© 2018 Daniel G. Welch  All rights reserved

  • What is the name of the book and when was it published?

    • Race for the Mind.  It was officially launched on March 1, 2018

 

  • What’s the book’s first line? 

    • Four minutes into the landing procedure flight commander Neil Armstrong tensely informed Apollo 11 Mission Control in Houston that his computer screen displayed a four-digit error code: “1202.”

 

  • What’s the book about? 

    • A medical thriller about the audacious challenge to defeat one of our greatest socio-economic threats - Alzheimer’s disease - and how the medical community and the pharmaceutical industry rise to face it. The pressure and enormous stakes of the Race for the Mind expose the most noble and misguided aspects of our humanity.

    • Dr. Darya Rostov, one of the greatest minds of a generation is stricken with Alzheimer’s disease - she represents the 50 million people who are currently making their long journey into the night. Jack Callahan is the CEO of BioNeura, a San Francisco biotech company developing what could be the first breakthrough for patients like Darya. Dr. Nathaniel Shah, a brilliant neurologist rises to run SNS, a rival company based in Geneva, Switzerland and hides a terrifying secret. The plot tracks Callahan and Shah, each driven by very different things and their struggle within themselves and with each other. It should be all about the patients like Rostov – but alas, we’re all human - and that sometimes gets in the way.

  • What inspired you to write the book? A particular person? An event? 

    • I wrote Race for the Mind for two reasons. First, I have spent 40 years in the business of making medicines and during this time, I was often frustrated by how poorly and one-sidedly the pharmaceutical industry was treated by the media. I thought – perhaps naively hoped – that I could tell an engaging story and while telling it, stealthily educate the general public about another way the industry could be portrayed. That other side of the story would be the one of terrible odds, horrendous sums of money and the stunningly long drug development process and also, of the courageous and dedicated men and women who devote their entire lives to helping people they have never met live a longer and better quality life. Second, my family like so many other families has been visited several times by Alzheimer’s disease and I wanted to bring attention to and raise money to address the urgent need to race for a cure. 

 

  • 100% of profits from book sales will go to Alzheimer’s disease – care, support and research.

 

 

  • What’s the main reason someone should really read this book? 

    • Someone should read this book to get an inside look at one of America’s remaining dominant industries, pharmaceuticals and be able to answer questions many of us have: why do drugs take 15 years to be developed; why are the risks of failure so high and why does it cost one to two billion dollars to develop a new drug?  The information in this book, woven into an entertaining medical thriller, would provide another side of the narrative the reader typically hears from media and allow a more complete picture with which to have an opinion on this important aspect of our society and economy.

 

  • What's the most distinctive thing about the main character?  Who-real or fictional-would you say the character reminds you of? 

    • The two main characters are rivals. Both are flawed.  The protagonist is an American who tries to do the right thing but is as human as all of us.  The antagonist is a ruthless upper crust Anglo Indian carrying a terrible secret that defines and haunts him, against which he struggles every day. 

 

  • If they made your book into a movie, who would you like to see play the main character(s)?

    • Jack Callahan (protagonist) – Ryan Reynolds, Matt Damon, Bradley Cooper

  • Dr Nathaniel Shah (antagonist) – F. Murray Abraham, Ralph Fiennes, Irrfan Kahn

 

  • When did you first decide to become an author?

    • About 15 years ago when I was between companies. I acted on my long-lived bucket list item, to write a novel.

 

  • Is this the first book you’ve written?

    • Yes

 

  • What do you do for work when you’re not writing?

    • I have been an executive in the pharmaceutical business for almost 40 years.  When not working I like to play ice hockey, fly fish, travel, collect (and drink) wine and read good books. 

 

  • How much time do you generally spend on your writing?

    • When a book is under construction, about 20 hours a month – I write in my “spare time” while working.

 

  • What’s the best and the hardest part of being an indie?   

    • Best – having artistic freedom

    • Hardest – reviewing, understanding and choosing the best from the myriad processes, services, websites, consultants and companies to publish and then promote a book. 

 

  • What’s a great piece of advice that you can share with fellow indie authors?

    • If you go the POD route, be very careful about which firm you choose and if you don’t choose an Amazon company, understand that you take on additional hurdles and complexities than you may want.  Amazon is the 800 pound gorilla – one must respect that power and if one goes against it, accept the risks.

 

  • Would you go traditional if a publisher came calling?  If so, why?  

    • I likely would if I were to do a second book and if I could have a reasonable amount of artistic freedom.  Why? To handle all of the myriad details of publishing a book - though I now understand them much more.  So on further thought, it would be a tough one – it would depend on the financial terms, fit and chemistry of the relationship.

 

  • Is there something in particular that motivates you (fame? fortune ? other?)

    • Getting my message out motivates me – why it takes so long, why the risks are ridiculously high, why it costs billions of dollars to bring a medicine from the laboratory to the pharmacy and let people know that there are thousands of selfless, passionate and brilliant people in drug companies who are dedicating their lives to help patients who they will never meet.

 

  • Which writer, living or dead, do you most admire?

    • John Steinbeck. His simple, square and efficient style that delivered heart rending insights into the human experience – suffering, joy, weaknesses and near boundless strength present in all of us. 

 

  • Which book do you wish you could have written?

    • Grapes of Wrath or The Winter of Our Discontent.

A CONVERSATION WITH THE AUTHOR