Interview with James Fogel

What's the story behind your latest book?
Several years ago, a friend and I were talking about the problem of increasing population. Imagine a diabolical plot to inoculate every other third grader with some sort of birth control vaccine, he said. I remember saying that a virus is used in gene therapy to introduce the genetic change, and what if someone came up with a change that made people sterile? Then suppose that virus got loose on the general population? Too bad, we said, that Michael Crichton isn't alive to write the book.
Then later I started pecking on my laptop, and the story sort of wrote itself.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I had finished the first draft of my story and I attended a workshop for doctors and lawyers who want to become writers. A number of agents and best selling popular fiction writers were there. The writers told stories of how their best seller was rejected by twenty agents, or it took fifteen years to get their first book published. All the agents and writers agreed that the publishing industry was in sad shape. Then toward the end of the program when all the prospective writers were terribly depressed, a woman took the podium and told how she had e-published her first book with modest success, and then had written two more, and she had been so successful that she had given up her day job.
I presented my book idea to several agents who weren't interested. They were very nice though, and gave me some good tips on improving it, but I had already decided to go indie.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I was surprised. I'm a doctor and I've done some medical writing and public speaking, but I'd never tried fiction before. But I've always been a story teller. While I was writing, I found myself in my own parallel universe, and I could make all the characters say and do just the right things to advance the plot. It was enthralling and I'm starting to think about another book.
What are you working on next?
I have a plot idea about a hospital that has been bought out by a big for-profit chain. A disgruntled old doctor on the medical staff discovers some potentially illegal financial skullduggery and he comes under a lot of pressure to keep quiet. I've been on a number of boards of directors, so I actually know more about this than I do about genetics.
Who are your favorite authors?
Most of my reading has been nonfiction - history and biography. My fiction reading has been mostly literary fiction - Updike, Cheever, Robertson Davies, Cormac McCarthy, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, James Salter, Don DeLillo. But once I got started on this book, I immersed myself in thrillers - John Hart, Lee Child, Don Winslow, Tess Gerritsen, John Grisham. I read Techno thrillers by Michael Crichton, Robin Cook, and James Rollins. I think James Lee Burke is a terrific writer. Alan Weisman has written two current nonfiction books, "The World Without Us" and "Countdown" that do a great job of setting out the environmental and population issues that I cover in my book.
What is your writing process?
I had a clear idea of where I wanted to go, then started writing. Then it was a process of developing a voice for each character and filling out or cutting back the role of each character. I needed to have a very strong arc of the story, with all the action advancing the plot. Motivation had to be clearly established. Why would two reputable scientists devote themselves to such a risky project?
How do you approach cover design?
I changed titles after the book was practically finished. It had been "Vector 66", but I wasn't happy with it. One problem I had was that I had to cover a lot of ground in the developing field of genetic engineering without losing the reader, and the title sounded like a technical manual. We had been to the Vigeland Sculpture Garden in Oslo, and the central statue of all the human forms crowded as they pressed upward seemed to embody the word "Procreation". Cal Sharp produced the graphics for a well designed cover.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
I like everything by Robertson Davies, especially "The Deptford Trilogy". Cheever is one of my favorite authors, and "Light Years" by James Salter has that same clarity and elegance of writing. "State of Wonder" by Ann Patchett really hooked me because it covers some of the same ground with the same tone as my novel. Cormac McCarthy's border trilogy, especially "The Crossing" are really well written with a lot of grit and moral fiber. "The Angel's Game", like all Carlos Ruiz Zafon's novels, has a magical, mystical,operatic quality. He's a Spanish Robertson Davies.
What do you read for pleasure?
Since I've discovered e-readers, I've been doing a lot more reading, and lately it's been nonfiction. I just finished Alan Weisman's "Countdown" and I've picked up "The Greater Journey" by David McCullough.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I like my Samsung S3. I read a lot lying down, and holding a small, lightweight device is easy. I can stick it in my pocket and read while I'm waiting for my car repair or in the doctor's office.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I'm semi retired, which means I still volunteer at our local free clinic, and I go to Latin America from time to time to check on some contraception projects. We live in an academic community, so there are a lot of educational and cultural programs available. I enjoy getting outside, whether it's hiking, golfing, fishing, or digging in the garden. And in the past few years I really enjoy writing - a lot.
Published 2014-07-23.
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Books by This Author

Procreation
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 117,240. Language: English. Published: July 3, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » General, Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic
The major catastrophes of our time are linked to the two pivotal issues of our time. They are the destruction of the natural environment and human overpopulation. They are the Siamese twins, separated at birth but soon to be catastrophically united. "Procreation” tells the riveting story of an ingenious discovery in genetic engineering that could bring either salvation or apocalypse