Thursday, October 21, 2010

Author Interview: Dean DeLuke (Shedrow)

Please join me in welcoming author, Dean DeLuke to My Reading Room today as part of his Pump Up Your Book tour.  Dean is the author of Shedrow, which is a fascinating book that takes a look into the world of breeding horses and horseracing.  It's a great suspense read.  For now though I have Dean for an interview, thank you so much Dean for joining us today!

How would you describe Shedrow to others?
Shedrow has been dubbed a cross between Dick Francis and Robin Cook, because it is a racetrack thriller in the spirit of Dick Francis, but there is a medical mystery at the heart of the story—surrounding the mysterious death of a multimillion dollar stallion on a supposedly secure farm in Lexington KY. And because the principal character happens to be a surgeon, there is a good deal of medical drama throughout the book.

Where did the idea for Shedrow come from?
I came up with the story concept by drawing on both my medical background as well as a longstanding interest in thoroughbred racing. The “what if” concept behind Shedrow was this: what if a multimillion dollar stallion dies under very mysterious conditions on a supposedly secure farm near Lexington, KY? From that starting point comes a compelling story of “murder, sabotage, infidelity, and a whole lot more,” as one recent reviewer commented.

I saw on your website that you met Robert Dugoni, Michael Palmer and Tess Gerritsen, all authors that practiced in professions before embarking on writing novels, how did that come about and what was the one most important thing you came away with from meeting with them?
All three take part in the SEAK Writing Seminars, designed to teach physicians and lawyers how to write fiction. That mentoring experience was invaluable, and it’s difficult to single out one thing that was most important. But I can mention one key point that I recall from each. From Robert Dugoni, I learned the importance of pacing in writing a thriller. From Tess Gerritsen, I learned that it’s not always necessary to outline. Start with good characters and a “what if” concept and the characters can take on a life of their own. And Michael Palmer always reminded us to “be fearless” in our writing.

You have a pretty impressive resume of work and volunteer work, what would you say was the favorite thing you have done?
Writing Shedrow rates right up there. My medical mission work was very gratifying. I also enjoy the challenge of offshore navigation.

Did you plan this book out or do you just write and see where it took you?
I am not a great outliner. I tend to start with a big “what if,” something that will drive the plot. In Shedrow it was, “what if a multimillion dollar stallion dies under very mysterious conditions in a supposedly secure farm in Kentucky.” For me, the characters and the question at the heart of the story then drive the plot. One of the most fascinating and enjoyable things in writing fiction is how the story can, in fact, take on a life of its own. I am sometimes in the middle of a scene, and suddenly a diversion or twist takes place—and it turns out to be a really interesting one. I may look back a day or so later and wonder where that came from.

Do you get time to read? What are your favorite types of books to read?
I like a pretty eclectic mix on the fiction side: F. Scott Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Salinger, Vonnegut, Ayn Rand, Robert Parker, Richard Russo, Stephen Hunter. Then I have to add three more that personally helped me to learn the craft: Tess Gerritsen, Michael Palmer and Robert Dugoni.

What is your favorite room in your house?
I do most of my writing in a second story den or office. It overlooks a wooded area, so there is greenery in the summer and snow scenes in the winter.

What is your favorite season?
I like the four seasons, but summer is my favorite time.

Do you have a schedule for writing each day or do you just do it when you can?
I write whenever and wherever I can. In writing Shedrow, I tended to think in terms of a weekly word count goal, because I wasn’t able to write every day. Some days it might be nothing, or a few hundred words, other days I might write 1500 words.

Did you find writing Shedrow to be difficult or did the book just take off with no problems?
I certainly wouldn’t say it took off with no problems, but once I had the “what if” concept, the chapters flowed rather freely. But I am a relentless editor, so I refined, and revised, and re-ordered chapters until I was satisfied that I had it right. Then I sent it out for critique and revised it even more.

Do you have a new book in the works?
I have a general idea and an opener for a sequel to Shedrow.

Anything else you would like to say?
Thanks for asking. I think I should mention that I have arranged to donate a portion of all sales proceeds to the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, which saves horses that can no longer compete on the racetrack from possible neglect, abuse, or slaughter. It is a cause that I have donated personally to and one I obviously feel strongly about.

Thanks for joining us today Dean!