Return to site

Dirty Half Dozen: An Interview with Lance Carney by John Martin

John Martin: Is there a new novel in the works? What’s it about?

Lance Carney: I am currently working on a new Oak Island book, although this one will have new characters and be more of a mystery (humorous of course). There may be some crossover characters; after all, Oak Island is only about ten miles long. The title of the new book is so witty, so catchy, that I’m afraid to reveal it too early (I know, paranoia will destroya).

JM: You’re a pharmacist yourself, right? Don’t pharmacists suffer from the same handwriting affliction doctors have that makes anything they write difficult to understand?
LC: I actually received a gold star or two in elementary school on my writing papers. But as I age and continue to decipher physicians’ chicken scratch, I find my own handwriting beginning to deteriorate. Last week I wrote tomatoes and peanut butter on the grocery list and my wife brought back tofu and pickled pigs feet. That was hard to digest.

JM: Daniel O’Dwyer gets a few injuries along the course of this novel. Are you just mounting a case for pharmacists like yourself to be paid danger money?

LC: Pharmacy is a dangerous profession; don’t let anyone tell you different. Besides the time I dropped and broke an ampule of dimercaprol and the pharmacy was filled with the smell of rotten eggs, there was what I call the great leech escape. Medicinal leeches are sometimes used to stimulate circulation in patients with skin grafts or fingers/toes that have been reattached. (Leech spit is good stuff filled with several types of drugs.) One time we had to send for leeches from another hospital several miles away and they were sent by taxi (now there’s a funny visual). We received the leeches in a large, sealed ointment jar. Another pharmacist and I wanted to see what the leeches looked like so we removed the lid. What we didn’t realize is medicinal leeches should be stored in a cold environment because they aren’t active in cold. Apparently the taxi ride was rather warm because the leeches immediately started trying to slither out the top of the jar. I grabbed a pencil and my partner grabbed a ruler and we began beating the bloody suckers back into the jar. I think I broke a sweat that day, so yes, pharmacists deserve danger money.

JM: When did you start writing, and why?

LC: We had to write a short story in high school and I really enjoyed it. I didn’t write again until I was out of college. I told my friend I had written a short story, he looked at me funny and said he had too. Then we began furiously writing short stories together and apart and submitting them to small press horror and sci-fi magazines. (The best of those stories are gathered in the ebook Fin and Tonic, Talon and Tombstone.)

JM: Where do your characters come from?

LC: Some are caricatures of actual people I have met (shhh-don’t tell them), but most are amalgamations of several different people, both real and fictional, all rolled into one.

JM: Describe your writing process. Did this book grow organically as you wrote it or did you plan it all before you wrote it?
LC: The writing process for the second novel seems much easier; the first novel I really didn’t know what I was doing. Now I still don’t know what I’m doing but I think I know what I’m doing, so it’s all good. I don’t have enough spare time to write an outline and plan the books as well as write them, so they are all devised in my head. I have a basic plot and a few characters in mind and I just start and see where the characters and the story take me. That is the exciting part for me (my wife claims I’m easily amused though).