Frequently Asked Questions

What’s real in your novels and short stories?
The science is real. I included a real medical mystery (solved in New Mexico in 1990) in Murder...A Way To Lose Weight. The brief descriptions of scientific procedures and processes in all five novels are factual and designed to whet readers’ interest in science.
Bug is real. The rest of the characters, even Tortoise the cat, are fictional.
Most locations are real. The VA Hospital in Albuquerque looks as it is described in Riddled with Clues. The restaurants in Albuquerque in Murder...A Way To Lose Weight, the Witches’ Market in La Paz and the silver mines of Potosí in Ignore the Pain, and the restaurants and research institutes in Havana in Malignancy exist. However, the walled community of La Bendita where Sara lives is fictional.
Historical events are correct. Xave’s memories In Riddled with Clues reflect the actual experiences of a medic based in Udon Thani and participating in the secret war in Laos in the 1960s. The short stories in The Good Old Days? are based loosely on interviews with real people and all historical details are correct.
Do Cuban researchers have a patent for a cancer vaccine?
My tour guide in Cuba in 2013 bragged that the Cubans had patented a drug for cancer. I decided this was a great idea for my next novel and investigated the topic. Researchers at the Center of Molecular Immunology in Havana and scientists in Argentina developed the therapeutic cancer vaccine Racotumomab to treat one type of lung cancer (non-small cell lung cancer). A multicenter clinical trail is now evaluating the drug’s effectiveness. Cancer immunotherapy is a "hot" area of cancer research and new therapies look promising.
Why did Drs. Richard Varegos and Izzy Roth study the effect of gut bacteria on weight loss in Murder...A Way To Lose Weight?
The gastrointestinal tract of a normal human contains about 100 trillion microorganisms, mostly bacteria. Scientists know the bacteria in the guts of normal and of obese subjects differ. Now researchers are studying the impact of gut flora on weight control (Science April 9, 2010 issue). Granted the real scientists are more skilled than Richard Varegos.
Is a flu epidemic, as occurs in Coming Flu, possible?
The Great InfluenzaKawaoka and his lab group at the University of Wisconsin turned H5N1 (an avian flu virus) into one that was transmittable in humans by making only four mutations in a protein on the surface of the virus. (Nature May 2, 2012 issue). The National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity believes that once a flu virus is transmittable among mammals, a worldwide epidemic is possible (Science February 10, 2012 issue).
Flu viruses can be lethal. The flu epidemic of 1918-19 may have killed 100 million people worldwide in a 24-month period. Read The Great Influenza to learn about a severe flu epidemic.
Have you traveled to the exotic locations in your novels?
Yes, and I’ve walked across the roof of the Church of St. Francis above the Witches’ Market in La Paz and wandered about Colon Cemetery in Havana. In the nineties, I consulted at American University of Beirut and American Arab Emirates University in El Ain. (The name of the university has since been changed.)
Are mole rats really used in research on pain?
Yes, and they are as ugly as I describe in Ignore the Pain.
Do you take the advice of readers?
Yes, I added romance and exotic locations to Ignore the Pain, Malignancy, I Saw You in Beirut, and Riddled with Clues. Please suggest other exotic locations for future thriller ( I’m thinking about India.