Sunday, May 31, 2009

Interview with author JP O'Donnell

Today we're excited to talk with JP O'Donnell, author of Fatal Gamble and Deadly Codes.  These two mystery books feature Daniel Gallagher, a private investigator and the crimes he is hired to solve.

FQ:  Prior to your two Gallagher novels, had you done any writing?  Short stories, other novels, or perhaps articles for scientific journals?

I have done a lot of writing in my professional career as a pediatric dentist.  Most of this writing included articles on pediatric oral pathology, case reports and clinical studies on sealants.  I was also the editor of a manual on preventive dentistry for special needs patients.  One of my proudest moments occurred when I was awarded the “Golden Pen” award by the International College of Dentists for my contributions to a journal devoted to pediatric dental trauma.  It was so satisfying to have someone tell me that I was a good writer.  Fatal Gamble and Deadly Codes, however, are my first efforts in the genre of mystery fiction.

FQ:  How does a mild-mannered pediatric dentist come up with such intriguing stories of murder and mayhem?

I guess I just have a good imagination.  The background story of Fatal Gamble is based on my real life involvement with a group of fellow professionals who formed a partnership and constructed a medical office building.  But none of us bribed a congressman or were shot by a mysterious hit man.  All of those elements of Fatal Gamble are true fiction.  My real estate partners got a big kick out of the book, and we still share so many laughs about their “characters” when we get together. 

My career as a pediatric dentist is separate and distinct from my creative writing.  In fact, if I was starting all over, I would still choose to be a pediatric dentist; I love my profession and still enjoy it.   Fortunately, I have been able to find time to blend two careers together and pursue my interest in writing.

FQ:  What is it about the genre (mystery/suspense) that interests you?  What do you find about the genre most challenging?

Clearly the most fascinating part of mystery writing is allowing your imagination to take your story and run with it.  For me, as a first-time author, this was so much fun.  The most challenging part, however, is maintaining the correct “point of view” in every chapter.  I never realized the importance of this aspect of fictional writing until I went through the editorial process with my first book.  Shifting the point of view within a scene can cause you to lose your reader.

FQ:  Deadly Codes came out shortly after your first book.  Did you plan from the start to write two books or had you begun writing it before Fatal Gamble was published?

After I finished my manuscript of Fatal Gamble, I shopped it around to a number of literary agents.  No one was interested.  So I enrolled in a Medical Fiction Writing Program given by NY Times best-selling authors, Michael Palmer and Tess Gerritsen.   At this program I not only learned a lot about writing fiction but had the opportunity to show my manuscript to a number of literary agents in attendance.  The response was favorable, but I was told I had to prove I was a writer by writing another book.  Since the agents seemed to like my main character, Gallagher, I decided to keep his story alive and began writing Deadly Codes, the sequel to Fatal Gamble.    I finished it within seven months and submitted both books for publication in 2008. 

FQ:  Your main character, Gallagher, is an interesting person.  He loves his job but is at times conflicted with his professional life interfering with his personal life.  Was it important for you to show him as more than just a private detective?  And what about Kate?  Was it important to show how the life of a private detective affects those around him?

In order for Gallagher to be “real” to the reader, I needed him to have conflict within his life.  I wanted Gallagher and the reader to love Kate, but I wanted Gallagher to have an undeniable, magnetic draw to his cases—a force he can’t resist.  In turn, an interesting conflict develops for the reader who wants Gallagher to solve the case, but also wants him to be with Kate.  This seems to have worked very well. From the many comments I have received, a legion of Gallagher fans has developed. 

This conflict between Gallagher’s career as a private investigator and his personal life with Kate creates the critical emotional tension throughout Deadly Codes.  

FQ:  Is the Washington/corruption component in Fatal Gamble a statement on your part?

In Fatal Gamble, Washington, DC was important because a US Congressman played a vital role in the overall storyline.  The theme of political corruption is not an editorial comment on my part but merely a means to move the story along and maintain the reader’s interest.  I found it ironic that Fatal Gamble, a story written in 2006 with a subplot of problems within the federal banking system, was published right around the time of the banking collapse of 2008. 

FQ:  Washington, DC plays a part in both books.  Is this a coincidence? 

In Deadly Codes I needed to introduce the subplot of selling secret coded information to a hostile enemy nation.  What better place to begin than our nation’s capital?   Besides, Gallagher needed a good excuse to return to one of his (and my) favorite luncheon haunts, the Old Ebbitt Grill where he could meet up with his (and my) old friend, Tony Macmillan.

FQ:  Your books take several sharp turns to keep the reader on his toes.  Do you have all the major and minor plot twists worked out before you start writing?

Actually I followed the same format for both books:  I wrote the first chapter, then the last chapter, and connected everything in between.  I did make a rough outline in the beginning, but I did not know exactly how the story would unfold as I went along.   As my characters came to life, I tried to imagine how they would act and speak in certain situations.  Although I am, of course, quite fond of Gallagher and Kate, my favorite character in either book is Rebecca Johnson in Deadly Codes.  She is deliciously evil.  I believe my best writing occurs in the scene where Gallagher meets up with Rebecca in the bar at the Station Grill.

FQ:  Will we be seeing Gallagher again soon? 

Yes, I am working on the third book of the series.  Gallagher finds out that Kate has disappeared—a secret from her past has put her life in danger.  Stay tuned.

To learn more about Fatal Gamble and Deadly Codes, please read the reviews at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

FREE Book - Just a Few More Days to Enter

Our monthly free book contest is about to come to an end for the month of May. This month's book is the adorable children's story, When The Cows Got Loose by Carole Weis. This is a SIGNED copy! There is absolutely no obligation. Read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews and then visit our WIN A BOOK! page for your chance to win. Again, there is absolutely no obligation. Contest closes May 31, 2009 - Hurry! Good Luck!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Interview with author John C. Hughes

Our interview today is with John C. Hughes, author of The Illustrated History of Hypnotism.

FQ: What initially got you interested in hypnotism?

My first encounter with hypnosis and hypnotic phenomena was in a psychology class at Boston University in 1950. This stirred my interest and shortly thereafter I had the good fortune of studying hypnotism under the tutelage of Dr. Rexford L. North, who later became the founder of The National Guild of Hypnotists. Dr. North was a fascinating man and a wonderful teacher. He was by all odds the premier hypnotist of the late 1940s and early 1950s, as a teacher and therapist.

When I entered this fascinating field the use of hypnosis as a therapeutic modality was virtually nonexistent. Back then only a small number of medical doctors used hypnosis openly in their practices. Milton Erickson, William Kroger, Louis Wolberg, and a few other brave souls had the courage and fortitude to use hypnosis in their practices and encourage its use by other professionals.

At that time hypnotherapy, as we know it today, did not exist, and none of the medical or dental schools then provided postgraduate training in hypnosis.

While attending college in Davenport, Iowa I started teaching, on a small scale, what essentially was the Rexford L. North hypnotism course. In the beginning all participants were fellow students. Those students told others and my course became popular. To my astonishment even members of the faculty––my professors––enrolled in my course. This unforeseen success encouraged me to advertise, and soon I was conducting classes in the larger cities in Iowa and Illinois. I was a student by day and a teacher of hypnotism at night.

This situation provided me with a unique opportunity. Since postgraduate training in hypnotherapy was not available in the mid-1950s, my courses attracted many health professionals. (It was not until 1958 that the Council on Mental Health of the American Medical Association gave official sanction for the use of hypnosis by its members.) At the request of these doctors, I was called into their offices to hypnotize patients with various medical problems, such as obesity, smoking, insomnia, wryneck, bad habits, for the alleviation of pain in terminal cancer cases and anesthesia for medical and dental procedures.

FQ: What sort of education/training have you completed?

In 1959 I was awarded a D.C. (doctor of chiropractic) degree from Palmer School of Chiropractic, Davenport, Iowa.

FQ: Obviously the book is chock-full of factual information, but was there anything in particular that surprised you as you researched and wrote The Illustrated History of Hypnotism?

Yes, numerous books relating to the theoretical and experimental foundations of hypnosis, along with texts on the clinical uses of hypnosis as an adjunct to medical and psychological treatment were found in my research. I did not find, however, any adequate history of how hypnotism has grown since it was introduced––under the name of “animal magnetism”––by the Viennese physician Franz Anton Mesmer over two centuries ago.

My book, then, fills that gap. It introduces the reader to many fascinating and colorful personalities who pioneered and developed hypnotherapy. Thought their achievements were of a magnitude comparable in the field of psychology to those of Pasteur, Lister, and other giants of physical medicine, these great hypnotists remain virtually unknown to general readers.

FQ: Which historical figure did you find most interesting to write about and why?

Franz Anton Mesmer. Mesmer believed that the effects he was able to produce in the thousands of patients who came to him for treatment were due to the operation of a mysterious magnetic fluid that permeated the universe, and which he was somehow able to tap and direct to healing purposes.

Erroneous though this concept was, the results he obtained were, with few exceptions, so beneficial, and brought such genuine relief to sufferers from both physical and psychological ailments, he could justly claim his animal magnetism, as he called it, was safe and effective, as well as a wholly new therapy.

By whatever measure he is judged, Mesmer was one of those extraordinary individuals who left a permanent imprint upon history. All subsequent development of hypnotism, and of psychoanalysis and allied disciplines, can be traced directly to his pioneering accomplishment.

Had he not come forward when he did to promote his animal magnetism concept effectively and widely, the practice and understanding of hypnotism as a therapy could not have made the substantial advances that it did over the span of the nineteenth century. The great progenitors of hypnotherapy in the Victorian Era all followed in the path Mesmer had originally laid out, even though frequently diverging from his interpretations and techniques. It is thus necessary for an understanding of the progress of hypnotism from its revival for modern times by Mesmer, to be acquainted with the vast extent of his influence on Western thinking and views on mental processes.

FQ: You covered several different time periods in your book. How has the public’s perception of hypnotism changed through these times?

Hypnotism has had to wage a long and difficult struggle to gain scientific credibility and acceptance by the medical profession. In the past few decades––although little noticed by the general public or the news media––there has been a growing recognition and use of hypnosis in all of the advanced nations around the globe.

The variety of problems for which hypnosis is useful makes it a healing tool of tremendous importance. Hypnosis is the preferred method in the healing of severe burns. A second degree burn can often be kept from going third degree, if hypnosis is promptly employed. It is an effective treatment for skin conditions, such as itching, eczema, herpes, psoriasis, warts, and many others. It has been used beneficently in the treatment of anorexia, bulimia, and other eating disorders, as well as for gastrointestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome, and colitis. Hypnosis is used in the alleviation of pain in dentistry, in childbirth, and in the relief of chronic pain problems such as arthritis and cancer. It is used successfully in the treatment of anxiety and stress, and in the management of fears and phobias. The employment of hypnosis in treating psychosomatic disorders, and in psychotherapy in general, is now virtually routine.

Hypnotism has thus come of age and is being used more effectively with more people than ever before. The evolution of the many uses of hypnosis is continuing with the promise of even greater achievements in the century ahead.

FQ: Do you have any projects in the works?

Yes, I have just completed a revised and expanded third edition of Hypnosis: The Induction of Conviction, which was first published in 1990. This is a detailed instructional handbook that offers a full comprehensive text that consolidates and clarifies the essentials of the art and craft of hypnotism.

To learn more about
The Illustrated History of Hypnotism, please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


Feathered Quill Book Reviews is pleased to announce a new contest for book lovers.  Every month we are giving away a brand new book to one lucky visitor to our site.  The books are from various genres from mystery to children’s, and all have been reviewed on our site.  An added bonus is that many of the books are signed by the author.  There is absolutely no obligation – you simply have to visit our site, click on the “Free Book” icon on any page, and enter your name/email.  Note that we DO NOT sell our email addresses, in fact we delete them all at the end of each monthly contest.  So please stop by Feathered Quill Book Reviews ( for your chance to win.

Interview with author Peggy Sue Yarber

Today we're sitting down to talk with Peggy Sue Yarber, author of TARE.

FQ: How did you get the idea for TARE? You say it was inspired by a parable in the book of Matthew. Was there also something in the news that triggered the plot?

I guess at times I can be a little bit paranoid. I am not a doomsayer but I do worry when food shortages, droughts and rationing come into the news. There was no exact triggers for the idea for this book about three years ago when I started writing the book. I have been worried that we would somehow contaminate our own food shortage. One thought was that someone would contaminate our own food so that “they” could then reap the benefits of selling an antidote. I am scared to pieces about the hybrid seeds that do not produce seeds. Yes, I do have my own food stock pile and non-hybrid seeds.

FQ: Did you have to do any special research for TARE?

I read science magazines on the idea of laminin. I also read in the science magazine about a suit for soldiers that did many of the same things that my suit does in the book. I constantly read books and magazines on the food, water and soil changes. I am originally from Iowa so the idea of “doping up” our land to produce food has never been something I have understood.

FQ: The townspeople and military are initially at odds, but a few of them gradually come together. Did you see that as an important aspect of the story? Why?

I tried to make as true to life as I could the people of the town. I have led numerous mission trips and I have found that most people do not lead. Most people will follow. In this town I tried to show that when there are no leaders that the people have no one to follow and become scared. I also tried to show that when comforts and some luxury items are kept – that most people are willing to be herded like animals. As long as they have what they view to be their comforts, their privacy and individual rights seem to take a back seat.

FQ: Washington is a fascinating character. How did you see him develop through the story?

Thank you, I was hoping you would find him interesting. He was one of my favorite characters to spend time with. I wanted him to first be seen as a soldier just doing his duty – to the point that he realizes in order to do the right thing he must first do the wrong thing. He is not just another absent-minded follower in the wheel of the government but a single cog that can make a difference. He struggles with his own insecurities of not having a loving family as a child to the point that he demands that his wife sacrifice her career and happiness to allow him and his daughters to be fulfilled. Then he again must struggle with his wife being raped because he was not able to protect her because he was doing his job. He is constantly trying to balance his job and its requirements to the needs of his individual family. Does he sacrifice an entire town for his family? This is a constant question that he is trying to answer throughout the whole book.

FQ: What did you enjoy most about writing TARE? I liked the characters trying to do the right thing in God’s eyes by having to deal with man’s laws.

I wanted to show people that we are our own worst enemy and that we do have the power to change. We can make our world a better place to live. All it takes is one indivudal to break the mold.

FQ: Are there other book projects in the future?

Yes. The Judas Ride to be released in June of 2009 and Rocketship to Heaven and the SOS Fuel Station to be released in June of 2009.

To learn more about TARE, please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Friday, May 22, 2009

New Book Review

We'll be posting another author interview tomorrow.  In the meantime, if you enjoy detective series, please check out the brand new review at Feathered Quill Book Reviews.  The book is Deadly Codes by JP O'Donnell.  It's the second book in the Daniel Gallagher detective series.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Interview with author Julianna Baggott

Today we're excited to chat with Julianna Baggott, author of The Prince of Fenway Park.

FQ: The Red Sox Curse is so well-known. Where did you come up with the idea of putting a different spin on the Curse?

The idea of the Red Sox Curse is well-known, but no one ever put it into a larger context, a full mythology and origin story. Yes, it had to do with Babe Ruth, but who really cursed the Red Sox and why? That's what I wanted to get to the bottom of in The Prince of Fenway Park. And since it's Boston and a Curse, it had to have something to do with Irish folklore which is famous for its curses, didn't it? Howard Bryant's book Shut Out was hugely influencial. Racism was the thing that fed the Curse in many ways all those years, and so The Prince of Fenway Park to address that legacy as well.

FQ: Why the Red Sox? Are you a big Sox fan?

I married a lifelong, diehard Red Sox fan. It has a way of taking over the house -- like a fever. I have four children, all of which are now Red Sox fans, even the two-year-old. It is their legacy.

FQ: There's a lot of references to famous players/games/events in baseball's history. Did you have to do a lot of research?

Yes. It's ironic because, at first, one of the draws to writing this novel was that my husband was a huge resource. I thought I really wouldn't have to do so much research. I'd just lean over and have him tell me the facts. But the novel goes into very sharp detail, and so we had to do a lot of unexpected research. My husband got to go on a behind the scenes tour of Fenway Park -- behind the Green Monster, on the pitchers mound. He was in heaven.

FQ: The Cursed Creatures are loads of fun to read about. Which one was your favorite? Which creature was the most challenging?

The Pooka was my favorite but also the most challenging. He was the greatest mystery and I had to really dig to understand him -- through and through.

FQ: I think a lot of preteens will see themselves in Oscar. What makes the character special to you?

We all feel cursed at some point in our lives. It's unavoidable. And those preteen and teen years are especially hard. But Oscar is resilient as most kids are. I loved writing a character with much to overcome who is so internally strong.

FQ: You touch on a particularly tough subject, that of racisim in baseball's past. Including the author's note touching on this was a great idea. Did you struggle with including the darker side of baseball? Why was it important for you to include the topic?

The story couldn't have been told honestly without it. It would have been a fairytale with no resonance, and the best stories that we tell are the ones that take on our humanity -- all of it -- the beauty as well as the ugliness. To sanitize the past is to undercut the struggles that our African American sports heroes had to endure and overcome. I refused to do that. And I think it's a great opportunity for teachers and parents to open the discussion. Children want to talk about complex issues. They know they're there. So why hide them?

To learn more about The Prince of Fenway Park, please visit our website and read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Interviews Coming!

Interviews will be posted soon.  In the meantime, please visit our site, Feathered Quill Book Reviews (  There are lots of wonderful books listed on our site.  You're sure to find one that you'll love.


Welcome to the new Feathered Quill Book Reviews blog.  We're excited about our new endeavor where we'll be featuring interviews with authors of books that have been reviewed on our site.