Vaccine Nation Summary: Dani North is a filmmaker who just won at the Tribeca Film Festival for her documentary, The Drugging of Our Children, a film critical of the pharmaceutical industry. When she is handed "whistleblower" evidence about the U.S. vaccination program, she has to keep herself alive long enough to expose it before a megalomaniacal pharmaceutical company CEO can have her killed.
1: What is the most productive time of the day for you to write?
When people ask me when and where I write I usually laugh, because there’s no pattern. When I started writing seriously, about 15 years ago, my investment banking career was in full swing. I got up at 5 a.m., exercised, and then wrote for an hour or so before going to the office for my day job. I’d edit or outline new scenes on planes, in cabs, in conference rooms during breaks in negotiations on deals, anyplace. Today, it’s not much different. I get up, work out, then work. Some days I stay downstairs in the library and dictate on my Dragon software on my PC laptop. Other days I make notes, outline or type on my mac in the library. Sometimes I go up to the attic and work in my writing studio on my mac or Dragon PC software. Or I make notes, edit or draft scenes longhand wherever I am: on the bus to New York, on a chaise lounge by the pool, wherever.
2: Do you start your projects writing with paper and pen or is it all on the computer?
I always start my outlines with pen and paper, but quickly convert them to the computer. My finished outlines are detailed, scene-by-scene outlines. Sometimes I even write dialog into the outline if it comes to me at the time in a way I want to get it down. I do almost all my writing on the computer using Dragon dictation software for the first draft, then edit. I’m also a constant note-jotter on paper.
3: What do you draw inspiration from?
Sometimes it’s someone in my life. Dani North, the protagonist of Vaccine Nation, my latest thriller, was inspired by my fiancé, Manette, and her work as a documentary filmmaker. Elmore Leonard is one of my favorite authors, and reading his stuff frequently gives me ideas. Sometimes it’s just throwing ideas around with friends. Many of them come from my career as an investment banker.
4: Do you set goals for yourself when you sit down to write such as word count?
I try to average 1,000 words per day, which means if I’m not productive every day, I’m playing catch-up on other days. For many writers, that’s peanuts as an objective, but for me, I find it’s a level that allows me to balance discipline with producing quality.
5: Are you a published or a self published author and how do you come up with your cover art?
I started out self-published with my first three books in 2011, Trojan Horse, The Gravy Train and Bull Street. My latest, Vaccine Nation, was published by Amazon’s Thomas & Mercer mystery and thriller imprint. The starting point for my cover art is my father’s photographs. He was an accomplished amateur photographer all his life and left a great legacy of photographs that are unique, beautiful and have great meaning to me. The cover photo for Vaccine Nation was the last picture he ever took. I did a blog entitled Hank Lender’s Photographic Legacy.
6: What drives you to choose the career of being a writer?
I am not sure it’s really a choice. It’s more a compulsion that a writer can’t resist. He/she can put it off, but I think it’s always going to rise inevitably to the surface, like a beach ball being held under water. Sooner or later it pops up.
7: Do you own an ebook reading device?
I own a Kindle, Nook and Kindle Fire.
8: Who are some of your favorite authors and What are you reading now?
I read a lot of Jack London growing up. F. Scott Fitzgerald is my favorite writer and I think The Great Gatsby is the great American novel. Few write with his rhythm, economy (Gatsby is only about 50 thousand words), or mixture of romantic sensitivity and understanding of human depravity. I was an English major, so I read all the big names you might expect. I also admire Hemingway, Joyce, the Bronte sisters, Henry James, Conrad and Steinbeck. Thriller writers who have influenced me are Frederick Forsyth (The Day of the Jackal may be the best thriller ever written), John LeCarre, John Grisham (although I don’t think he’s ever gotten close to The Firm again), Robert Ludlum, Ken Follett, and Thomas Harris. Elmore Leonard is the contemporary author I most admire. Out of Sight is his best, with Get Shorty a close second. Nobody does dialog or backstory like him. And his Ten Rules of Writing should be on every novelist’s desk.
I am reading Russel Blake’s The Geronimo Breach, JA Konrath’s The List and Lee Child’s Bad Luck and Trouble.
9: What do you think of book trailers and do you have any plans to have any?
I think it’s a great idea if done right. I’m thinking about how to go about it. But they’re definitely here to stay.
10: How did you come up with the title of your latest book?
One of my fiancé’s documentaries was entitled Vaccine Nation. A friend of hers, David Slater, came up with the title. I like it because I think it captures the essence of the CDC’s obsessive push to vaccinate, with its National Immunization Program of 14 vaccines administered in 49 doses by age 6.
11: What are you working on now that you can talk about?
I am starting a short story with Sasha Del Mira, the heroine of my first novel, Trojan Horse, as the protagonist. It will be a prequel to Trojan Horse that occurs after the assassination of Prince Ibrahim in the Prologue of Trojan Horse. It will also be a lead-in to my next novel, also a prequel to Trojan Horse, that will follow naturally from the short story. I love Sasha as a character, as do many of my readers, and I look forward to another adventure with her.
I am also working on a memoir, jointly with Manette, my fiancé, and Zac, her son, on Styles, our rescue pitbull we adopted last year. It is great fun, and Styles is a frequently hilarious and always sweet and loveable addition to our lives that we are working hard to capture in our book.
I’ve blogged about Styles, some of which will be in the memoir
David Lender is the bestselling author of the thrillers, Trojan Horse, The Gravy Train, Bull Street and Vaccine Nation. He writes thrillers set in the financial sector based on his over 25-year career as a Wall Street investment banker. He draws on an insider's knowledge from his career in mergers and acquisitions with Merrill Lynch, Rothschild and Bank of America for the international settings, obsessively driven personalities and real-world financial intrigues of his novels. His characters range from David Baldacci-like corporate power brokers to Elmore Leonard-esque misfits and scam artists. His plots reveal the egos and ruthlessness that motivate the players in the business world, as well as the inner workings of the most powerful of our financial institutions and corporations. More background on David and his writing can be found at www.davidlender.net.