Q. Dorian, first I have to tell you how much I LOVE Psycho-Tropics!
A. Thanks so much, Amy. As my friend and publicist, it would be weird if you didn’t.
Q. So, “Dorian Box” is a pen name. Why do writers use pen names?
A. Depends on the writer. [See Dorian’s post on using pen names.] For me it was wanting to keep professional life separate from fiction-writing life.
Q. And your professional life is as a college professor?
Q. You’re a prolific publisher in your nonfiction “real life.” Lots of books and articles. Mostly academic, correct?
A. Where footnotes rule.
Q. Oh joy. Not exactly Book Club material, eh?
A. It’s the kind of stuff that once you put it down, you can’t pick it back up.
Q. Then comes Psycho-Tropics, which goes to the other extreme. There’s a lot of crazy action. Seems like something surprising happens in every chapter and there are … what do we have … fifty-four chapters? Was that intentional?
A. I love suspense and twists and worked hard to build them, but a brain defect may have played a role. “Tornado brain,” as a friend called it.
Q. Somehow all the craziness fits together at the end.
A. I hope so. I hate plots with gaping holes in them. If I spot a huge plot flaw in a book or movie, I can’t enjoy it, even if the rest of it is great.
Q. Psycho-Tropics is set in Hollywood, Florida.
A. Good ol’ Hollywood. My hometown.
Q. Where exactly is Hollywood?
A. Sandwiched between Fort Lauderdale and Miami on what they call the Gold Coast.
Q. How many thrillers have been set in Hollywood, Florida?
A. [Laughs] Not very many. Probably none.
Q. How much of what you describe about Hollywood and what happened there is real?
A. The plot is fictional, of course, and I made up names for most places and streets, but the overall vibe and milieu of growing up in South Florida during the relevant eras are real. Diving, fishing, surfing … Hollywood has changed a lot over the years, but the beach is still hard to beat.
Q. Some reviews compare your writing style to Carl Hiaasen. Is that an accurate comparison?
The humor, odd characters, and crazy antics are all there, but Psycho-Tropics also has a dark side and a complex, believable mystery plot, which are not normal parts of the genre. The book is a contradiction of dark and light. I want to emphasize that because a lot of the reviews mention the humor, and some readers are caught off guard by the tragic and violent aspects.
Q. Good lead-in to the next question. Without giving too much away, you had to make the protagonist, Danny Teakwell, a sympathetic character that readers could root for even though he had a capital-B, big cloud from the past hanging over him.
A. I suppose the main theme is redemption, which is a trope, of course, but I tried to present it in a fresh way. I believe most people have some dark hour in their past–whatever it is–they wish they could go back and change or at least forget.
Q. What about you? Do you have a dark hour?
A. Probably thousands. None as bad as Danny’s. How about you?