Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas to Janet and Hank Lender

I ran a post on September 2nd, which would have been my father's 88th birthday, entitled "Hank Lender's Photographic Legacy."  I've reproduced the post below, with the addition of the cover photo I used for Vaccine Nation, my current thriller.  That photo, from the dock at Mom and Dad's house on Twin Lakes, PA, was the last he ever took.  Mom passed away a year and a half ago, and we sold the lake house just last week.  Now the photo has extra meaning.   Merry Christmas, Mom and Dad.
Copyright 2005 by Herman J. Lender
Dad was an accomplished man on many levels, including having a good sense of humor.  I was with him when Dr. Kimmel, his cancer surgeon, visited him the night before his final surgery.  The odds weren't good, and one of Dr. Kimmel’s final comments was that Dad’s chances of survival were, "miniscule."  After Dr. Kimmel left, Dad said, "Well, at least I don't have to worry about running out of money."

"The Man in White"
Copyright 2005 by Herman J. Lender

Then he got serious.  He made a rueful comment about "all this knowledge" he'd accumulated, and that it would pass on with him.  Dad seemed to be interested in just about everything—classical music, photography, opera, The Beatles, bread baking, gardening, finance, running; the list is endless—and after high school was totally self educated.  We talked about his legacy and I made the point that the knowledge he accumulated, his interest in things, and his intense approach to learning about them was something that would be carried on through his four sons and all his grandchildren.  Ironically, one thing we didn't talk about was his photography, a life-long interest of his.
Copyright 2005 by Herman J. Lender

My brothers and I grew up hearing about Leicas, Nikons, Hasselblad's, telephoto lenses, light meters and f-stops.  Dad built basement darkrooms in each of the three houses in Mt. Tabor we lived in growing up, then another in New Canaan after I went off to college.  We all experienced the magic of going into the darkroom with Dad and watching under a dim yellow bulb as Dad's 35mm black-and-white images appeared in the developer bath.  He taught us how to pick up a photo from the developer bath by the corner with the plastic tweezer, let it drain, then dunk it in the fixative, then in the water bath.  Sometimes I detect a scent that reminds me of those chemicals and it always takes me back to those days.

After Mom died a year ago, we went through all of Mom and Dad's things to close up her apartment.  They had tons of his framed prints on the walls and stacked in boxes in the closets; they’re still sitting in my attic because my brothers and I haven't finished divvying them up.  Most of Dad's 35mm negatives and his color slides are upstairs in their house at Twin Lakes.  But after we closed up Mom's apartment, I put all of Dad's digital collection—he converted to digital in 2000—on 16 GB USB flash memory drives and sent one to each of my brothers.  So that's another part of Dad's legacy we can all carry on.

Copyright 2005 by Herman J. Lender
The cover photos for all three of my books—Trojan Horse, The Gravy Train and Bull Street—are Dad's.  Dad's originals are presented here, before I cropped and Photoshopped the first two so the lettering would stand out on the covers.  Most think the pictures are of Wall Street, which was the image I intentionally tried to evoke based on the content of my books, but they're actually of Second Avenue and the 59th St. Bridge, taken from the balcony of Manette’s and my 24th floor apartment at 58th St. and Second Avenue in New York City.  Dad titled the photo for the Trojan Horse cover, at top left, "The Man in White."  If you look closely, you can see a man dressed completely in white jaywalking through the heavy traffic (he’s inside the “D” of “Lender” on the book’s cover).  The photo for the cover of The Gravy Train, at center, is about the same shot taken at night.  The Bull Street cover photo is at left, a night shot of the 59th St. Bridge.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Vaccine Nation--In the Tradition

Click cover to buy on Amazon
My new thriller, Vaccine Nation, is a fast-paced action thriller designed to entertain, but it also explores the very real issues in the current debate over vaccine safety in the mandatory U.S. National Immunization Program.  The book is now available on Amazon for pre-order for delivery November 22nd.  Please click on the book cover to order.

In Vaccine Nation, Dani North is a filmmaker who just won at the Tribeca Film Festival for her documentary, The Drugging of Our Children, a film critical of the pharmaceutical industry.  She’s also just started work on a new documentary on autism.  When a pharmaceutical industry vaccine researcher hands her smoking gun evidence about the U.S. National Immunization Program seconds before he’s murdered right in front of her, Dani finds herself implicated and pursued by the police.

Dani realizes what she’s been handed could have crucial implications on upcoming hearings by a Senate committee.  A key issue the Senate committee will consider is whether Congress should continue the immunity it granted in 1986 to the pharmaceutical industry for claims by parents on damage to their children from the U.S. National Immunization Program. That puts Dani on the run in a race to understand and expose the evidence.  That is, before the police can grab her, or Grover Madsen, a megalomaniacal pharmaceutical industry CEO, can have her hunted down by his hired killers.  Madsen knows exactly what Dani has and how explosive it is for the pharmaceutical industry: it has the potential to make the tobacco industry’s lawsuits and subsequent multi-billion dollar settlements seem like routine slip-and-fall cases.  Madsen uses all his company’s political and financial resources to track Dani.

The book’s pace is intended to be reminiscent of Six Days of the Condor (and the film it spawned, Three Days of the Condor), or Hitchcock’s North by Northwest.  The action of Vaccine Nation occurs over four breathtaking days.

The current debate in the U.S. on vaccine safety portrayed in the novel is real.  My primary inspiration for writing Vaccine Nation was my exposure to the vaccine debate through my fiancĂ©’s work as a documentary filmmaker in the health-related field, including films on ADHD and related drugging of children, and on vaccines and autism.  The facts in Vaccine Nation are accurate, based on my exposure to them through Manette’s films and my own research.  People will find some of them shocking.  For example, in 1986, Congress granted immunity to the pharmaceutical industry for liability related to their vaccines for the National Immunization Program.  Vaccines in the childhood vaccination schedule contain toxic substances like aluminum, formaldehyde and the chemical compound in anti-freeze.  The flu shot still contains thimerosal, a preservative that is 49.6% mercury.

The controversy represented in Vaccine Nation surrounding the safety and side effects of vaccines, and vaccines’ suspected relationship to the autism epidemic are still real.  The debate on vaccine safety is ongoing and increasing: recent CDC statistics show that 10% of parents (up from 2% to 3%.) are avoiding or delaying vaccinating their children because of concerns about vaccine safety.

As such, Vaccine Nation is a dramatization of this debate, presented in the form of a thriller that will hopefully both entertain you and make you think.

Read first chapter of Vaccine Nation

Buy Vaccine Nation:  Buy US   Buy UK 

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