Author Q&A About The Pumpkin Eater

Q.  What is the book about?

A.  This novel is a fast-paced mystery about the mass murders of young women during the 1920s and the clandestine efforts of believers to protect their actions and the secrets of the past. The protagonist, Sam Dawson, stumbles across two identical epitaphs on identical tombstones in two different states – Iowa and Colorado where most of the story takes place.  He also stumbles across a picture on a tombstone of a woman who resembled his sister – who was killed 25 years ago.  These discoveries lead him on a mission to find out what had happened.  Without giving away the full story, Sam uncovers a secret organized effort to control the genetic makeup of people. This is the first book in the Sam Dawson Mystery series.

Q. Why did you write the book?

A. As with most novelists, I write to entertain and to share my thoughts on a particular subject with the reader.  A novel should stimulate an emotional response by the reader, educate them and leave them with something to think about long after the book is finished.

Q.  What is the take-home message of this book?

A. Writers are often urged to write what should not be forgotten.  Remembering the forgotten errors of history cannot correct the past.  Rather, it may prevent flawed decisions in the future.

Q.  The novel exposes this country’s involvement in the eugenics movement in the early part of the Twentieth Century.  How wide-spread was this movement?

A.  It was a very wide-spread campaign that affected generations of Americans.

Q.  Sam Dawson is not a private investigator or in law enforcement.  Why would he bother to pursue such a complex crime?

A.  Sam possesses both innate curiosity and a strong desire to expose the truth.  In his former career, he was press secretary to a narcissistic governor who demanded journalistic spin.  He quit so he could live a more truthful life as a photo journalist.  When Sam discovers the identical epitaphs on identical tombstones a thousand miles apart, he is driven to discover the truth and to seek justice for those unable to speak for themselves.

Q. Where did you get your ideas for writing this book?

A. I was sitting bored in an airport waiting for the perpetually delayed flight when I discovered that almost everybody I saw looked like someone I was familiar with.  These shared physical traits led me to believe that our gene pool is limited and we all share common ancestors.  I coupled this concept with a newspaper story about a gynecologist/obstetrician who was personally impregnating his patients.

Q.  A Sam Dawson mystery implies we haven’t heard the last from this protagonist.  Who is he and what’s next?

A. Fictional characters can mimic real life by being complicated and troubled.  Sam is an antihero, a kind of protagonist who is flawed; he disturbs the reader with his weaknesses while being portrayed sympathetically.  Readers can identify with Sam because he magnifies the frailties most of us experience.  Kirkus Reviews summed up Sam this way:  “Divorced, no close friends, obsessed with his career, and only a dog for companionship.”  Readers can expect several more mysteries in this series…”this is a smart start to a new detective series.” – Kirkus Reviews.