Tangled lives, tainted love, and a Shakespearean twist lead to deception, betrayal, and murder. In this sexy, psychological thriller, Eurasian beauty Mai Faca plots to marry Jake Warden, a successful oral surgeon forbidden to her because of family honor. In an unheard-of scheme, fellow surgeon, Bret Manley, falls victim to Mai's seduction as she and Jake play a cruel trick to be together. Jake acts with surgical precision to clear the path to Mai's happiness, threatening lives including his own. In a wake of turmoil and destruction, Bret's uncle and well-known criminal attorney Hubie Santos attempts to find out if a surgeon would use his knowledge to kill.
Donald R. Grippo, DDS practiced oral and maxillofacial surgery in northeastern Connecticut for more than thirty years. On a daily basis, he encountered patient's fear of undergoing oral surgery and associated anesthesia. To help allay such fear he wrote A Guide to the Guy or Gal Who Takes Your Teeth Out, a series of short stories dealing with the treatment of typical oral surgical problems. His resume includes working as a dentist at the Tennessee State Prison outside of Nashville and as a guard at the Hartford State Jail on Syms Street in Hartford.
I was very fortunate to sit down and have an interview with Donald, here's what he told me.
Where are you from originally?
I was born and raised in Enfield, Connecticut. Although I’ve resided in many places e.g. New York City, Syracuse, New York, and Nashville, TN, I’ve spent most of my life in Connecticut in places such as Windham Center and Mystic.
What books and authors have influenced your writing?
There are many. Some are:
Patricia Cornwell / Postmortem: The first of the Kay Scarpetta series. I like the way Cornwell combines mystery, murder, and medicine.
James Michener / Caribbean: Educates and entertains by mixing fiction and non-fiction.
Stephen King / On Writing: In addition to being impressed by his struggle to become a writer, I learned a great deal about writing technique from the book.
P.D. James / Cover Her Face: She wrote thirteen novels with her detective character, Adam Dalgliesh in them. An amazing feat. The second novel of my Bret Manley series (Revenge Best Served Bloody) is in the hands of my editor.
I appreciate the difficulty of maintaining a character in several novels.
Is there an author you would really like to meet?
Stephen King. I came from a similar humble background as King did. I admire his ability to overcome obstacles on his strive for success.
Tell us a little about your background. When did you start writing?
I began my first novel when I was in high school after a literature teacher said I had a talent for writing. Over the years I began and discarded several works, some after hundreds of pages. In 2007 I published A Guide to the Guy or Gal Who Takes Your Teeth Out-eight short stories about various oral and maxillofacial surgical problems-that was a response to questions a child patient of mine asked. It was written for older children and young adults although the message was applicable to all adults. The book was meant to allay fear associated with having oral and maxillofacial surgery. The feedback I received from parents and readers provided the impetus I needed to continue my writing. To Sleep…Perchance to Die was the first result.
Where do you get your ideas?
Mostly from life experiences. As much as possible, I incorporate what I know into my writing. News organizations and the internet also help. The plot of Revenge Best Served Bloody, the sequel to To Sleep…Perchance to Die, came from the answer to a question one of my Syracuse University geography professors posed. The question was: Where in the U.S. would the detonation of one nuclear bomb do the most economic damage?
I like to combine fact with fiction in my writing in the hope of entertaining and enlightening the reader.
How long did it take you to complete To Sleep…Perchance to Die?
Approximately a year and a half. In the beginning, I was taking writing courses, reading how-to books, joined the Florida Writers Association, and attended writer’s meetings and seminars. The more I learned, the more rewriting was required. A sort of on the job training.
Are any of your characters based on real-life friends or acquaintances?
In To Sleep…Perchance to Die there was one non-fictional character who was portrayed in a fictional manner. That was Hubert (Hubie) Santos who is a well-known Connecticut criminal attorney.
As for my other characters, most are composites of friends, work associates, patients I’ve treated, and jail or prison inmates with whom I’ve dealt.
Before I write about a character, I develop him or her in my mind and on the computer until I know every aspect of the person and how she or he is likely to react in a given situation. Because of my background in psychology, the psychological make-up of my characters is important, and I take the time to convey that make-up to the reader.
Do you ever incorporate yourself into your characters?
Bret Manley and Jake Warden have aspects of myself in them. Especially, Bret.
Tell us about your cover. Did you design it yourself?
That honor belongs to my wife, Pauline. The idea and design was hers. It is the eye of Mai Faca who is without doubt the most important character in the novel. Within the eye are the two surgeons Mai controls.
Paulie has received many glowing comments about the cover. She also designed the cover of my sequel, Revenge Best Served Bloody, and I feel she will get accolades for it.