Testosterone Dublin 8 follows a man that uses testosterone to escape his unhappy life and in the process gets caught up with Dublin’s criminals. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling story?
A doctor suggested I start taking testosterone, and that prompted my interest in the hormone. As I observed changes in my own mind and body, and read more about it, I realized it could provide the foundation for a very interesting book.
Most people associate the hormone with sex and athletics, but it influences so much more, particularly mood, ambition, drive and confidence. That makes it a very interesting issue to write about, but I could find no other novel about it.
There was a time when only elite athletes took anabolic steroids (which means testosterone), but now millions of ordinary men (and some women) around the world are juicing. There are myriad advantages and dangers to this.
In addition, I live in a part of the Irish capital called Dublin 8, which is going through the gentrification process – just like other cities throughout the world such as San Francisco where I used to live.
Gentrification provides a very interesting energy in a place as ‘old’ and ‘new’ residents live side-by-side, usually together, but separate. Occasionally hostile. I wanted to comment on this in a book. A law-abiding man who suddenly becomes a drug dealer was the vehicle to do this. He had felt a little superior to his new neighborhood, but as time goes by, it’s clear he isn’t that much different from the people he lives among.
Jimmy is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some ideas that drove his character development?
He is disappointed in his life. He was from a middle-class family and middle-class community, but didn’t achieve this in his adult life. Losing his job is confirmation of this. Frequently he feels the judgement of his late father, who reminds him of his failings during his lowest points. He is ashamed, angry and suicidal.
Jimmy’s enhanced manliness leads to a drug-dealing business, and his pride is gradually restored. But when the money starts rolling in, what is his ambition for it? To move to a middle-class area; to finally be the person his late father wanted him to be.
The story takes place in Dublin. Why was this time and place important to your story?
Dublin has a gangland problem and there have been many murders in the Dublin 8 area that is described in the book.
In addition, this area is changing as new people who have middle-class aspirations arrive, displacing lower-class families who have been there for generations.
So the time and the place are important because they generate a natural environment for stories like mine to emerge. The reason Jimmy is living there is because of gentrification. The reason he can get involved in the drugs business is because that business is all around him.
More generally, Dublin is celebrated in many novels, and is most famously linked to works that were published 100 years ago. Nothing wrong with that, but I wanted to describe the Dublin of here and now.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am not working any but have several in mind involving the characters of Testosterone, Dublin 8.
TV producer Jimmy Fyffe starts taking anabolic steroids to restore the ‘manliness’ he has lost in a high-pressure career and unhappy marriage. His plan works – a little too well. Soon he is a cocaine dealer, carving out a market in Dublin’s more affluent suburbs. This draws him into conflict with two established drugs gangs. He is kidnapped, beaten and terrorised, and is linked to the killing of a drugs-lord and two Gardaí.
Is Jimmy next to die, or will the same newfound machismo that landed him in trouble also help him escape it? Things get worse before they get better. The extra testosterone in his system hardens him both mentally and physically, but he also becomes reckless and arrogant. Ultimately, redemption is found during an ayahuasca ceremony in the Wicklow mountains, when Jimmy confronts his past through a conversation with his dead father.
Testosterone, Dublin 8 describes the effect of the ‘male hormone’ on an individual, and on wider society. It is told against the backdrop of a gentrifying Dublin, where the two main tribes – locals and blow-ins – live side by side. It is a moral tale wrapped in a classic thriller that gets to the heart – and veins – of modern Ireland.
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Skeins follows a group of Indian woman as they travel through Europe learning something about life, each other, and themselves. What served as your inspiration for this uplifting novel?
Both my novels relate to a world well-known to me: urban educated India. I have been travelling a great deal for the past 14 years and I undertake at least one group tour overseas each year. Though the itinerary for the tour described in Skeins is similar to that of a group tour I undertook with Cosmos© in 2015, the similarity ends there as the tourists in the latter included men and women of varied nationalities. Also, when I had traveled to Ireland in 2016, my suitcase had not been transferred in time to the connecting flight by the airline staff at Munich airport during transit. These experiences sparked off my imagination, which led to the birth of Skeins.
There is a great collection of women from several generations in this group. Who was your favorite character to write for?
It’s like asking someone who is your favourite child. Each woman character is alive in my imagination with her own distinct personality, dreams and circumstances. They are all resilient as I don’t sympathize with whiners. I like women who get back on their feet after a hard tumble and find their own path in life without seeking sympathy or support. However, I particularly empathized with the characters Sandra D’Souza and Vidya Rao who are caught in a conundrum and need to make tough decisions.
I enjoyed how the characters each had their own story that contributed to the depth of their character. What were some themes you wanted to capture in this book?
Though the novel is a breezy read, it deals with serious societal issues related to women. I feel very strongly about the thwarting of women’s emotional, professional and intellectual independence and expression by a patriarchal society and a dominant partner who limit her role to that of a mother and a comfort provider. The novel also depicts the generic issues of social hierarchy, aspirational lifestyles, the violence within and without our homes, loneliness and dementia.
What is the next novel that you are working on and when will it be available?
I have a few ideas that I am exploring. When that creative spark is ignited, I know I will not take longer than two months to pen the story and edit it.
With a galaxy of identifiable characters from modern urban India depicted with light-hearted mirth in a travel environment, the novel explores serious issues, such as the quest for an independent identity and economic independence, the violence within and outside our homes, the loneliness of old age and the need for constructive channelization of youthful energy. Spanning events across a little more than a year, Skeins depicts how self-expression and a supportive environment trigger a cataclysmic effect and stimulate the women to realize their dreams.
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The Lethal Legacy follows Samantha and her husband as they embark on a dangerous adventure to uncover the family legacy. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?
The Lethal Legacy is the third book of a trilogy (The Purloined Legacy and The Perilous Legacy are the first two). Although all three books are stand-alone books, The Lethal Legacy is a continuation of Samantha’s search for answers to solve the additional mysteries of murder, deceit and theft that occurred to her ancestors. The inspiration for the first book came from some aspects of my husband’s ancestors who started out in Cork, Ireland, and migrated to Bordeaux, France, and later to New York and Sacramento during the late 1800’s. Likewise, The Lethal Legacy loosely uses another facet of my husband’s ancestors that had ties to the cacao industry in South America in the 19th century. All three books required extensive research from a historical perspective which was great fun to weave into the plots.
The story takes place in various exotic locations. What was your favorite location to write for and how did you research these places to get it right?
I had a great time writing about the different cities in Europe and Latin America where Samantha and Brett traveled to solve the mysteries of what happened to her ancestors and their immense wealth. While I have personally been to a number of those places, there are also a fair number of places that are in the storyline that I have never been to so I used the internet many times to explore each country’s culture, topography, and special sites unique to their cities. One of my favorite locations was Cork, Ireland, where the roots of the Delaney family began. While I have never been there, by using the internet (including you tube), it was fairly easy to vicariously experience the locations so that I could use that information and incorporate it into the storyline.
Your characters were always detailed and interesting. What do you find is important in creating believable characters?
I think that it is important for a writer to step into the shoes of each character to determine whether conversations, concepts or plots are accurately portrayed to create a sensation for readers to lose themselves in the story, and hopefully have a desire to keep turning the pages. It is also important for each character to have unique traits such as diction, disposition, or mannerisms that are distinct from other characters. Sometimes, I actually act out the dialogue to see if it is believable so that hopefully the reader is connected and wants to find out what happens next!
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
I don’t have a title for the next book yet, but it is a spin-off of one of the characters in the Legacy Series. I am just in the process of writing the first draft so it will likely be available early 2019—and it will definitely be a murder mystery with a little bit of history, a little bit of romance and lots of twists and turns.
Six months have passed since Dr. Samantha Delaney faced deadly encounters with a man who had sworn to destroy her and take the $60 million she had received as the last remaining heir to the Delaney legacy—a legacy that had been stolen many decades before. Given the demise of her enemy, Samantha thinks the danger is over. But but she is wrong. When a distant relative sends her a newspaper clipping reporting the 1914 murder of Samantha’s great-great-grandmother in Costa Rica, Samantha and her husband, Dr. Brett Perry, decide to do some preliminary research, never dreaming that their investigation would imperil Samantha once again. Beginning their research in Costa Rica, Samantha and Brett hope to learn about the murder of her ancestor and the loss of the family cacao plantation. What they find is a picturesque country with clear ocean water, pristine beaches—and more danger than they had ever anticipated. Their investigation quickly catapults them into the middle of a very calculated, lucrative, and illegal gold mining operation where the stakes are high enough to make murder a necessity for anyone who gets in the way. Samantha quickly learns that as a beneficiary to her great-great-grandmother’s company, she will most certainly be in the way.
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Into the Night features an unlikely pairing of characters who set out on a journey to battle barbarians and vampires across the English countryside. I felt like the setting was very detailed in this story. Why did you choose this time and place for your book?
Historically, in the early 1300’s, England became the landing point of the Vikings when they decided to leave their northern towns. Vampire legends were also very well-known and taken seriously throughout almost every century.
Vampire belief peaked and declined and then rose again as time went on. Vampires are indeed everlasting; at first being a tale of horror and then becoming a fascination. It is no doubt that vampires evolved like no other monster in our literature. The lore is still alive today and fills us both with fear and desire.
I studied old maps of the English countryside and manipulated some letters of real older towns to create my locations. I also mentioned some landmarks that still exist today to give Into the Night a more historical background rather than that of pure fantasy. Somehow, barbarians, vampires, and England just seemed to fit perfectly.
The book got its title because one evening I was driving with the sun behind me and darker night skies ahead of me. I was literally driving into the night. It felt ominous and fit the vibe of my story well. Also at that time, was a popular song on the radio that shared the same name by Santana and Chad Kroeger.
The hero’s Samuel and Valencia are dynamic characters that battle vampire matriarchs Isabella and Cerbera who are also well developed. What was your inspiration for the characters relationship and how they contrast with the villains?
Samuel is a drifter with no clear path in life. Valencia is unable to forget a bad memory and is driven to seek revenge. In a way Valencia is too harsh and Sam too meek; together they take what the other has too much of and it makes them a perfect duo.
The vampire sisters mask their vile intentions and wicked deeds with beauty that beguiles those they encounter. Without Valencia, Samuel would not have been able to (or perhaps not want to) resist them. It stems from the duality of our minds – the fear of losing our humanity (Soul, goodness) and the desire to break free from physical obstacles and society’s restraints and give in to lust. Valencia keeps him grounded and stands as an icon of strength and courage; which eventually wins Sam’s admiration.
I felt like this novel did a great job utilizing vampire lore and creating some of its own. How did you set about creating the vampires in your story?
Into the Night was my first screenplay (and my second published book). At the time I was reading: Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting by Syd Field. That’s when I decided to practice what I was reading. My first words of the story were Valencia’s speech to Sam, at their first encounter, about Cerbera stalking her prey. I remember putting the monologue on Facebook and getting replies like: “what happens next?” The truth is I didn’t know. I was just practicing a writing exercise I had assigned to myself, but I knew I had to make something out of it now.
It helped that I took a liking to everything vampire; watching movies from Nosferatu to Interview with a Vampire to Underworld, and collecting a library of vampire literature; from Camilla to Vlad to vampire encyclopedias.
Cerbera’s name is taken from a plant species found in India; known as the suicide tree due to its toxicity. The vampire sisters each have a unique trait. One paralyzes men with a touch, the other with a look. Together they symbolize heightened sexuality that dominates all men and is based on the biblical character, Lilith, who eventually formed the race of the succubus. The vampires in Into the Night are a compilation of everything I read and saw.
I would love to see more of the pairing of Samuel and Valencia. Do you have any plans to expand their story in the future?
I have thought about bringing Samuel and Valencia back together as a vampire fighting couple. With the barbarian threat culled and the vampire’s uncanny trait to keep coming back; I would be able to dedicate the story to just vampires.
In the middle of the story Sam and Valencia rescue a family that escapes to Ireland. That was intended to be the main plot for the continuation. The team rejoins to aid the family and fight a vampire threat in Ireland.
In the autumn of 1325 an army of barbarians invade the south-western region of England. A drifter named, Samuel and a strong-willed woman named, Valencia journey north to Ashborough to seek the aid of the steward’s army.
While on their mission they realize the barbarian army is close behind them along with two vampire matriarchs and their vampire horde. They find themselves in the midst of two wars as they fight northward on, what seems to be, a Sisyphean task.
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