Interview with Thomas Keech

Interview with Thomas Keech

What genre do you write and why?
All my novels are set in the present day in the U. S., and they all explore some aspect of life here, so I guess you could them Contemporary American novels. Having said that, they are all very different, ranging from comedic political satire to teenage desperation to twenty-somethings searching for a path in life to my current novel, which explores the psychology of physicians who prey upon their patients and the effects of these assaults on the patients themselves.
I write what I think needs to be said about each situation, and what I need to say is always different. As a result, none of my novels are anything like any of the others.  I dont think this has helped me financially, because if you like one of my books theres no guarantee you will like the next book. But I really dont want to write the same book over and over with different characters names. Im trying instead to be more creative and to explore more and more of this crazy world of ours. 

Interview with Thomas Keech
Tell us about your latest book.
Its called Doc Doc Zeus: A Novel of White Coat Crime. The story is told through the eyes of the three main characters.
Doctor Zeus is a successful physician, but theres nothing else good about him. He cheats on his wife, degrades his mistress, stiffs his partners, defrauds insurance companies. Worst of all, he is a lifelong misogynist who has the power to act out his antagonism on his female patients.
The main protagonist of the story is a suburban teenager, Diane. Diane gave birth to a baby girl at fourteen, but at sixteen she is still seeing Dr. Zeus as her gynecologist almost weekly even though she suspects there is something strange about these visits. She has lost her bearings after giving up her baby girl for adoption. Shes lost her faith in her church and she cant connect with her old friends.  Dr. Zeus acts so kind and understanding she thinks they are becoming deep friends, but this is just the beginning of a seduction that gradually becomes more abusive.
David Green is a novice investigator for the medical board. He learns that the board is aware of what Dr. Zeus is doing but cannot do anything about it. He wants to be a power player in the world like his wealthy law student girlfriend, but his student loans are dragging him down. He is so frustrated at the boards impotence and his own unimportance that he takes a potentially dangerous shortcut in his investigation.
Who is you favourite character in your book and why?
Diane, the teenager who turns out to be much more that a victim, is my favorite character. At the end of one of my previous books she was fourteen, pregnant, refusing to marry her boyfriend, and unsure of what to do. She was just a minor character in that book, but I couldnt just leave her hanging out there that way.
Even in her minor role in that novel she had the strength, resilience and sense of humor to make you feel that she was probably going to carry it off.  So I decided to watch her carry it off. And she probably would have done it without too much drama if she hadnt run into Dr. Zeus at her lowest point. Knowing what I knew about Dr. Zeus, I knew he would be her greatest challenge, and I wanted to see how she would do against him.

Are you a plotter or a pantser? 
I always start off as a panster.  Im always hoping at first the plot and characters and ideas will just flow from some scene that just pops into my head. But it never works, and after about three or four months I realize theres no conflict here, or the characters dont seem real, theres no plot that will hold anyones attention, or all of the above.
Then I think about the characters, their motivations, the likely progression of the story, and how I can get any reader to give a damn about what happens next. I get a lot of suggestions from my writing group, and I take a lot of them. I begin again. Repeat. Begin again. Repeat until I am absolutely sure that this is the absolute best I can do on this subject. Then I give it to my proofreaders who point out a million idiotic things that are still wrong in the manuscript; then I do it again

What did you edit out of this book?
Dr. Zeus may be a master manipulator, but he has the narcissistic tendency to forge ahead without thinking about the consequences. At one point he is on the verge of losing his marriage, his profession, his business interests and even the love of his daughter.
I wrote a scene where the pressures got so great he tried to run over his wife with his beloved antique Jaguar.  It was a fun scene to write, but on second thought I realized this was not the kind of thing a narcissist like him would do.  He would be way too smart for that. What he would do is raise the stakes by damaging his wife emotionally.

Interview with Thomas Keech
What formats is the book available in?
The book is available worldwide as an e-book, including at Kindle, Nook, Cobo and iBooks. Its available also in paperback and hardback editions.

Who designed the cover?
Vanessa Snyder designed and did the artwork for my last three novels. She is an artist in Toledo, Ohio, who mostly does fine art. Vanessa has stooped to do book covers for me just as a favor to an old friend. Her covers have always earned more praise than the texts of my books and rightly so.

How do you research your books?
I dont research at all before I start. Im always thinking I want to catch some feeling or moment in time and that what I put down has to be original and not derived from any outside source.  Using this method, I make stupid mistake after stupid mistake, and when my writing group friends point this out to me I go back and research where I was so off base. I learn a lot this way, basically stumbling forward blindly and then researching the point I was talking about and finding out I was dead wrong and starting over again. This is a hard way to do it, and I dont recommend it, but it seems like the only I can get started.

How do you select the names of your characters?
Thats a fun question. Sometimes I actually do it just for fun. In Prey for Love, I gave the selfish, heartless mother the name of one of my nicest nieces, a niece whose personality couldnt be more the opposite. At other times I make them up out of thin air. In Hot Box in the Pizza District, I thought I had made up an original name, Dory, only to be told later that Dory was a character in numerous Disney films and was known to everybody under the age of forty. Sometimes I put in a name just as a placeholder, as I did for Tim in Hot Box, and I grow to like it and the name just sticks. As the smartypants omniscient author of The Crawlspace Conspiracy, I sometimes gave the characters names that hinted obviously at their personalities, as in the State Senator Samuel Slip Slidell. 

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Stop trying to write the Great American Novel and settle for writing one fairly decent American novel.


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