How did PLEASURIA: Take As Directed come to be? It all started when I retired from a 39-year career working in pharmaceutical development (both the FDA and industry). Retirement gave me the time to try my hand at writing fiction. I have always loved murder mysteries, so I chose that genre to start. But the classical formula for this genre generally calls for dark, sinister and disturbing.
I had just written my first two books, GUARDIAN ANGEL: UNFORGIVEN and GUARDIAN ANGEL: INDOCTRINATION, two dark murder mysteries. I worked really hard to create the evilest villains I could imagine, a bizarre serial killer and an insane cult leader. The writing experience was fun, I liked the stories, and the endings were satisfying, with an interesting twist or two thrown in the mix. But, I found myself somewhat depressed after spending so much time with these evil characters. I needed to lighten things up, to laugh.
I had also spent 39 years in the pharmaceutical industry, a serious and stressful business. Then there’s the current social climate, where you can’t turn on the TV without hearing about demonstrations, school shootings and people generally wanting to strangle each other.
Being a pharmacologist, I naturally wanted to find an antidote for all this seriousness, gloom and doom. It’s been said that laughter is the best medicine, so that’s what I went for with PLEASURIA.
With PLEASURIA: Take As Directed I wanted to create a book that was truly unique and fun to read, and to write. I chose the murder mystery genre because it’s my favorite, and it has the potential for comedy (e.g. Inspector Clouseau and Adrian Monk). My intention was to write a compelling medical murder mystery with a ludicrous plot and laugh-out-loud comedy, so the reader would have no reason for deep or serious thought, just pure enjoyment, pure escape from the realities of today. The comedy is along the lines of a movie starring Steve Martin or Gene Wilder and directed by Mel Brooks or Carl Reiner.
If there is anything even slightly meaningful or thought-provoking in PLEASURIA, it may be the insights into the juvenile mind of a man in midlife crisis, one of the central themes of the book. The main character, Dr. Jason Longfellow, is a bored FDA drug reviewer suffering a serious midlife crisis, who gets his PI license and plays private eye on weekends in order to shake up his life. He is a devout family man with a beautiful wife and three young daughters, and yet he feels trapped in a deep rut. His mind keeps wandering into the realm of the “what if…” What if I had the exciting life of a private eye? What if that young woman over there was interested in me? What if I bought a Harley or a little red sports car and started driving west? But the more reasonable side of his mind responds to all these midlife questions the same: what if my wife hurts me?
I staged the story in the pharmaceutical industry, an arena where I’m very comfortable. I created Dr. Jason Longfellow, who, due to his midlife crisis plays at bumbling private eye on weekends with no idea what he’s doing. I also came up with a unique and absurd method for the murderer to kill off the victims, providing comedy of the absurd. I took one of the known drug side effects of the ‘little blue pill’ and let my imagination run free from there. To see where that took me you’ll have to read the book.
So for PLEASURIA, I decided to have some fun, to really enjoy what I was doing, and to write what I know, a story staged in the pharmaceutical industry. This must have been a good decision, because I believe I found my voice in this book. Two publishers responded within two weeks of my sending out my first round of query letters, and both said that the book had made their editors laugh out loud. So for me, having fun and writing what I know seems to have worked.
My next book is a sequel to PLEASURIA entitled Dr. Jason Longfellow and the Traveling Killer. This is another medical comedy murder mystery, in which the Longfellow family finds themselves in a trip across country, and they discover that someone has it out for our defective detective. I plan to finish this one in 2019.