[Q&A with the author] In Pain: A Bioethicist’s Personal Struggle with Opioids by Travis Rieder @TNREthx @HarperBooks

I’m very pleased to share a Q&A with Travis Rieder, the author of In Pain: A Bioethicist’s Personal Struggle with Opioids which came out yesterday (18th of June; Harper Books). Let’s get to the Q&A!

Q&A with Travis Rieder

BTP: First of all, thank you so much for taking the time out of your schedule to answer a few questions of mine! As you already know, I’ve very much enjoyed reading In Pain and found it to be well-researched as well as written and engaging. I’ve come up with a few questions that I find to be interesting and may relate to the book as well as some general ones.

Q: Did you always know you were going to write a book (become a writer) or was it something that came spontaneously?

A: That’s a hard question. I’ve loved to write since I was a kid, and I always kind of daydreamed about having something I wrote read by the general public. I idolize good writers, and have longed to publish a trade book for years. As a scholar, though, I’m not exactly trained for that. I spent many (many!) years in graduate school learning precision and rigor in writing, which can often lead to prose that is, well, boring. So I’ve successfully published for years, but I still didn’t consider myself a writer.

After my motorcycle accident, I slowly came around to the idea of writing a popular book. I didn’t go straight there, though. I wrote a well-regarded scholarly article, and eventually pitched the book to an academic press. They told me that I really should find an agent and pitch to a trade press, because my story—which I wanted to use to push along some important lessons about pain and opioids—was compelling enough to warrant wider distribution. So I ended up giving it a try.

To be honest, though, I was totally unsure it would ever happen. It seemed too far and too foreign. I’m completely thrilled that I eventually found my way and am getting to share this book with a bigger audience than academic publishing affords.

Q: How long did it take you to write this book? Did you find anything particularly challenging while writing it?

A: In some sense, I began writing In Pain while still in the hospital. Family and friends told me to record what was happening—maybe for pragmatic reasons (remembering facts that might be necessary when dealing with insurance, for example) and maybe for therapeutic reasons (it would help me to process my trauma). I’m very glad they did, as both were true. I would have forgotten nearly everything if I hadn’t done the writing, as both drugs and trauma are very good for erasing memories. It also did make me feel better to put on paper how I saw the events unfolding; it gave me a sense of control.

So if you date it from the hospital, it took about three years. The most active period, though, after I found an agent and then once we sold the book to HarperCollins, lasted about 15 months.

Q: I’m interesting in the process of writing In Pain, did you write it every day or did you take breaks?

A: Related to my previous answer: there were lots of breaks in the beginning, when I didn’t know who I was writing for (or even whether I would ever be willing to publicly share my story). Once I knew that the book would happen, and then even more when I negotiated deadlines with the publisher, I tended to write on a schedule. During the school year, when I was teaching and mentoring my graduate students, I wrote about 3-4 days per week—always at night, typically after my daughter and partner went to bed. 9pm-12pm was the time slot when the vast majority of the book was drafted. During the summer, I wrote every weekday—still at night, but adding early morning writing if I could carve it out from my other research.

Q: How did you find the research process for In Pain? Was it fun and interesting?

A: I absolutely adored every aspect of writing a book. It’s the most satisfying thing I’ve done in my professional life. The writing of my story was profoundly therapeutic; I feel like I took this pain and suffering, pulled it out of myself, and locked it into the pages. Turning in the final revisions felt like saying goodbye to self-pity. And the research aspect was just delightful fun. I got to think of how best to tell stories about the ideas I wanted to convey, which is not how academic writing happens. I would run drafts past my agent or editor, and they’d constantly say, “Travis, you’re being an academic in this section.” Looking to where they pointed, I’d immediately understand, and go back to the drawing board. I loved this process of finding the best way to communicate a complex idea, and every time I got feedback, I felt like I got closer to really being a writer.

Q: While reading In Pain I stumbled upon something – when you write examples for certain situations you use ‘she’ while generally people use ‘he’ when they write something like the following: If he goes to the clinic to take meds…Was this something that was intentional?

A: Yup. It’s a habit from my feminist intellectual upbringing. There’s absolutely no reason to use ‘he’ exclusively except for an invisible cultural framework that allows ‘man’ to stand in for ‘human’. In the very near future, I expect it will be nearly universally acceptable to use ‘they’ as a non-gendered singular pronoun, and then I won’t have to make a point of using the feminine. But until then, if the rules of writing require picking a gender, I’ll choose to counter the backdrop of patriarchal influence.

Q: I’m sure there are people who will be left with wanting more after reading In Pain, could you recommend some books with a similar topic?

A: Absolutely! In no particular order, and on various themes that my book deals with: Beth Macy’s Dopesick, Sam Quinones’s Dreamland, Maia Szalavitz’s Unbroken Brain, Barry Meier’s Pain Killer, Carl Hart’s High Price, Johann Hari’s Chasing the Scream.

Q: What are some of your favourite books and what are you reading at the moment?

A: Favorite books—what a hard question! I’d have to say Paul Kalanithi’s When Breath Becomes Air, Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal (along with most anything else he writes), everything David Sedaris, and on the fiction side, every single one of Kurt Vonnegut’s books.

At the moment, I’m reading Lloyd I. Sederer’s The Addiction Solution, Jonathan Metzl’s Dying of Whiteness, David Wallace-Wells’s The Uninhabitable Earth, and Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime. All very different books, and all good and interesting.

BTP: Thank you very much, Travis!

Travis: Thanks so much for reading and reviewing the book, and for inviting this Q&A—it’s been a real joy!

As I’ve mentioned at the beginning of this post – Travis’ book came out yesterday and it’s such a fascinating and well-researched one! I will leave a link to my review of his book here.

Add ‘In Pain: A Bioethicist’s Personal Struggle with Opioids‘ to your TBR:  

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**I am in no way compensated by these sites. I am simply sharing it so people can find this book easier.

Travis Rieder was born and raised in Indiana, after which he has slowly and steadily moved eastward. After completing his BA at Hanover College in southern Indiana, he moved to South Carolina to do an MA in philosophy. He then did a PhD in philosophy at Georgetown University before taking a faculty position at Johns Hopkins, where he currently teaches.

Travis’s writing is wide-ranging, but took a sharp turn in 2015 after a motorcycle accident and a traumatic experience with pain and pain management that resulted. Since that experience, he has worked to turn his intimate struggle with opioid painkillers into a research program and a mission to reduce harm from irresponsible prescribing. IN PAIN, published by HarperCollins in June 2019, combines his personal story with fascinating and disturbing facts about the history of pain and opioid use, the American healthcare system, and suggestions for how the tide can be turned on the interlocking epidemics of pain, opioids, and addiction.

Find him on: Website, Twitter and Goodreads.

[BLOG TOUR: Q&A] The Body in the Castle Well by Martin Walker #BodyInTheCastleWell @QuercusBooks @MillsReid11

I’m very pleased to share with you a Q&A with Martin Walker, the author of The Body in the Castle, the newest book in the Bruno, Chief of Police series!

SYNOPSIS:

A rich American art student is found dead at the bottom of a well in an ancient hilltop castle. The young woman, Claudia, had been working in the archives of an eminent French art historian, a crippled Resistance war hero, at his art-filled chateau.

As Claudia’s White House connections get the US Embassy and the FBI involved, Bruno traces the people and events that led to her death – or was it murder?

Bruno learns that Claudia had been trying to buy the chateau and art collection of her tutor, even while her researches led her to suspect that some of his attributions may have been forged. This takes Bruno down a trail that leads him from the ruins of Berlin in 1945, to France’s colonial war in Algeria.

The long arm of French history has reached out to find a new victim, but can Bruno identify the killer – and prove his case?

Q&A 

Q: How long did it take you to write this book and was the writing process hard compared to your previous works?

A: The first draft took about 4 months, after 2 or 3 months planning and research which is about the usual pattern. This was a little easier than most books because I knew the site of Limeuil so well.

Q: How often do you write?

A: Every day, either a wine column or or some other journalism and for the new cookbook or a non-Bruno novel. As a journalist most of my life I am accustomed to writing every day.

Q: Did you always know you were going to write a book (become a writer) or was it something that came spontaneously?

A: I already knew from childhood that I wanted to write. I used to follow my mum around the house reading out to her poems or little stories I had written.

Q: Do you relate to the main character Bruno?

A: I wish I could cook and play tennis as well as he does. But although he was inspired by my village policeman, who is also my tennis partner, Bruno is an invention but I always liked the idea of a friendly and helpful policemen who see himself as a good neighbour as well as a cop.

Q: I love the title The Body in the Castle Well – were there any alternatives or were you set on this title from the beginning?

A: I’m never good with titles so my UK editor chose it, my working title was ‘the girl in the castle well’.

Q: What are some of your favourite books and what are you reading at the moment?

A: I always love Sherlock Holmes and Maigret, I am currently reading Adam Roberts on Napoleon and Gegard Fayolle’s ‘Les Trentes Glorieuses’.

Q: Do you have a routine of writing at a certain time for a couple of hours or do you do it spontaneously?

A: Once I start writing a book I have to write 3 pages – or 1000 words – every day until I am done.

Q: What authors have influenced you and made you fall in love with reading and eventually writing books?

A: Conan Doyle, Chandler, le Carre, Carlyle, Dickens, Mailer, Saul Bellow and Trollope.

Thank you s much to Martin as well as the publisher for making this Q&A possible!

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Martin Walker is the U.S. bureau chief for The Guardian (London), a regular commentator for CNN, and a columnist for newspapers in the United States, Europe, and Moscow. A published novelist and poet, he lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife, the novelist Julia Watson, and their two daughters.

Find him on: Website and Goodreads.

[REVIEW+Q&A] Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed #GatherBook @littlebrown

Let me begin this review by saying that ever since I saw the cover and read the synopsis of this book back in January I have been obsessed with it. This is just one of those books you want to own and read and look at the pretty cover for days. Sadly my physical ARC of this book never arrived but I got it in e-form. Usually when I’m excited about a book I get disappointed in some way but this one was so great and amazing that I couldn’t put it down!

The story alternates between four different points of views we have Vanessa, Amanda, Janey and Caitlin. They live on a secluded island where everything is not what it seems – men and women, boys and girls have their lives set out for them. Their purpose is to marry, have children, raise children and when the children are all grown up and parents no longer of use they get removed from society. The island and its inhabitants follow certain written rules: much like we have a Bible or other religious texts they have one too called Our Book where there are rules and restrictions which have to be respected called Shalt-Not’s. The society is created by ten ancestors who are to be worshiped and praised for creating this world where the lives of the inhabitants are blessed and safer from the rest of the world (if there is a rest of the world). The ancestors have set ten Wanderers (men chosen by the ancestors) to take care of the society and help better it by overlooking the positions and roles everyone has on the island. Here comes the exciting part [that is if you’re not already hooked by my description of the book]: In the summer children are let go to live wild and care-free while the adults are indoors. They call this period Summer of Fruition where children fight for food and sleep in the grass and rarely return home for the whole time. To slightly older girls this is the last summer before they become a woman who has to get married and bare a child and serve her purpose for the sake of their glorified community. But not everyone wants to be a woman yet and the horrifying sighting by one girl lights a shimmering fire in the hearts of others.

What can I say except that this was an utterly and completely captivating book from the writing to the author’s imagination. The story itself is brilliantly thought of and very well executed –  there were a few things that come with every debut which weren’t exactly to my taste  – but overall it was unlike anything I have ever read. The themes in this book are dark and that makes the book not suited for every kind of reader but for those who love dark things this will be a perfect read.

To anyone reading this review I URGE you to head over to your local bookshop/online bookshop and purchase yourself a copy of this one! I know I will! ALSO: The US cover is 100x better than the UK one OK! The most amazing cover I’ve seen in a while and it’s definitely worth owning and showcasing.

I would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher (Little Brown US) for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

My rating: 

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Jennie Melamed is a psychiatric nurse practitioner who specializes in working with traumatized children. During her doctoral work at the University of Washington, she investigated anthropological, biological, and cultural aspects of child abuse. Melamed lives in Seattle with her husband and three Shiba Inus.

Find her on:  WebsiteFacebook, Twitter, Instagram and Goodreads

Click continue reading to read my interview with the author. Continue reading

[REVIEW + Q&A with the author] Ragdoll by Daniel Cole

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I decided to request this book from Edelweiss because it looked very appealing + had an interesting storyline and to my great luck I got approved! First the Final Girls by Riley Sager and now this one!

This debut from Daniel Cole follows not just one character but quite a few – even though Detective William Fawkes is at the center of the book – interesting characters. Detective William Oliver Layton-Fawkes called ‘The Wolf’ has just got back to his position as a detective after being suspended for four years because of an incident that happened at the trial of ‘The Cremation Killer’. This trial along with the serial killer Naguib Khalid was the most shocking media covered trial in London. The reason behind William’s suspension was his unprofessional outburst in court. Along with his career went his personal life, his marriage with a gorgeous journalist Andrea and his interpersonal relationships.

William gets called to a crime scene by Detective Emily Baxter – his old friend and partner from the days when he was a detective – and when he gets to the crime scene which was situated right across his apartment he comes upon a bizzare and gory sight – unlike any he has seen before – it is six body parts attached to each other with an arm pointing to his apartment. From this point on Fawkes begins to suspect that this has something to do with him. His ex-wife Andrea receives an anonymous list of names  – a hit list – that contains dates of the victims’ doom days but what strikes her as odd is that the last person on the list is her ex-husband Detective William Fawkes.  She makes sure that Fawkes gets the list and the detectives Emily Baxter and her trainee partner Alex Edmunds start working on figuring out who the killer is and why these murders are happening. This is the moment when Fawkes realises that his past might be what’s pushing the ‘Ragdoll’ killer to commit these murders.

First of all I must say that Cole’s writing and switching between narratives is what I look for in books. I always try and figure out what is going on in the characters’ head and this book gives a great insight into that. Once you start reading it you just can’t stop. William Fawkes was a very well crafted character along with his backstory which played a huge part in the novel. Cole gives a voice to many other characters (e.g. Andrea – Williams’ ex-wife was a refreshing character because we got to see the things from the perspective of the media and not just the POV of the police)  in the book which I highly appreciate.  This book made me laugh with characters’ funny comments and it made me scared for the victims. The executions of the victims were very interesting because of the ways the author did them. The ending could’ve been done better but I guess it needed to end that way because without it there wouldn’t be a sequel.  Cole has a way of pulling the reader into the story and not letting go of them until the very end. There will be two more novels in the future which I am very much looking forward to read! The TV series based on this novel is in the works and I hope that they stay true to the book and don’t ruin it.

Ragdoll’ is an engaging, funny, filled with plot twists kind of a thriller which everyone can enjoy.

Thank you to Edelweiss, Harper Collins: Ecco and Daniel Cole for granting me a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

My rating: ratingstarratingstarratingstarratingstar

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**I am in no way compensated by these sites. I am simply sharing it so people can find this book easier.

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At 33 years old, Daniel Cole has worked as a paramedic, an RSPCA officer and most recently for the RNLI, driven by an intrinsic need to save people or perhaps just a guilty conscience about the number of characters he kills off in his writing.

He has received a three-book publishing and television deal for his debut crime series which publishers and producers describe as “pulse-racing” and “exceptional”.

Daniel currently lives in sunny Bournemouth and can usually be found down the beach when he ought to be writing book two in the Nathan Wolfe series instead.

Ragdoll is his first novel.

Find him on:  Website (publisher),  Twitter,  GoodReads

 Click below to read my interview with the author.

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