Interview with Paul Flower, author of The Redeeming Power Of Brain Surgery

Paul Flower

Paul Flower is an author, advertising copywriter/creative director and a journalist.

He has written and produced award-winning advertising for print, radio, television, outdoor, the Web––really, just about every medium––for business-to-consumer and business-to-business accounts.

His news features have appeared in regional and national magazines. His first novel, “The Redeeming Power of Brain Surgery,” was published in June 2013 by Scribe Publishing. Visit Paul’s website at

Connect with Paul:

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About The Book

The Redeeeming Power of Brain Surgery
TitleThe Redeeming Power of Brain Surgery: A Suspense Novel 
Author: Paul Flower
Publisher: Scribe Publishing Company
Publication Date: June 1, 2013
Pages: 250
ISBN: 978-0985956271
Genre: Susepense
Format: Paperback, eBook (.mobi / Kindle), PDF

Book Description:

Jesse Tieter, M.D. has carefully constructed the ideal life. But lately, neither his Chicago-based neurology practice nor his wife and son are enough to suppress the memories that have haunted him since he was a little boy. He can't stop thinking about that summer day in 1967 when his father died.

So Jesse is heading back. Back to the town and the place where a long-repressed horror occurred. Back to make sure his twin keeps the family's secret buried.

But what will he uncover along the way?

Book Excerpt:

His son’s hand felt like a lie. Lately, to him, everything felt this way. The look of sadness on his wife’s face, the burn of a drink in his throat, the whine of a saw in the O.R.; nothing seemed true. Nothing was real anymore. He felt out of balance, too. Even now, the school building, the flag slapping against the heavy fall sky¬¬—everything was tipping away from him. It was as though he’d gotten up that morning and screwed on his head carelessly, as though he hadn’t threaded it good and tight. While shaving, he’d cut himself, a discrete, semi-intentional knick just under the curve of his chin. He’d stood there like an idiot, eyes feeding the message “blood” to his brain, nerve endings responding with “pain” and the logic center unable to formulate a response.

“Dad? Daddy?”

“Uh? Wha’?”

“Pick up the pace. Chop chop. Move out.”

Now, as he snaked through the crush of other parents and children, he had to look down to convince himself the boy was there, attached to the hand, flesh and bone. The red hair, “his mother’s hair” everyone called it, was sliced by a crisp white part; his head bounced in beat with his sneakered feet. The child was so painfully real he couldn’t be a lie.

It amazed him that his son looked so much like his wife, especially the tiny mouth, the way it was set in a crooked, determined line. He was a kid who liked to have fun, but he could be fierce. Today, the challenge of a new school year, of third grade, had brought out the determined streak. This was good. They would need that streak, he and his mother would.

“Whoa.”  The tiny hand now was a road sign, white-pink flesh facing him, commanding him. Far enough. He obeyed. Squatting, arms out for the anticipated embrace, he suddenly wanted to tell everything. Tears swam. His throat thickened. The earth tilted and threatened to send him skittering over its edge. There was the slightest of hugs, the brush of lips on his cheek then the boy was off, skipping toward the steps as though third grade challenged nothing, caused no fear, as though the world was in perfect balance.

He walked back to his Lincoln Navigator with the exaggerated care of a drunk who didn’t want anyone to know his condition. He got behind the wheel and suddenly was no longer in his 50s; he felt 16 and too small, too skinny and insignificant to handle the giant SUV.

He nosed the vehicle toward home, alternately trembling and gripping the wheel as he merged with the morning traffic. The plan struck him now as odd and silly, the challenges too great. His hands, already red and scaly, itched fiercely. Get a grip, he told himself. Get a grip.

His tired mind—when was the last time he’d really slept well?—jumped from one stone of thought to another. Was everything covered at work? The bills—had he paid them all? Did his wife suspect anything? Yes. No. Absolutely. Of course not. Relax. Relax. He left the expressway at the exit that took him past their church and wondered if the church, too, was a lie. What of the wedding there so many years ago?

Through a stoplight and past a Dunkin’ Donuts, his gaze floated around a corner. A flash of inspiration—hit the gas. Let the tires slide and the back-end arc around. Let physics have its way until the big vehicle broke free from the grip of gravity and danced head over end, coming to a stop with him bleeding and mercifully, gratefully dead inside.

No. He had something to do. Had he figured the angles right? Gotten the plan tight enough?

A horn jabbed through his reverie. He had drifted into the turn lane of the five-lane street. He jerked the wheel and cut across traffic into the right lane. Tires screeched, horns screamed. A black Toyota streaked past on his left, the driver’s fist, middle finger erect, thrust out the window.

Rage, sharp and bitter, bubbled in his throat. He hesitated, then jammed his foot on the accelerator, cut the wheel hard, and sent the Navigator careening into the left lane.

A staccato barrage of profanity pounded the inside of his skull. He bit his tongue to keep the words in. His heart hammered and a familiar, dizzying pressure filled his ears. The SUV roared ahead, past one car, past a semi then another car, quickly closing the gap on the speeding Toyota. He couldn’t see the car’s driver but he could imagine him, some stupid, simple-minded schmuck, eyes locked on the rear-view mirror as the lumbering Lincoln grew larger, larger, larger. The instant before he would slam into the smaller vehicle, he jabbed his brake and turned again to the left. There was a squeal of tires and more horns bleating behind him; the semi rig’s air horn bellowed angrily past. Ramrod straight, eyes fixed ahead on the now-slow-moving car disappearing tentatively around a curve, he brought the Navigator to a shuddering stop in the center lane. He tensed and waited for the resounding WHUMP of a crash from behind. None came. Face flushed and eyes gleaming, suddenly rejuvenated, he accelerated quickly then eased the Navigator back into the flow of traffic—no looking back.

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Author Interview

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life! Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process. Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning? Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

A: For most of my life, I’ve lived in southwest Michigan’s beach country. Here, during the summer, wealthy tourists from Chicago and other big Midwestern cities mingle with small-town locals––blue-collar workers and rednecks. I have always been fascinated by the secrets we carry––the things that few people, if any, know about. I spend a lot of time standing in lines at stores wondering if the guy next to me might have murdered someone.

Those ingredients fueled The Redeeming Power of Brain Surgery. It portrays twin brothers who grew up here. Today one is a wealthy Chicago brain surgeon and the other works in a factory in their southwest Michigan hometown. The brain surgeon has come home to make sure their horrifying, decades-old secret stays buried.

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

A: I have been writing professionally for more than three decades and still find most writing “hard.” This book has been a work in progress for much of those three decades; my first draft was completed sometime in the 1980s. Writing it was a lot like I imagine sculpting might be. It’s all about the rewriting, the endless polishing and chiseling and revising. I don’t believe there is any particular tip that could make it “easier.” But you have to believe in what you’re doing. All of the rejection––from publishers and agents and that aunt you mistakenly allowed to read your manuscript––is part of the writing game. The thing is, I always loved this book and its characters, and that was critical. You have to write it for you first.

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

A: My publisher is Scribe Publishing of Royal Oak, Michigan. In a rather difficult time for me, when I was building a freelance writing business after losing my job as an advertising copywriter, I stumbled on Scribe through craigslist.

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

A: Yes. When you write a book, you have this fantasy that you simply send it off to a publisher, and that it’s printed and sent out to bookstores and money and fame result. Of course, I’m exaggerating. But only slightly. We all, I think, have a little of that illusion in our minds as we’re sweating away at a manuscript. In fact, the real work starts once you’ve written your book. Then you have to sell it. And once it’s published, you have to promote it. It’s rewarding work but it’s challenging. And it is a surprising amount of work.

Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

A: Since it took me 30 years to get this book published, I have a few other manuscripts also underway (I had to do something during all of those years, right?). For the past year, I have working on one of those––a bit of political satire that involves a Michigan governor who idolizes George W. Bush. I’ll leave it at that.

Q: What’s your favorite place to hang out online?

A: I stick with the basics: Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and LinkedIn.

Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

A: I believe we all have parts of ourselves, facts of our lives, that we are reluctant to reveal to one another. So one message is that we rarely truly know another person. I also believe evil and good are in each of us. This dual nature is part of humankind’s story. So while it’s easy to say we would never hurt or kill or commit some evil act, we all are capable of it.

Q: Thank you again for this interview! Do you have any final words?

A: I feel privileged to be here. To answer questions. Thank you for inviting me.

The Redeeming Power of Brain Surgery

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