Monday, January 27, 2014

Braxton DeGarmo: "Story" brings focus to gripping tales based on current issues

Welcome to Braxton DeGarmo, a new member of St. Louis Writers Guild, whom I met last month at the Holiday Book Fair. 
Braxton went to Duke University, earned a Bachelor's Degree of Science in Engineering with a major in Bio-Medical Engineering, and then went into medical school at the University of Cincinnati. Following a residency in Emergency Medicine at Madigan Army Medical Center, he served tours as the Chief, Emergency Medical Services at Fort Campbell, KY and as a research Flight Surgeon at Fort Rucker, AL. In 1997, he became convinced he could write fiction after placing in the top 5 (out of 1100) in a writing contest. The next ten years saw him learning the craft of writing through local writers' groups, seminars, critique groups and more. Now, sixteen years after that first hesitant start, he can't find enough time to write as much as he'd like. Besides writing, he is an avid gardener and backyard daylily hybridizer. Their two children are grown and with three grandchildren nearby, "Papa" wears a number of hats.

What brings your writing into focus – the characters, the stories, the love of words? I love to tell a gripping story. So, while the characters help bring a story to life, it’s the story itself that brings my writing into focus. My stories are, for the most part, about current day issues. As an example, The Militant Genome speaks to the potential threats of bio-technology while looking at the undercurrent of racism that still bubbles through our society. Rescued and Remembered centers around human trafficking. Looks that Deceive takes a little different slant in that it deals more with psychological issues. Without spoiling the story, let me just say it deals with a sociopath. Indebted is different from my other stories in that it is the story of its characters and the hope, perseverance, and redemption they encounter. No matter what the topic, though, the story is central and I hope I will be known as a good storyteller.

How do you find time to write and do a demanding job? Find time or make time? I’d love to say I’m a very regimented writer and I write so many words every day. I’m not. Some days nothing gets done with regards to my writing. Some days I plough ahead and chisel 4-5,000 words into stone. I also have to admit I’ve gotten worse by semi-retiring and working only part-time. When I worked full-time, I spent a lot of quality time with my laptop as I spent 8-10 evenings a month by myself in a motel room. Home has too many distractions, or should I say, honey-dos. So, it really does become a matter of making time to write. I can put out a first draft in 4-6 months and a final draft 3-4 months after that, but I have to give myself a deadline. I always work best under the pressure of a deadline.

What inspired your latest book? My latest book, Rescued and Remembered, focuses on the very real problem of human trafficking. Since releasing the book on November 25th, I’ve received a number of emails asking me, “Do you really think that’s happening here?” Unfortunately, the answer is ‘yes’ no matter where you are. Estimates are difficult to make, but those active in combating this problem in St. Louis figure there are several thousand young girls and women caught up in this illegal trade in our metro area, from being simple servants to prostitutes. While my book talks of Eastern European girls being smuggled into the country, the problem more recently has moved to young women from Central and South America. Can I give a plug here? International Crisis Aid, a local non-profit, opened the first safe house in St. Louis this past summer for women rescued from the human trafficking ‘industry.’ Look them up and consider a donation. Let’s help these women.

What do you think readers will like about your book(s)? What’s not to like? Seriously, I think my readers enjoy the stories with all of their twists and turns. My stories tend to make you think, while at the same time they keep you up past your bedtime. I’ve been told that my characters are engaging, yet real. So, as I said, what’s not to like?

How much fact is in your fiction? I tend to use a fair amount of fact in my stories. Fact helps ground a story in reality and if anything, I like realism in my novels. Few things bother me more when reading (or watching a TV show) than to find factual errors in the story. Particularly in this age of the Internet, it’s so easy to research a topic and make sure you have it right. This is especially true for thrillers that rely upon fringe science. Donald Maass, the über-agent, once advised me that to make fringe science believable is possible, but requires a lot of work to make a reader accept it. He used Crichton’s ‘Jurassic Park’ as the prime example. Cloning a dinosaur from DNA trapped in amber is scientifically impossible today, but Michael Crichton built his case well and made it believable. I didn’t envy working that hard to re-write ‘The Militant Genome,’ so I went to cutting-edge technology and found factual science to use in that book. The bio-technology I present in that book is in use today.

Would you share a bit about your next project? What would happen if terrorism struck your kids’ school? And what if that event was totally ignored by the media and politicians? What might happen if a third political party successfully arose from the grassroots of America and became a real threat to both existing parties?



Barnes & Noble:

The Militant Genome -- A master gene for race? Geneticists say such a thing doesn’t exist. However, the Colonel, founder of the Missouri White Alliance, has devised a genetic weapon capable of devastating dark-skinned peoples globally. He is only weeks, maybe days away from implementing his viral version of racial cleansing’s “final solution.” There’s only one threat to his plan – a hotheaded member of the MWA has become the target of a nationwide police search for murder and the kidnapping of local celebrity Della Winston … and the unwanted attention risks bringing federal scrutiny to the previously unknown white supremacy group.
Sarah Wade, MD, has enough stress as a senior Emergency Medicine resident. She never expected that her discovery of a murdered medical student would inadvertently jeopardize her career. Or that the next-day murder of a Nigerian diplomat would lead to the kidnapping of her best friend, Della Winston. The cascade of events pull her – and Seamus O’Connor, the detective assigned to the high-profile medical center murder – into a life-threatening conspiracy of murder, kidnapping, and rising racial tensions.

Indebted -- “Indebted” starts in the late 1960’s and life with an alcoholic father in rural western North Carolina couldn’t get worse for young Alice Cummings, until she gets pregnant out of wedlock and her father “sells” her baby.  She flees, resolved to find her child, but more tragedy derails her search.  Yet, her life turns around in a most unexpected way … before she disappears from the face of the earth.
For current day, mega-selling author, Myra Mitchell, the “Diva of Disaster,” a life of hard work and harder partying falls into a tailspin after a life-changing diagnosis.  In pursuit of a final book, she sets her sights on the unknown story of Betsy Weston, her favorite cartoonist, who appeared from nowhere in Ashville, NC,  and finds herself racing death to pay back a debt unveiled by her hunt.

Looks that Deceive -- The press calls “him” the L.A. Rapist, a misnomer in all ways for this serial assailant whose attacks on legal assistants leaves them in a vegetative state. Now, the deaths of two prominent medical malpractice attorneys have put authorities in an uproar and detective Lynch Culley is under extreme pressure to find the perpetrators. Or should that be singular? Has the L.A. Rapist upped “his” game? 
Amy Gibbs, RN is a newly recruited med-evac flight nurse who left the E.D. and its stress behind, along with memories of a certain detective who “dumped” her. On one fateful call, she hears the deathbed confession of a man who police are seeking as a person of interest, perhaps the killer’s accomplice. Within hours, the lives of Amy Gibbs and detective Lynch Cully again intertwine in a story that unravels a web of identity theft, electronic eavesdropping, and stalking amid a confusion of identities.

Rescued and Remembered -- The past three months have been hard for Jusuf. Fished from the river, nearly dead, he had lost his memory, could barely walk, and needed assistance simply to feed himself. His benefactor, Danijela, lives in fear in the remote river cabin owned by Ibrahim – the man who saved her. She believes him to be dead and his killer, Darko Komarčić, has put a price on her head, too.
For Amy Gibbs, RN, that time has been equally difficult. Suffering from PTSD, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, she battles the emotional demons of losing her boyfriend, Lynch Cully, to the same monster who twice attacked and nearly killed her three months earlier. Yet, enter Richard Nichols, an Army veteran recently returned from Afghanistan. His charm and confidence entice her. Yet, is he really who he says he is?
In a series of twists and turns, the four become embroiled in the battle against human trafficking. The results will affect not just their lives, but those of dozens of women caught up in the horrors of modern-day slavery. Like Danijela, these women are “undocumented aliens” brought to the U.S. under the promise of jobs and an education, only to be forced into slave labor and prostitution. Darko's criminal organization is powerful, well-armed, widespread...and rich enough to bribe politicians, policemen, and judges. But Jusuf and the others have vowed to fight, and bring Darko to justice. To do this they will need all their courage and determination ... guardian angels, and a miracle.

This is T.W. Fendley. You can find out more about me and my books at Thanks for reading and commenting on The Writers' Lens.

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