Thursday, September 25, 2014
AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Dr. Timothy H. Cook
1. When/why did you decide to become a writer?
“When” is a hard question to answer. But realistically, it was when we got our first computer with a word processor. Then whatever nebulous ideas I had about writing took flight, and I was actually able to pin them down in black and white. This was around 1989. But I had written on a strictly amateur level for years, beginning sometime in my youth.
“Why” is easier to answer. It’s because I’ve always loved to tell stories, and writing provided the means to make the stories permanent.
2. What authors inspired you when you were younger? What books do you enjoy reading today?
Actually, there were many, but it was authors such as Rudyard Kipling and L. Frank Baum, with his wonderful Oz books, who provided my fertile childhood imagination with the stimulation, that later became The Book of Drachma.
What I love reading today, is whatever I feel like at any moment. And by that, I mean that I love reading nonfiction, biography, fantasy, fiction, short fiction, mysteries, theology, history, medical writing, children’s literature – you name it.
3. What was the inspiration behind The Book of Drachma series?
A gripe session – really. I had been attending a medical conference, and at lunch, my newly acquired colleagues and I spent the time griping about how the world of medicine was portrayed in the lay media. Not only were the details wrong, but, even more importantly, none of the writers got the feelings right. There was something special about “being a doctor,” which they simply did not understand, and did not portray. And on the way back home, I conceived this epic series, partly as an answer.
4. Did you originally plan it to be a series or was supposed to be a one-shot novel?
I had originally conceived it as a single novel, in three parts. And that is why it is hard to just leave the reading after one book, and why you can’t really just pick up the second or third book, and expect it to make much sense. But the publisher insisted on a trilogy, so three books there are.
5. Your bio says you're a seventh generation doctor, and that obviously influenced the main character, Dr. Gilsen, quite a bit. What's it like growing up in a family of renowned physicians?
I don’t know about renowned, but it’s strange – that of the six of us children, I’m the only one who ended up in medicine. And while it’s true, that Dr. Gilsen is, in many ways patterned after my father, the real inspiration for the physicians in the series: Dr. Gilsen, Craycroft, Cartho, and, yes, Falma were patterned after a real 16th century physician, named Paracelsus.
But as to the question of what is was like – it was obvious to me, growing up, that medicine was what stimulated me, gave me purpose, and it was what I was going to do.
6. What made you decide to write fantasy as opposed to a "realistic" medical novel?
How else was I going to incorporate Paracelsus, and what he represented, into a novel of medicine, and still keep true to my original vision?
7. What other genres would you like to try your hand at?
Perhaps a contemporary medical thriller, or an historical (nonfantasy) novel. Or short stories.
8. What was your original goal when writing Laminar Flow?
To write something different, yet to write in a readable way. Too many of the great fantasy writers (and I include my esteemed boarding school mate, Stephen Donaldson, in this) write with such a high prose style that reading their stuff becomes a chore. I wanted something aimed a bit lower.
9. How many books will the series spawn?
Well, it looks like there will be six (I’m already committed to the sequel, also as a trilogy). After that, I don’t really know.
10. Would you like to see The Book of Drachma in theaters or on TV? If so, what actors would you like to see play your characters?
You know, I’ve thought about this, and I’m not certain. You lose something, I think, when turning over your “baby” to Hollywood.
But, tongue-in-cheek, I could really see Sean Connery as Drachma!
11. Where do you see yourself and your career in the next ten years?
If I knew, I probably wouldn’t like what I saw. But I really would like to retire as a writer, because the world of medicine is now going so far beyond me, that I’m feeling like a dinosaur. But then, I’ve got other hobbies, such as painting, photography, music and travel to keep the boredom at bay.
12. What would you be doing if you weren't writing?
What I’m doing now – practicing medicine.
13. Can you tell KSR what you're working on next?
I’m working on the sequel to The Book of Drachma, which I am tentatively calling Heir of Drachma, and I’m nearly done with the first book (The Healer’s Defence).
14. What authors, dead or alive, would you like to collaborate with?
Patrick Rothfuss, Steve Donaldson, Kenneth Grahame, among others.
15. Thank you for participating in the interview. Can you please leave the readers with three things that may surprise them about you?
1) I made my operatic debut at 7 years of age, in India, playing Amahl (in an Indian version of Amahl and the Night Visitors)
2) I really think that I’m a better painter than writer
3) I don’t really have a home town, having grown up in India, and having lived in MA, PA, IN, TN, MI, OH, IA, OK and now AR.
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