Had a conversation today with the book cover design folks at my publisher. We discussed some exciting ideas for WILDFIRE. I expect to see some preliminary concepts from them in about a week. I'd enjoy sharing those concepts on this blog, but the software will no longer allow insertion of photos with the text--so I guess I'll make cover design choices myself and readers will have to wait for publication in late November to see the result.
I am moving ahead with independent publication of WILDFIRE. It's an exciting medical thriller about Jeremy Becker, a New Orleans medical student who is infected by HIV as a result of a needle stick accident while working with a hemophiliac patient at Charity Hospital in the late 1980s. Fear of the spreading AIDS epidemic leads to political over-reaction which creates a new kind of segregation based upon mandatory HIV blood tests. The new law, called Health Protection Act of 1989, also appropriates millions to create regional research facilities, one of them located in New Orleans, to speed up efforts to eradicate the AIDS epidemic spreading like a wildfire across the nation.
Unfortunately, greed-driven men in positions of power sabotage the research for their own financial gain. Their scheme threatens the lives of Jeremy and his roommate until, finally they recruit the FBI to help them track down the subversive operatives who include senior leaders of the hospital and members of Congress.
The novel is expected to be ready for release in November. Stay tuned.
A great weekend in Austin at the 21st annual Writers' League of Texas Conference included many helpful breakout sessions, an inspiring keynote address, and good interactions with many other writers. Best news of all is that a New York based literary agent expressed interest in WILDFIRE, and asked to see part of the manuscript. I've sent a synopsis and fifty pages for his consideration--hopefully he'll ask for more after he reads those pages.
The synopsis I sent to New York is included below for your preview:
WILDFIRE is a novel about fear. Fear that was prevalent in the late 1980s—fear of the poorly understood AIDS epidemic that was spreading across the nation like a wildfire. The novel tells the story of Jeremy Becker, a medical student infected by the AIDS virus, HIV, as the result of a needle stick accident in a New Orleans hospital in 1987. Widespread fear of the spreading AIDS epidemic triggers political overreaction that creates a dystopian world in which segregation is reborn—segregation based upon mandatory HIV blood tests. This bizarre segregation law provides automated machines that require insertion of one’s HIV card to enter many public buildings, including hospitals, clinics, and medical offices. In that strange world that never was, but might have been, Jeremy advances through a surgery residency at New Orleans Charity Hospital. The new law does have one good element. It provides unprecedented funding for Nobel-quality AIDS research that fuels Jeremy’s hope for a life without the ever-present specter of AIDS. But that hope is frustrated by men in positions of power who are driven by greed to sabotage the AIDS research for their own personal gain. Their scheme causes the deaths of hospital patients, even threatens the lives of Jeremy and his roommate until, finally, they recruit the FBI to help them expose the nefarious plot. Years later, Jeremy is invited to present the keynote address at a World AIDS Conference. He tells of his life during a time of extreme political manipulation of health care. He recounts a dark time in the annals of medicine and challenges researchers to craft a renaissance of hope for the worldwide millions affected by the scourge of HIV-AIDS.
The HBO film presentation of Larry Kramer's THE NORMAL HEART has many thinking again about the worldwide implications of the HIV epidemic. An accident of timing has allowed my novel, WILDFIRE to be completed this same week. WILDFIRE tells the fictional story of a medical student who is infected with HIV by an accidental needle stick injury in a New Orleans hospital in the late 1980s. Public fear of the poorly understood AIDS epidemic, perceived in those years as spreading like a wildfire all across the nation, becomes political fear that results in a law intended to limit transmission of HIV by imposing a new kind of segregation.
This neo-segregation is based upon one's HIV status, and it is enforced for every bar, hotel and motel, every health club, hospital, clinic and medical office. Entry is regulated for all public places where politicians believe transmission of the virus might occur. In this dystopian world young Jeremy Becker, the infected medical student, pursues his dream of becoming a surgeon. But first he must deal with life-threatening mystery, unexplained deaths of hospital patients, and leading edge HIV research sabotaged by greedy politicians who divert federal funds to their personal use.
WILDFIRE will be presented at the Writers' League of Texas Agents/Authors Conference in Austin in late June. If the novel doesn't capture the interest of a major publisher at that conference, I plan to publish it for release later this year on World AIDS Day.
The Kindle edition of HUSH, BOY will be on sale this weekend via amazon.com, beginning at $1.99 on Friday, May 9 and increasing each day until Tuesday, May 13, when it returns to the full price of $9.99. Here's a big chance to get an exciting novel about the sorrows and the joys of growing up in the Deep South in the 1930s and 40s at rock-bottom prices. Reminder: If you don't have a Kindle device, consider the free Kindle reader available from amazon.com which can be installed on any computer or portable device to allow downloading and reading Kindle books.
I've been back at home working on WILDFIRE for a while, but I'm unable to link any photos of the Etruscan trip to this blog for some reason. Sorry about that--I really wanted to share some of the great sights. Learned more than I ever thought known about the Etruscans. Visited many (maybe most) Etruscan sites between Rome and Florence, including the best of the best museums of Etruscan antiquities.
An astonishing, non-Etruscan site visit was a fine tour of the Antonori winery, producer of the best Chianti Classico in all of Italy. Their new winery has been open only a few months, though the house is many generations old. It's a model of eco-friendly construction: built entirely underground beneath a vineyard and not visible from the passing roadway. Modern in every way, including a fine restaurant on the roof which is the only above-ground structure of the complex.
In Florence, and after returning to Rome, we abandoned the Etruscans and gave attention to some relics of the Roman Empire and the Medicis. An interesting distraction was the Rome Marathon, which happened to take place in the city streets on the same day we'd planned to visit the Coliseum. Thousands of runners and spectators made it difficult to cross the streets in that neighborhood.
I'll have to give up on trying to add photos to these posts. This Blogger is not helpful. WILDFIRE is moving right along. I'm now in the final editing stages and hoping for release on December 1, which is World AIDS Day. Remember the chapter I shared a while back...about a medical student who was infected with HIV in the late 1980s as a result of a needle stick accident in a New Orleans hospital. It's an exciting novel. I'll share more of it as we move closer to the publication date.