Publisher: Astor + Blue Editions; 1 edition (November 7, 2014)
ISBN-10: 194128602X: ISBN-13: 978-1941286029
Bookpleasures.com today is pleased to have as our guest, Allen Wyler. Allen is a renowned neurosurgeon who earned an international reputation for pioneering surgical techniques to record brain activity.
He has served on the faculties of both the University of Washington and the University of Tennessee, and in 1992 was recruited by the prestigious Swedish Medical Center to develop a neuroscience institute.
In 2002, he left active practice to become Medical Director for a start-up med-tech company (that went public in 2006) and he now chairs the Institutional Review Board of a major medical center in the Pacific Northwest.
Leveraging a love for thrillers since the early 70’s, Wyler devoted himself to fiction writing in earnest, eventually serving as a Vice President of the International Thriller Writers organization for several years. After publishing his first two medical thrillers Deadly Errors (2005) and Dead Head (2007), he officially retired from medicine to devote himself to writing full time. His other novels include Changes, Dead Wrong, Dead End Deal, and Dead Ringer.
He and his wife, Lily live in downtown Seattle.
Norm: Good day Allen and thanks for participating in our interview.
When did you first consider yourself a writer and what keeps you going?
Allen: It was something I always dreamed of. In pre-med, I majored in English. One Saturday when driving home from making hospital rounds, I decided to begin a novel. It’s been a very long haul since then with a ton of rejection along the way, but it’s paid off.
Norm: Where do you see book publishing heading?
Allen: I love creating and telling stories, so I’ll probably keep writing until I can no longer work. In Deadly Odds I’ve branched out from the medical thriller genre to techno-thrillers. A project coming out next Spring—Cutter’s Trial—isn’t a thriller at all. If Cutter’s Trial does well, I’ll do a sequel. I’m in the process of writing Deadly Odds 2.0 now.
Norm: Why do you believe readers enjoy reading thrillers?
Allen: I believe the pacing is what attracts thriller readers. A good thriller keeps the story moving without a lag. In contrast, many literary novels contain a lot of navel gazing and pontificating. So if a person, like me, who has reader-ADHD, enjoys a faster paced book. I believe an author can develop a character without bogging down narrative.
Norm: How easy or difficult was it to switch careers from being a neurosurgeon to becoming a full time author and why did you do it?
Allen: Years before I stopped practice I made a vow: that no neurosurgeons should practice past age 55 (60 at most). When I turned 55, I walked out of the operating room and into hospital administration. A few years later, I was offered the opportunity to be Chief Medical Officer of a start-up company. I jumped at the chance. By the time we took the company public my first two thrillers had been published by Tor/Forge, so migrating to full-time writer was an easy transition.
Norm: Are you a plot or character writer?
Allen: I don’t think you can have one without the other. Deadly Odds has my most well-developed lead character in Arnold Gold. But the book is equally weighted between the plot and Arnold.
Norm: What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Allen: Probably my regimentation. I write every morning, all year. I treat writing as a full-time job. I may put in only one or two hours some days, but I keep at it.
Norm: What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
Allen: That there are really interesting things happening every day in the news or around me that could potentially be developed into stories. The trick is to be able to quickly sift out the ones worth keeping. I have an ongoing list of potential ideas.
Norm: How much of your novels are realistic?
Allen: I base my stories on real events. Deadly Odds was based on two real phenomenon: Nate Silver and the Dark Net. As a consequence, I do fairly in-depth research when developing plots.
Norm: Do you work from an outline and do you know the ending of your books at the beginning?
Allen: I start with a plot kernel—an idea I find intriguing—and decide how to develop it. Deadly Odds was built around the kernel of being able to predict outcomes with the use of artificial intelligence. Once that concept was solidified, I decided the story’s ending and the beginning before filling in the story bulk. I ended up with a very granular outline. Arnold’s character subsequently fell into place while I was outlining. By the time I actually started to write the story I had a 35 page outline with several separate pages that defined my characters.
Norm: Can you share a little of your current work, Deadly Odds with us? As a follow up, what purpose do you believe your story serves and what matters to you about the story?
Allen: Most people have no idea what the Dark Net is or what goes on there. Deadly Odds serves informs readers of this vast unregulated portion of the Internet. Just this last week Silk Road 2.0 was in the news when federal authorities shut it down. Most people have no idea that the first Silk Road was a way to traffic illegal drugs (cocaine, heroin, etc.) on the Internet. Other technical details, such as the Tor Browser, are explained in a way that is very understandable for to non-tech savvy readers.
Norm: What served as the primary inspiration for Deadly Odds and what would you say is the best reason to recommend someone to read the book?
Allen: Two events inspired the story. One was Nate Silver’s ability to predict past presidential election with 99% accuracy. The other was an article in Wired that discussed Silk Road and the impact of the Dark Net. Once I started thinking of the plot possibilities, I couldn’t let it go.
Norm: What would you like to say to writers who are reading this interview and wondering if they can keep creating, if they are good enough, if their voices and visions matter enough to share?
Allen: Everybody has a story to tell. The trick is to develop a way to weave a story that will not only resonate with readers, but will keep their interest. If you do decide to set out on this road, don’t let rejection stop you.
Norm: Where can our readers find out more about you and your novels and what is next for Allen Wyler?
Allen: Please check out MY WEBSITE
Norm: As this interview draws to a close what one question would you have liked me to ask you? Please share your answer.
Allen: There are people who helped me get started: the agents who saw potential in my writing. Without them, I never would have been published. I’ll always be grateful for their confidence in me.
Norm: Thanks again and good luck with all of your future endeavors?
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