Saturday, December 3, 2011

Author Interview with my Guest David Lender

David Lender is the Amazon best-selling author of The Gravy Train, Trojan HorseBull Street, and his latest novel, Vaccine Nation, which just came out November 22nd.  Right now, you can get ALL of David's fanstastic books FREE if you are a member of Amazon Prime.

Vaccine Nation is David's fourth novel and I have invited him here today to tell you more about it.
Vaccine Nation is a fast-paced thriller about an award-winning documentary filmmaker who is handed “whistleblower” evidence about the U.S. vaccination program, and then races to expose it before a megalomaniacal drug company CEO can have her killed.


1.       Tell me about yourself, how you became to be a writer, and why you are a writer.

I am a former investment banker.  I worked as a mergers and acquisitions specialist at major Wall Street firms—Merrill Lynch, Rothschild, and BofA—for over 25 years.  From prior to my college years I wanted to be a novelist, and about 15 years ago I decided to get serious about it and started writing, settling on thrillers, because that’s what I read on vacation.  I got up at 5 a.m., exercised, wrote for an hour and went to my day job, like most aspiring writers.  I outlined or edited scenes on planes, in cabs or in hotel rooms.  Eventually I was lucky enough to meet a great editor—Richard Marek, who edited Robert Ludlum’s first nine thrillers, including his Jason Bourne books, and other thrillers such as Silence of the Lambs—and worked with him over 18 months on my first novel, Trojan Horse, to learn my craft.  I write because I love it, but also because I got to the point where I could no longer ignore the compulsion to do so. 

2.       Tell me about your novel—what inspired it?

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.  She’s also just started work on a new documentary on autism.  When a pharmaceutical industry vaccine researcher hands her smoking gun evidence about the U.S. National Immunization Program seconds before he’s murdered right in front of her, Dani finds herself implicated and pursued by the police.

Dani realizes what she’s been handed could have crucial implications on upcoming hearings by a Senate committee.  A key issue the Senate committee will consider is whether Congress should continue the immunity it granted in 1986 to the pharmaceutical industry for claims by parents on damage to their children from the U.S. National Immunization Program. That puts Dani on the run in a race to understand and expose the evidence.  That is, before the police can grab her, or Grover Madsen, a megalomaniacal pharmaceutical industry CEO, can have her hunted down by his hired killers.  Madsen knows exactly what Dani has and how explosive it is for the pharmaceutical industry: it has the potential to make the tobacco industry’s lawsuits and subsequent multi-billion dollar settlements seem like routine slip-and-fall cases.  Madsen uses all his company’s political and financial resources to track Dani.

My primary inspiration for writing Vaccine Nation was my exposure to the vaccine debate through my fiancé’s work as a documentary filmmaker in the health-related field, including films on ADHD and related drugging of children, and on vaccines and autism.  The facts in Vaccine Nation are accurate—the 1986 Congressional grant of immunity to the pharmaceutical industry for liability related to their vaccines for the National Immunization Program, the toxicity of certain ingredients of vaccines, the controversy surrounding the safety and side-effects of vaccines, and vaccines’ suspected relationship to the autism epidemic.  The issues in the book are real and the debate on vaccine safety is increasing: recent CDC statistics show that 10% of parents (up from 2% to 3%.) are avoiding or delaying vaccinating their children because of concerns about vaccine safety.

3.       How did you choose the title of the novel?

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 push to vaccinate in its National Immunization Program of 14 vaccines administered in 49 doses by age 6.  

4.       What made you choose your particular genre?

I’ve always read thrillers on vacation and always wanted to write, so when I decided to get serious about writing it was only natural for me to focus on thrillers.

5.       What’s the next project for you?  Tell the readers about it.

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 (

6.       What character from your book(s) are you like the most and why?

I am probably most like Richard Blum, the protagonist in Bull Street, my novel about a naïve, young Wall Streeter, who offers a jaded billionaire the chance for redemption when they team up to bring down an insider trading ring before they wind up in jail or dead.  Richard is much like I was when I landed my first job on the Street: thinking I had it made, then soon realizing that Wall Street is full of misfits and con artists, all who have their hands on way too much money, and then scrambling to adapt to that fact.                      

7.       Let’s put the novel aside and talk about YOU for a minute—what are your hobbies and what can’t you live without that’s non-book related?  What do you do when you are not writing?  If you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be?

I love good wine—mostly French, and now mostly burgundy—and good food.  I also love music, with very eclectic tastes, ranging from The Beatles to Mozart, and including opera and New Age.  I have high-end stereo equipment at both our New Jersey home and weekend house in Pennsylvania.  When I’m not writing I’m drinking wine, eating and listening to music.  I’m handy, so I also fix things around the house and work outside in the garden and the yard.  If I could live anywhere it would probably be Provence or Paris, both of which I love.

8.       If a reader asked you to recommend the three BEST books to read, aside from your own, what would they be?

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (my favorite novel), Elmore Leonard’s Out of Sight (my favorite crime novel) and Frederick Forsyth’s The Day of the Jackal (my favorite thriller).

9.       If you could have dinner with one author, who would it be?

Elmore Leonard. He is my favorite living writer and the one I most aspire to write like.  I would enjoy asking about his novels, most of which I’ve read, and his craft.

10.  For more about David: 

TWITTER: @davidlender

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting interview, you guys. I love to see what makes writers tick. I really do. I can usually learn something very useful from an interview like this one. It's also a treat to hear about the person behind the prose.
    Thanks, David. Much success to you, Sir.
    And thank you, Cheryl, for sharing this with us.