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Talking Books with Mystery Author Robert Greer

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Robert Greer is a native of Columbus, Ohio, who spent his formative years in the steel mill town of Gary, Indiana. He graduated from Miami University at Oxford, Ohio, in 1965 with a Bachelor of Arts degree and subsequently earned degrees in dentistry, medicine and pathology from Howard University and Boston University. He is a professor of pathology, medicine, surgery, and dentistry at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center where he specializes in head and neck pathology and cancer research. He also holds a Masters Degree in Creative Writing from Boston University and an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Miami University, his alma mater.

Greer has lived in Denver for 30 years. In 1986 he founded The High Plains Literary Review and continues to serve as its editor-in-chief. He is the author or co-author of three medical textbooks and over 125 scientific articles. His short stories have appeared in dozens of national literary magazines and his short story collection, Isolation and Other Stories, published in 2000 by The Davies Group Publishers, sold out its hardback printings and is now in trade paperback.

His latest book, Blackbird, Farewell, is a “punch-packing whodunit that exposes the dark side of the pro-athlete good life.”

We interviewed Robert to find out more about his exciting new book, Blackbird, Farewell.

Thank you for this interview, Robert. Can you tell us a little about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

I am actually a pathologist and a professor of medicine and pathology at the University of Colorado Health Science Center. I have a Masters Degree in Creative Writing from Boston University which I suppose qualifies me to be a writer. I have written ten novels including seven mysteries, two medical thrillers, and a short story collection over the course of the past ten years. I have been writing much longer than that but all my writing prior to publishing the novels and short story collection was in the area of newspaper writing because my college degrees are in journalism and chemistry. I do as much scientific writing as novel writing. I have published three medical textbooks and 135 scientific articles, largely dealing with cancer in the head and neck region. I’ve been a professor and cancer researcher at the University of Colorado for 35 years.

What was your favorite book to read as a child?

I had two favorite books as a child, Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain which I think still stands as America’s epic novel and 1984 by George Orwell which I took to heart as a child. It is a book that seems to becoming more and more true.

Can you tell us a little about your latest book?

My latest book, Blackbird, Farewell, is the story of a superstar college basketball player who is murdered. The solution to the mystery of his death is left to be solved by his best friend, another college athlete who has decided to become a physician rather than an NBA basketball star. The book deals largely with the dark side of sports and that hidden side in all of us that we never share with others.

What kind of research did you have to conduct to write your book?

I did not have to do a lot of research for the book because I played college sports. However, I did do some research on NBA basketball teams, the NBA draft, and the issue of “sports fixing.”

How do you deal with rejection?

Rejection is a part of life and I typically do not let it phase me. My motto has always been “you win some and you lose some.” People who have a tough time with rejection will find it very difficult to operate in the arena of the publishing game.

Do you write mainly by day or by night?

I typically write at night when I come home from my day job at the University of Colorado Health Science Center. I usually write 2-3 hours each night during the week. On weekends I write in the morning, usually three hours each Saturday and Sunday morning. I treat writing like a job and I have a well established routine.

Do you ever get writer’s block and what do you do when that happens?

I have never had writer’s block and I tend not to think of anything that I do as something I can’t.

Can you tell us a little about the publisher who published your book? How have they been to work with?

My publisher is North Atlantic Books and they are distributed by Random House, one of the giants in publishing industry. North Atlantic essentially serves as an imprint of Random House, however they do have more independence. My publisher prior to North Atlantic was Warner Books. These two publishers have published all ten of my works except for my short story collection. I have worked with North Atlantic Books for the past four books and I am contracted with them for another novel at the moment. They have been delightful to work with. They are exceedingly professional, they are always on time, and they are no-nonsense publishers.

Do you have a website? Do you manage it yourself or do you have someone run it for you?

Yes, I do have a website. You can find out about me and my novels at www.robertgreerbooks.com. It is hosted by a webmaster; however, all material comes directly to me through her.

How do you deal with a bad review?

I generally pay little attention to reviews, good or bad. They are part of the publishing game and you have to take them all with a grain of salt, whether they are starred reviews in Publisher's Weekly or Library Journal, which I’ve had, or a review by someone who just doesn’t like your book, which I’ve also had.

What’s next for you?

My next book will be a literary novel entitled Spoon. It is a modern day spin-off of the famous western Shane. The book is a literary novel set in the west and is not truly a western, as Shane was. The book is an off-shoot of a short story I once wrote. It will be published in October, 2009. Following that my next book will be a CJ Floyd mystery in 2010.

Thank you for this interview, Robert! Do you have any final words you’d like to share with my readers?

For those of you who are readers, enjoy the written word. For those of you that are writers, keep plugging along.

Robert Greer is represented by Pump Up Your Book Promotion, an innovative public relations agency specializing in online book promotion.

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