Questions and Answers About Doc’s Codicil

1.  What was your reason or motivation for writing your book?

The country was in the midst of political discussions varying from the wisdom of our involvement in Iraq, the budget, and the validity of the science behind concerns about climate change. I wanted to write a story that would give the public some idea of how science is done and would cover ideas—good, bad, and indifferent.

  1. How does your background resonate with the story?

Although it is a work of fiction, I think it’s clear that Doc, his family, and his problems are loosely based on my family and my time in veterinary practice in northern WI. I am also a scientist with 19 years experience in the research and development of animal vaccines.

  1. Which character do you like the most and why? The least and why?

My favorite characters turned out to be Doofus and Gladys. Doofus because of his enthusiasm and bon homme and Gladys because through her I could give voice to the animals I’ve with.

  1. Are there situations and/or characters in your book that you identify with? If so, how? Certainly. Doc’s character is based on my life—but, the story is a work of fiction. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.
  1. What scene resonated the most with you personally, in either a positive or negative way? The scene in which Doc talks to Prof. Rogers on the phone while Doc’s wife makes comments. I think it resonated with me because the dialogue was right.
  1. Were the story or characters inspired by real people or situations? The book is based loosely on things that happened or came very close to happening. Some characters were purely my imagination. Others were based loosely on 2 or 3 people I’d met. I did it to make sure that no one would be offended or hurt by how I’d portrayed them.
  1. Were there any moments when you disagreed with the choices of any of the characters? I imagined my character’s personalities and let them lead me.
  1. What did you learn when writing your book? My biggest surprise was discovering that my wildest ideas were the ones that benefited me and others the most. I had started the book partly to criticize stupid ideas. Mid-way through, I had to admit that it’s not easy to tell the difference between crazy and genius, provided no laws of nature, physics, or chemistry are broken.

When I was in graduate school, a research paper of mine was published by a highly regarded scientific journal. The first two outside reviewers disagreed on whether the paper was worth publishing, and the editor had to bring in a third reviewer to break the tie. Later at a scientific convention, a scientist, his face red, stood up in a meeting and angrily criticized the paper.

I was upset, but my graduate adviser told me that if everyone agreed with a paper, the work probably wasn’t worth doing. Advances are made by work that is often ignored or criticized for several years.

I think the same holds true for the ideas we all come up with. If everyone agrees that it the idea sounds good, there are probably 50 people out there doing it already. It’s the idea that people think is off the wall or silly that will someday be important—if you did your homework, if your reasoning is sound, if you work hard at it, and if you’re lucky. We have to risk failure to succeed, and many times we will fail.

  1. During the writing process, what surprised you the most about your book, your characters, etc. ? I was surprised at how fond I became of even the characters I set out to present as boors and oafs.
  1. What do you think happened to the characters after the book ended? The sequel.
  1. Who are your favorite authors? Quite a list. Currently I’m making a point of reading what Ron Rash is writing because of his poetic use of the language.
  1. What are you currently working on?

A Jerk, A Jihad, And A Virus, a humorous thriller, will be published in May, 2016.

I’m working on an anthology of short stories. All are based loosely on things that happened to me. Those that are completely true (creative non-fiction) I use as introductions to essays. Not all of the stories are humorous.

I have the first 5 chapters of the sequel to Doc’s Codicil written, but I haven’t found something deeper that I’m trying to get across to the reader yet. Without that, it’s pretty hard for me to continue the story.