I love to read. I seek out stories that stimulate the mind and get the adrenalin pumping.
You as a reader
Which three authors have inspired you the most, and why?
1) Joseph Finder—because his novels place everyday people into impossible situations that test their talents to the limit
2) Steve Berry—because his novels always link some present-day crisis with an historical fact or intriguing myth
3) Steve Martini—because his novels never rely on gimmicks to weave a good story
What was your favourite book as a child?
Interestingly, I didn’t read much as a child, except what I was made to read in school. I began to read some simple thrillers in high school, but not until my wife introduced me to well-crafted novels did my love of reading blossom. The early Tom Clancy novels ignited that desire to consume books and the need to read continues as I age.
What is the best book you’ve read in the last 12 months?
Defending Jacob by William Landay
What was the last book you recommended to a friend, and why did you think it was worthy of recommendation?
It was Defending Jacob. I recommended it because it was truly a literary crime novel. This legal thriller has mesmerizing prose and an imaginative twist at the end.
Kindle (or other e-reader) or paperback, and why?
Both. If I had to choose, however, I would say an e-reader because I can load so many books onto it. I’ve been known to read two novels at a time and an e-reader makes that easy. Since I fly fairly often, the only problem with an e-reader is that I have to turn the device off during take off and landing, and that irritates me.
Hollywood is calling
You’ve had the call from Hollywood and they want your opinion on who should play the leading roles in the film based upon your book. Who would you choose, and why?
Gerard Butler, the Scottish actor, should be Jon Masters. He’s ruggedly handsome, has a “scrappy” nature and has a commanding presence—all good qualities for a successful professional about to lose it all and fighting for his life.
The film of your book is now going to need a soundtrack. Which musician(s) would you want to write and play it?
Gotye, the Australian musician-singer-songwriter. The music is haunting.
Drink – Milk (boring but nutritious)
Meal – Pizza (boring but excellent guy food)
Holiday destination – Vermont (love the quaintness and snow)
TV programme – Revenge (a great evening soap opera)
Film – Any James Bond movie
Method of travel – Airplane
Sport – Long Distance Running (several Half Marathons per year)
How can people connect with you?
Where can readers find your book?
Lethal Medicine will be published in early 2013
State of Illusion will be published in mid 2013
(Both will be available as e-book and paperback)
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