Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Vaccine Nation and the Vaccine Safety Debate

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 

Visit David Lender's website

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Union Square

They have a farmers’ market in Union Square in New York City.  Manette once told me that famous chefs go there to purchase organic produce for their restaurants.  About a month later she told me the same thing.  The next month, too.  And the next month.  It's become a standing joke between us that any time anyone repeats herself, we tell the story about the famous chefs shopping for organic produce in Union Square.

We both watched an episode of the Dog Whisperer in which Cesar counseled a couple who owned a neurotic German Shepherd.  It seems the reason the Shepherd was frantic was because it was unable to fulfill its purpose in life.  Cesar gave it a backpack to carry around bottles of water--he must've seen the same cartoons I did as a kid where the St. Bernards had casks of brandy around their necks--and the dog was cured.

Styles isn't neurotic.  He knows his purpose.  So do we.  It's balls.

He chases them down and brings them back in the driveway.  Now that the pool is closed, he roams the entire back yard, running across the pool cover if necessary to retrieve them.  He chases them down at Staib Park, where the neighbors have an informal dog park at 5 p.m. every day.  There, Zac can throw the ball a few hundred feet and Styles tears after it to the amazement of everyone.  When he was a puppy he was fast.  Now he's unbelievable.  I can’t remember if Superman had a dog, but if he did, it would be Styles.
Styles in the goal

He’s also a soccer goalie between the kitchen and the dining room.  Any time of day he’ll stand there, in the doorway, his goal, waiting, poised to save a shot kicked at him.  He’ll slam his feet together to stop a rug-burner, or snap a lifted shot out of the air in his mouth.  If he isn’t in position, from any room in the house you say, “Get in the goal,” and he’s there in a flash.  We ask the neighboring kids, Nikki and Tina, to come over a few times a month, usually when we’re out, to play ball with Styles.  He knows that’s the only reason they’re there.  He goes crazy, jumping, then runs to find a ball and heads for the door.

Every other time I come into the house after playing ball with Styles out back I tell Manette that Styles' purpose in life is to chase balls.  Then she tells me about the famous chefs at Union Square.

Friday, October 7, 2011


Now that I’ve sent my edits back to Richard on Vaccine Nation, I’ve been catching up on my sleep, napping a lot, while I wait for him to send it back.  Yesterday, the day after Cindy’s birthday, I awakened from one and we went to Jack and Cindy’s to deliver her gifts and watch her open them.  It was about an hour before Styles' dinner time so I knew it would be a short visit, and I could get back to napping.   Styles’ dinner time didn’t matter.  I let Styles in their house and before I got one leg inside the door I heard his license and name tag clanging against Pita’s food bowls.  I forgot that Styles’ first objective on entering their house is always to ravage Pita’s food.  I’m sure he can’t understand why cats never finish their meals in one sitting, although he’s thrilled about it.  Both wet and dry bowls were almost gone by the time Manette rushed past me, grabbed him and placed the bowls on the counter. 

After Jack finished throwing treats to Styles—fifteen minutes or so, because Jack likes to make a game out of it and scatters them all over the living room so it takes Styles a while to sniff them all out—Cindy opened her gifts.  “Does it make me look fat?” she asked.  I thought of the Geico commercial in which Abraham Lincoln admits to Mary Todd that her dress does.  Cindy’s coat didn’t.  In my state of near narcolepsy—I was overcome with drowsiness and would have done anything for a snooze—I was tempted to tell her it did, just to see how she’d react.  I looked at Manette and smiled.  She gave me the partial juice for picking it out, but in truth I’d dozed at home while she and Zac had gone to Nordstrom’s. 

After Styles finished foraging the living room for treats, then wandered in and licked the kitchen floor, he settled on the sofa next to Manette, head in her lap.  She stroked his head between comments to Cindy about how to adjust the collar on the coat, then slid herself out from under him to help Cindy tie the belt.  Styles watched, then got comfortable again and dozed.

He doesn’t fidget at their house like he did when a puppy, and he and Pita have even learned to pass like ships on a calm sea.  He waited for Manette to sit back down and reassume her position as headrest.  Sometimes it about breaks Manny’s heart that he’s so loving with her.