Saturday, September 24, 2011

Vaccine Nation's Characters

I had a dream the other night about a Martian easing the door to our bedroom open from the adjoining guest bedroom. It got to the point I felt I had no choice but to go in there and confront him before he entered. I had to protect Manette; as I started to pull the door open I also realized that Superman was off dealing with some other emergency, so it was all up to me. I don't remember whether Styles was there, and I don't know if Martians are afraid of pitbulls. Styles isn't much of a watchdog anyhow, and we've never seen him attack anyone or anything (he chases squirrels, but we're convinced he wouldn't know what to do with one if he caught up to it), although I like to think that if he saw Poppy in hand-to-hand combat with a Martian that he'd rise to the occasion and help me out. As I stepped around the moving door, my heart pounded. I awoke, gasping, to Manette shaking me and calling my name.

In a way it was refreshing, because I've been living--and sleeping--with the characters from Vaccine Nation, my upcoming thriller, all summer. I conked out on the sofa in the library the other day, and, half asleep, told Manette, "I need to get some drackume from Dani's ducks." She thought it was so funny she wrote it down on a blue post-it and stuck it to the top of the kitchen island. I saw it when I came down the next morning for my run, vaguely remembering it, and certain Manette didn't understand the profound significance of the words. Whatever.

Now it's fall and Dani North, Grover Madsen, Hunter Stark and Richard Blum are still inhabiting my brain. I've spent the last three days grinding through my editor's line-edits on Vaccine Nation. Now the hard part comes, muscling through his broader comments. That will involve reworking or completely rewriting key scenes, manipulating some plot elements, and, most importantly, pulling things out of the characters. I say pulling things out, because at this point I can't make anything up about them, or change them, because they are who they are, as evidenced by their visitations--waking and sleeping--throughout the summer. Tomorrow I'm heading up to the weekend house in Milford to isolate myself with them for 12 to 16 hour workdays. I still have things to record about their pasts. They need to tell me more about their passions. They need to reveal more of what their souls ache for and why. They have to show me why you should care about them as much as I do.

I'll be back when I'm done.

Read a sample of Vaccine Nation


  1. Could you please tell us the name of Manette's documentary and when it will be released? As a physician who chose not partially vaccinate her kids on an altered schedule, I face a lot of criticism. Nevertheless, I find the studies showing no harm to be limited at best and propagandistic at worst. I'm really terrified with each cough and cold, yet I am also very uncomfortable with the idea of shooting infants up with aluminum, viral particles, and other adjuvants. Anyway, I'm sorry this comment isn't about your book (which I did buy!), but I couldn't find a link via Google to the documentary. Thank you.

    1. The names of the films that Manette produced with Gary Null can be found on his website: There are two films related to vaccines, Vaccine Nation and Autism: Made in the USA. Thanks for purchasing Vaccine Nation. I hope you enjoy it.