by Lorie Lewis Ham,
Sandra Murphy & Terell Byrd
In the next of our Road to Left Coast Crime 2012 series we had a chance to chat with mystery author D.P. Lyle and review his latest 2 books–Royal Pains: Sick Rich & his non-fiction book for writers, More Forensics and Fiction—Crime Writers Morbidly Curious Questions Answered. At the end of this post is a chance to win a copy of Sick Rich.
LORIE: How did you come to write More Forensics and Fiction and why?
D.P. LYLE: I have written two other similar books which were titled Murder and Mayhem and Forensics and Fiction, each of which were a collection of some of the best questions I have received from writers over the years. This new one, More Forensics and Fiction is similar in that it is a collection of about 180 new and wild questions from novelists and screenwriters. The hope with each of these books is that writers will find them educational and inspirational. I hope some of the questions and answers spark that little question What If? and from that new stories emerge. I think seeing what other writers are doing and what they are thinking and how they are going about constructing their stories sometimes offers that spark.
LORIE: How is this book different from your past ones for mystery writers?
D.P. LYLE: I don’t think there is a difference as this book is simply the next in my Q&A series. Those who enjoyed the others will enjoy this one and those who read this one will likely want to get copies of the older ones. The questions are unique in each.
LORIE: Do you think it has appeal for the mystery reader?
D.P. LYLE: I think readers like these books because of the interesting details but perhaps more so because it is a glimpse into how the mind of the writer works. And some of the questions are very thought provoking. Mystery readers are among the most intelligent of fiction readers. Mysteries are cleverly plotted and offer glimpses into the world of police investigation and forensic science, and sometimes into the medical and psychological world of the characters. The questions contained in More Forensics and Fiction delve into each of these worlds and I think mystery readers find the information fascinating.
LORIE: How did you come up with the plot for the latest Royal Pains book?
D.P. LYLE: Writing a media tie-in novel is unlike writing any other type of novel. You must deal with the characters as they are and not deviate from their onscreen personas. You must present the setting of the story, in this case the Hamptons, accurately and true to the television series. The studios and the show creators must approve the plots, so outlines must be generated and sent to them. They will then accept or reject what is offered. If it is rejected, another outline must be generated for their approval. It can sometimes be a difficult and laborious process as I’m sure you can imagine. So the plots for each of the two Royal Pains books I have written were generated by me but approved by those higher up the food chain.
LORIE: Will be you writing more of the Royal Pains books?
D.P. LYLE: I had a two book deal for the Royal Pains books and those have been completed. I will not be doing any more as I am too busy with my nonfiction books as well as new books in my Dub Walker and Samantha Cody thriller series. In fact, my next Dub Walker book is titled Run To Ground and will be out this August from Oceanview.
LORIE: What do you like best about each type of writing?
D.P. LYLE: I’m assuming you mean fiction versus nonfiction. I enjoy both. They are similar but basically in the reverse order. With nonfiction you must do all the research, organize it into a logical sequence, and then write the book. With fiction, you might do some research before the writing process begins, but often the story will begin first, and then the research is ongoing as the story unfolds. At least that’s the way I do it.
LORIE: What kind of research did you have to do for both books?
D.P. LYLE: For the Q&A books, the questions themselves dictate what research must be done. For the most part, I know the medicine and forensics that is needed to answer the questions but if not I have an entire library of medical and forensic books as well as the online world to look up what I need to know to accurately answer the questions that the writers present to me. I have always said that I learn as much from researching and answering the questions as I hope the writer learns from my answer.
LORIE: What is next for you?
D.P. LYLE: Actually several things. I have a new book coming out in the next couple of months from the American Bar Association that is titled Aba Fundamentals: Understanding Forensic Science. It is a book on forensic science written specifically for attorneys. I also have a short story that is titled “Even Steven” that will appear in the upcoming International Thriller Writers Association anthology Thriller 3: Love Is Murder. It will be released May 29th and on that date we have planned a mass signing across the United States by all the contributing authors.
LORIE: Besides helping mystery writers, and writing novels—do you still have a day job?
D.P. LYLE: Yes, I still practice cardiology here in Orange County, though only part-time now and only office-based work. No more night call or hospital procedures. This gives me plenty of time to write. I also teach online classes in forensic science for the Master of Criminal Justice Program at DeSales University.
LORIE: What do you like best about Left Coast Crime Conferences?
D.P. LYLE: I love Left Coast Crime because it is a very relaxed and informal conference where you can see old friends and make new friends and where you can hopefully generate new fans for your work. I always find it very relaxed and fun and so I look forward to it each year.
LORIE: What are you looking forward to most this year?
D.P. LYLE: Again, as I said above, mainly spending time with old friends and making new friends. This year my agent Kimberly Cameron will be there, so she and I will spend some time drinking in the bar and discussing all things writing. That’s always fun.
LORIE: What tips would you give those attending their first LCC?
D.P. LYLE: Enjoy the moment. Have fun and don’t be bashful. I think many writers are by nature introverts and feel uncomfortable in groups and feel uncomfortable coming up and talking to an author that they admire. Don’t be bashful. Go up and say hello. Go up and say, “I’m a fan and I would like to meet you.” Don’t be afraid. Most authors are not serial killers, they simply write about them.
More Forensics and Fiction—Crime Writers Morbidly Curious Questions Answered
By D.P. Lyle, MD
Reviewed by Sandra Murphy
Release date April 2012
So, you want to kill off a character by shooting him in the liver but he can’t die for thirty minutes? That’s a problem. What kind of gun, where to aim, how far away to stand—all valid questions and not something you can just call somebody and ask, at least not without drawing uncomfortable attention to yourself.
Dr. Lyle has written a book that answers just that kind of question. With over thirty years of practice in cardiology, he draws on his experience to supply solutions to “Can someone die from inhaling a mercury-laced cigarette?” and “How long could my character survive in an airtight freezer?” He’s consulted on Law & Order, CSI:Miami, Diagnosis Murder, Monk, Judging Amy, Cold Case, House, Medium, Murder Club and The Glades.
Definitely not a book to read while eating or right before bed, the facts and bits of trivia are a fascinating read for anyone who loves a mystery and wonders how writers get the details right. For instance, when asked “If my character was knocked off his motorcycle during a nuclear explosion, far enough away to not be killed outright, what injuries would he have?” Dr. Lyle explains radiation poisoning and then suggests a variant on the idea to make the idea work.
Many of the questions are from writers whose names you’ll recognize. It’s an added bonus to see where the method of murder came from after reading their books.
If you’re a writer and want ideas on how to get rid of characters, this is a great read. If you’re a villain, looking to get away with murder, I’m pretty sure Dr. Lyle also knows how to make sure you get caught.
Royal Pains: Sick Rich By D. P. Lyle
Review by Terell Byrd
Fog and cold are giving way to sunny skies and warm days in the San Joaquin Valley. A perfect time to read the first summer story of the year!
In the first volume of the Royal Pains series (First, Do No Harm) we followed Dr. Hank Lawson through the ups and downs of a concierge practice (where doctors make house calls) against the backdrop of the planning and celebration of a wedding. In this volume we are close to the must-attend party of midsummer in the Hamptons. Nathan Zimmer, a patient of HankMed, is giving a Fourth of July party where his house and all the guests are to be arrayed in the styles of the year 1776.
Daily life is divided between the needs of HankMed’s expanding clientele and Evan R. Lawson’s many projects. Evan (brother to Hank) is consumed by the desire to learn to surf and the fear that he will fail to find the perfect costume for Nathan’s party. Hank and Physician’s Assistant Divya concentrate on making the rounds of current patients and making time for the inevitable emergency cases.
A local health fair would seem to be a break from the hectic routine–just a few scrapes and minor injuries–but there is a sudden epidemic among the community’s teens characterized by glassy eyes, an inability to remember and rapid heart rate. Will Evan be eaten by sharks trying to ride the waves or, worse yet, not be able to find the blue ribbon outfit for the party? Will Dr. Hank be able to find the source of the life threatening symptoms in the high school youth before someone dies? Read the book and find out!
I really enjoyed this volume; it is a great change of pace. The crime in the novel is realistic enough to be cut from the headlines in today’s newspaper. The people in the novel are as recognizable and diverse as your neighbors and friends. Some are wealthy, some poor, most have an income somewhere in between the two extremes. All of the regular patients of HankMed are viewed with affection. D.P. Lyle has a gift for making medical problems fascinating and easy to understand. I always feel a little tension when someone is ill and relief when they recover.
The best fiction makes you feel that you have taken a visit to see friends. I already miss the company of Hank, Evan, Jill, Divya and all the rest. I look forward to my next visit to the Hamptons.
Check out our other On The Road to Left Coast 2012 interviews with mystery author Cindy Sample & and L.F. Crawford, interview with Lee Goldberg, an interview with Michael Orenduff, Carola Dunn, and Juliet Blackwell, along with an article on Left Coast Crime‘s past and present.
To enter to win a copy of Sick Rich, simply email KRL at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Rich”, or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen March 17, 2012. U.S. residents only.
If you love mysteries, why not check out Left Coast Crime: Mystery Conference in Sacramento, March 29-April 1, 2012. Registration is only $225 & day passes can be purchased for $75 for Friday and Saturday panel sessions. Registration information can be found at the conventionwebsite, or by sending an email to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.