Monday, May 23, 2016

Talking Books with Thriller Author Sean Dow

Sean Dow is a pulmonary and critical care physician in Great Falls, Montana. He started writing thriller novels in 2011, and has three titles, one of which, Debridement, is in its second printing and is being made into a feature film.

Sean was born in Iowa City, but was raised on a small farm in Kansas before leaving for medical school, and the adventures beyond. His career was largely in Klamath Falls, Oregon, a town that still feels like home. He did a brief stent in Las Vegas before moving to the paradise of Montana. When not working or writing, Sean can be found in the kitchen perfecting his New York cheesecake, or on the mountain streams with Bailey, his beloved (and perfectly behaved) Mastiff and his favorite 2 weight fly rod-a parting gift from a dear friend and patient.

His latest books are A Leafy Green World and Al-thar.

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About the Book:

A Leafy Green World is a fast paced, action packed thriller set in the Pacific Northwest. Dr. Brent Holcomb has moved to Portland in hopes of resurrecting his life and his career. There, he meets Robyn-the girl from his dreams. All is going smoothly until he realizes Robyn and her friends are not what they seem. Now, wrapped up in the murder of an innocent man, and with nowhere to turn, Brent forms a bold plan-a plan that will put him on a dangerous course, aligning himself with domestic terrorists and ultimately, a deeply hidden cell of Islamic terrorists. 

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In Al-thar, (Arabic:revenge) Brent is living a tranquil life on the peaceful Philippine island of Masbate. But the FBI's witness protection plan is not enough when you have destroyed the plans of the world's most feared terrorist group-an assassin is on the way, and his plans are far worse than a simple bullet in the head. 

With the violent destruction of his new island home, Dr. Holcomb is once again thrust into danger, this time on an international level. There are only two outcomes in this new high-stakes match, Brent's painful and public death and the destruction of
America's, or the death of Saadullah Abul Ka-beir, and his council. 

Brent brings together his cast of memorable friends from A Leafy Green World as he devises the greatest deception ever imagined. The action goes at a break-neck pace from the
Philippines to Washington, D.C., and from a remote valley in Pakistan to the jungles of Sierra Leone in this novel that has been described as almost too real, and too timely.

For More Information

  • Al-thar is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Can you tell us what your book is about?

There are two books. The first, A Leafy Green World introduces us to Dr. Brent Holcomb, a physician who turned his back on a life of extreme privilege when he discovered that his family was involved in a despicable criminal enterprise. Just as things are turning around, tragedy strikes and he is cast into a downward spiral. A move to Portland, Oregon seems to have him put back on path, until he discovers that his new friends are not what they seem, and he finds himself immersed in the world of domestic terrorism. A hidden cell of international terrorists with ties to his family’s criminal roots completes the picture, putting him on a treacherous path.

In the sequel, Al-thar(Arabic for revenge) we are reunited with Brent’s remarkable friends when the terrorists find him in the witness protection plan. An act of extreme violence sets Brent on a path for revenge, one that takes him across the world, and that has incredible risk.

Why did you write your book?

The satisfaction I received from writing my first novel compelled me to push forward with another.

Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

The main character is Brent Holcomb, the physician who is compelled to right his family’s wrongs and to try to make the world a better place.

Robyn is his girlfriend, the dream-come-true girl who rescues him from a deep depression-that is, until he discovers that she is not the person she seems to be.

Fred-the Labrador retriever. Brent’s affection for this abused animal starts him on a course he could never have imagined.

Tony Rossi, special agent with the FBI. A failed marriage with a devastating divorce, a series of missteps at work and a budding career in alcoholism have Agent Rossi about to be fired. A message from Brent, whose father Rossi arrested years ago has given him one last chance, if only he can convince his friend, and superior, to trust him on a most improbable mission, one he is not allowed to discuss. 

Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?
Some of both. In my first novel, Debridement, readers who know me will recognize several of the characters. In A Leafy Green World and Al-ther, the characters are entirely made up, with the exception of the president, who is based on a real politician.

Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel or do you discover it as you write?

No, the plot unfolds before me as I write, Keeps me in suspense, not knowing how the story will go until I get there.

Your book is set in Portland, Oregon for A Leafy Green World, then on an international scale for Al-thar, but starting in the Philippines.  Can you tell us why you chose this city in particular?

The Pacific Northwest is the center of the animal rights and ecological terrorist movements. Portland has the political landscape to make it credible, and I am familiar with the city. I chose the Philippines for the sequel, though I have never been there. I have, however, met many most wonderful people from the islands, and wanted to honor them in my story.

Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

In Portland, yes, it lends itself perfectly to the story, in fact, I couldn’t imagine it taking place anywhere else.

Open the book to page 69.  What is happening?

The head nurse in the ICU is rounding with Dr. Holcomb when he humorously comments that if he ever gets to the point one of their patients is at, that the highlight of the day is having a bowel movement, that he be put out of his misery. The nurse teases him that if he ever got admitted he would be used as a teaching tool for the student nurses to learn the perfect enema.

Is it hard to get a thriller book published?

As an unknown author it is very difficult to get a thriller published through a traditional publishing house.

Is it hard to promote a thriller book and where do you start?

Marketing the novel is far harder to do successfully than writing it. There is a lot of competition out there, and plenty of companies making outlandish promises for marketing, happy to take an author’s money, but frequently shy on results. Social media is the promise, these days, and there are good references out there on how to utilize it, but the learning curve is very steep. However, there is no easy short cut to marketing success, and it requires a constant effort to keep a novel in sales.

Have you suffered from writer’s block and what do you do to get back on track?

Writer’s block has been my constant companion over the years, and I have come to accept it, and no longer be stressed when it shows it’s ugly face. My most successful way to defeat it is to ignore it for a bit, and do other things. An idea will always come, often at unexpected times, and the writing will usually take off at a feverish pace, after that.

What would you do with an extra hour today if you could do anything you wanted?

Read! I have a stack of books I want to read, but time conspires against me, especially now that I have a puppy!

Which holiday is your favorite and why?

The fourth of July. My family and several generations of friends gather at my parent’s farm for a barbeque and fireworks. My children and I spend hours at the pond, building increasingly sophisticated dioramas on the beach, only to blow them up with firecrackers and smoke bombs, when finished.

If we were to meet for lunch to talk books, where would we go?

A quiet place that serves good coffee.

What do you like to do for fun?

I have more hobbies than I can adequately pursue, especially now that I have a Mastiff puppy, but outdoors activities are my passion, especially fly fishing, but I also hunt rocks and edible mushrooms. Cooking is my other main passion, and I nearly have my cheesecake perfected, much to the delight of the nurses in my ICU.

Can you tell us about your family?

My father is a geologist, still working well into his 80’s, with a number of exciting projects underway. My mother is a delightful person, actively involved in her church. I have a brother in Alaska, retired after the downturn in oil prices and ready to enjoy life, and a sister who teaches grade school. I have three children, boys, who all live in Oregon and are a joy to watch ass they grow and mature.

What do you like the most about being an author?

The joy of hearing back from happy readers!

What is the most pivotal point of a writer’s life?

That moment when one decides to commit and start that lifetime dream of writing your first novel.

What kind of advice would you give other fiction authors?

Write!!! The writing process is so enjoyable and fulfilling, there is nothing else like it. Best advice once going is to read and apply the lessons from “Self Editing for Fiction Authors.” Organized by common mistakes authors make(I made every one of them). Finally, hire the best editor you can afford-do NOT let your friends or family do your editing, this is the kiss of death.

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