Monday, February 16, 2009

Author Interview - Robert B. Bolin Author of The Broken Parachute Man

Tell us a little about yourself:

I am an oncologist that practices general oncology in a small community in southwestern Oregon. I have practiced for over 24 years and have dealt with the pharmaceutical industry as one who prescribes their wares as well as an investigator for their promising products. I was educated at a small religious college, attended medical school at the University of Colorado, and postgraduate work at the University of Miami, University of New Mexico and the National American Red Cross Blood Program. I worked for eight years in the US Army's Medical Research Institute at the Presidio of San Francisco. It was there that I interacted with pharmaceutical companies on drug development and came to appreciate the "politics" involved. I love research, and what has been accomplished in the past thirty years, but it is hard work, high pressure and prone to failure.

What is your book "The Broken Parachute Man" about?
Basically it is a story about greed, the need to always do better and how the pressure can lead to bad decisions. In it, I make the "hero" a less-than-stellar pharmaceutical executive, who dreams of being great, a victim of a conspiracy in his company. He discovers data that, if true, will acknowledge his worth, but on the way to present the story to the FDA, his plane is hijacked and he is captured only to escape by inadvertently falling out as the terrorists get ready to parachute. He spends weeks in the winter mountains and, when rescued, he is accused by authorities as one of the hi-jackers. He escapes again, goes to Las Vegas as a street person. There he meets an HIV positive prostitute, a defrocked alcoholic doctor, a sociopath and a kleptomaniac. They help him solve the mystery through several adventures, including a murder, that takes them to Europe and back to the company's home in Chicago. As the plot unravels, the team realizes they must hurry before others, including patients, are victimized.

What prompted you to begin writing?

This is my second novel. The first was "Unwanted Inheritance" about three generations of a family with a cancer gene and how they deal with it. I have always wanted to write since college but never had the time. When at the Presidio of San Francisco, I wrote several research papers and was guided through the writing process by a wonderful editor who challenged me to go further.

Since 2004, my clinical responsibilities have reduced, and I have time to take writing again. I must say that creative writing is much different that technical writing. I have a new found appreciation of those that write to entertain.

What do you like best about writing? the least?

I enjoy the challenge to create an idea by researching a topic then organizing the information in a way that is creative for someone else's mind. I enjoy the proofing process with editors and critics. I find the process to publish a book overwhelming and frustrating.

What do you think is the one thing that people should know about the medical/pharmaceutical companies that they don't?

The industry is competitive and profit driven. We, as consumers, need to hold them accountable but, at the same time, appreciate what they can do for us.

What do you think your next project will involve?

I already know. It is a novel that has been brewing for years. A historical novel, based on true people, set in a small mining town, circa 1887, called "The Pepperbox Diary". Its theme is prejudice and how three people learn to cope with it. The story has adventure, period medicine and treasure seeking all wrapped up in intrigue.

Was there anything you wished I had asked you about that you couldn't wait to tell me?

That's a loaded question! Actually, yes: is there any truth to the science you present in the novel? Absolutely! The science is based on the ongoing research with chemical signals to cells to tell them to grow or die. This stuff is real and the exciting frontier in cancer treatment in my opinion.

1 comment:

J. Kaye said...

What an interesting author! Great interview. :)