BK: Looking out the nearest window, describe the scene you see.
Peter: I have to crane my neck because my desk is angled so that my ADD can’t get the best of me, but I have a beautiful large window that runs up two stories of my home. In the evening sky, a Southwest Airline plane is on its final approach to Love Field. Meanwhile, out by the grassy lot across my house, a spindly man in a sweat-speckled pink shirt and lime-green Bermuda shorts is un-wrapping a plastic bag while the white poodle at the end of his leash squats straining. If I keep looking out for any period of time, a car will come up the one-way street the wrong way: an occurrence that is so frequent you can almost set your watch by the honking of car horns.
BK: Tell us about your office. Is it a mess like mine, or is everything in its place?
Peter: My desk had been pretty messy for the last 4 years. I tidied it up about a month ago. Now I have a mess under my bed.
BK: What is a must-have, such as coffee or a favorite pen, that you need to write?
Peter: I don’t drink coffee while I write. I use it as a reward when I take my breaks. My favorite pens are those I take from hotel rooms – they’re surprisingly good nowadays. The only whim I treat myself to is Mole Skin notebooks for my first draft. Just the feel of the paper beckons me to write.
BK: Do you like to write in silence, or do you need music or background noise?
Peter: I seldom listen to music when I write though I made some exceptions for my novel, The Art of Forgetting. Several scenes featured a Russian laboratory technician who was a great aficionado of Chopin nocturnes. Listening to the music helped me pace these scenes and get in the right mood. Otherwise, I write in the relative quiet of my house, which is not very quiet thanks to my twelve year old blue-and-gold macaw.
BK: Tell us a bit about your hero, and their development.
Peter: Dr. Lloyd Copeland is a young neurologist who is tormented and emotionally detached. He believes his fate is to succumb to the pernicious early-onset dementia that has ravaged his family for generations and which led his father to commit suicide. When he’s not working on his obsession – finding a cure for memory loss and dementia – he tries to fill the emotional void in his life by engaging in casual sexual trysts with medical students that are subordinate to him. His personality is an amalgam of various people I’ve known in my life and no, I won’t mention who they are.
BK: As a writer myself, I'm always curious how other writers get through stumble blocks. When you find a story not flowing, or a character trying to fight you, how do you correct it?
Peter: If the character is fighting me, inevitably, the character is right and I am wrong. The most likely problem is that I did not properly understand the motivation of the character, or that I’m making him or her do something that is not consistent with his or her goals. A good way to correct this problem is to know what your characters want.
BK: Using the letters of your first name as an acronym, describe your book...
BK: How did your writing journey begin?
Peter: I always imagined myself as a writer of non-fiction. I sought to educate the masses and to illuminate the world with my great thoughts using my background as a physician. I wrote a couple of small non-fiction books before I realized that the surest path to change the way someone thinks is through their heart. You reach a reader’s thoughts by jolting her emotions. My journey to writing fiction began several years ago when I attended a medical fiction writing seminar taught by Tess Gerritsen and Michael Palmer. I knew I was hooked then.
BK: What is the craziest thing you've ever written about, whether it got published or not?
Peter: For an ethics class in medical school I wrote a short story about a pathetically arrogant attending physician I had encountered during my Ob-Gyn rotation at an outside community hospital. When they read the story, my professor and fellow class-mates complimented me on my creativity even though the only creative effort on my part was changing the guy’s name.
BK: Tell us one thing you've done in life that readers would be most surprised to know.
Peter: I met my wife on the platform of the El in Chicago at O’Hare airport. We talked for a good 40 minutes on the train (turns out she was a medical student from Mexico doing a year of clinical rotations in Chicago) and when we parted ways I gave her my phone number.
She never called me. Luckily, I remembered the name of the hospital where she was working. After a week or so, I called the medical education office of the hospital, told the secretary that I was her cousin and needed her paged immediately due to a family emergency. When my wife-to-be finally picked up the phone I said, “So you didn’t call me.” It took her a minute to figure out who I was. Took another three months before she started warming up to me. We just celebrated our 23rd wedding anniversary earlier this month.
This or That...
Coke or Pepsi?
Night Owl or Early Bird?
Neither; early to bed, late to rise
Fantasy or Mystery?
Pen/Paper or Computer?
Pizza or Burger?
Rock or Country?
Chocolate or Vanilla?
Vanilla ice cream. Chocolate everything else.
Beach or Mountains?
Heaven is that place where the slopes of Vail give way to the white sands of Cancun.
Thank you so much for having us as one of your stops today. It has been great getting to know more about you and your book, and wish you the best of success!
Peter Palmieri was raised in the eclectic port city of Trieste, Italy. He returned to the United States atthe age of 14 with just a suitcase and an acoustic guitar. After attending public high school in San Diego, California, he earned his bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Animal Physiology from the University of California, San Diego. He received his medical degree from Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine and completed his pediatric training at the University of Chicago and Loyola University Medical Center. More recently, he was awarded a Healthcare MBA by The George Washington University. A former student of Robert McKee's Story seminar and the SMU Writer's Path program, and a two-time attendee of the SEAK Medical Fiction seminar taught by Tess Gerritsen and Michael Palmer, Peter is now busy practicing general pediatrics at a large academic medical center while working on his next medical suspense.
Genre: fiction: medical (medical suspense)
Release date: June 2013
Dr. Lloyd Copeland is a young neurologist who is tormented by the conviction that he has inherited the severe, early-onset dementia that has plagued his family for generations – the very disease which spurred his father to take his own life when Lloyd was just a child. Withdrawn to a life of emotional detachment, he looks for solace in hollow sexual trysts as a way to escape his throbbing loneliness. Still, he clings to the hope that the highly controversial treatment for memory loss he’s been researching will free him from his family’s curse.
But when odd mishaps take place in his laboratory, his research is blocked by a hospital review board headed by Erin Kennedy: a beautiful medical ethicist with a link to his troubled childhood. The fight to salvage his reputation and recover the hope for his own cure brings him face to face with sordid secrets that rock his very self-identity. And to make matters worse, he finds himself falling irretrievably in love with the very woman who seems intent on thwarting his efforts.
Praise for The Art of Forgetting:
"Read this one!" Bobby Garrison, Amazon Reviewer
"Entertaining medical thriller!" Roy Benaroch, MD
"The Art of Forgetting is unforgettable!" Apollonia D., Amazon Reviewer