Fever Therapy Interview

Questions from Karam Nahal of FinalDraft:

Tell me more about FEVER THERAPY . . . who was the real Hannah Wilson?

The real Hannah Wilson Drummond Harper, as opposed to the character in the story, is sadly out of reach. My grandmother might have answered the question more fully if I had known what to ask about her childhood but she died back in the early sixties when I was a kid.

How did you piece together the framework of your story concerning her and Harper?

Scotland’s People is an easy to use website with all the information, although I spent months looking at records. The odd family photograph, census or official certificate allows a forensic approach to building inferences about people long passed. The same applies with war records. They give scant information but serve as a starting point for imaginative writing.

And the Coley Toxins, where did they come in?

Hannah had Ovarian Cancer and Harper was a Bobby. He would have informed himself like I did five years ago with the benefit of the internet. What gob-smacked me was that the story of John Ficken; like Finsen, Pirie and Curie’s research would have been sensational news at the time. Everyone should know about the Coley story – it was just waiting to coincide with someone doing research into that period.

Do you feel that it deserves more publicity?

Absolutely, of course it does. I am not a champion of lost causes, or some kind of crusader but this deserves all the coverage it can have . . . through the CHIPSA GERSON Clinic in Mexico or Cancer Research for example. I hope people will read my works because they are bloody good reading not because of any back story, especially one involving such an astounding level of suffering and perpetuated deceit. I didn’t set out to write about Coley – that deserves a proper historian. I discovered him quite by chance. He wrote himself into the story.

What about Freemasonry . . . in places you give them a bad press?

Freemasonry is a mott and bailey with an outer wall and a loyal army surrounding it. I could not avoid writing about it because it figured so prominently in Scotland in that era, as well as in the lives of our real grandparents. Again this minor background theme will follow into the series titles to come, especially Golden Dawn and Tally Long’s Pie.

Will you develop some of the plot line and characters from FEVER THERAPY into your next novel?

The first half of Hannah Duff features Harper and his struggle to come to terms with the loss of his wife and other tragic circumstances. People don’t deal with tragedy do they? They live through it and adapt to the loss. How do you write about that? 

I don’t know – you are supposed to tell me.

The main character in the second half is obviously Hannah Duff – the Great Granddaughter / daughter. She carries forward a three year old’s simplistic spiritual take on bereavement, with a strongly left field attitude to the conditions which serve to limit opportunity for a girl. She is one of a kind.