Friday, September 29, 2023

Q&A with Audrey Gale




Audrey Gale is the author of the new historical novel The Human Trial. She also has written the novel The Sausage Maker's Daughters. She spent more than 20 years working in the banking industry, and she lives in Los Angeles.


Q: What inspired you to write The Human Trial, and how did you create your character Dr. Randall Archer?


A: Given how much research and learning was required to complete this book, I often wondered whether the universe had blessed or cursed me with the experiences that were my inspiration.


When I arrived in Los Angeles over three decades ago, my very sick Golden Retriever ultimately led me to a holistic veterinarian after multiple regular vets told me to put her down. The holistic vet even looked like Einstein, which should have been my first clue as to what was coming.


He seemed to practice weird science but was very forthcoming about his methods and upon whom they had been based. And my old dog lived another three years to 16, a very ripe old age for such a dog. I was intrigued and began researching, not terribly seriously at first.


Not long after, my father was diagnosed with leukemia and came to my house after his first—and last—chemo treatment, swearing he’d rather die than go through another.


When I suggested he come with me to my veterinarian, Dad said, “Well, what have I got to lose?” It was my vet who gave him a recording of sound vibrations related (through a scientific/physicist term, “harmonics”) to his disease that completely reversed his situation.


When he went back to his MDs, they pronounced his case to be “the damnedest case of spontaneous remission they’d ever seen.” His cure from my vet had to remain secret then as my vet would have been shut down, fined, and even jailed for practicing medicine on a human without a license. The AMA really frowns on that.


As for my main character, Dr. Randall Archer, he is a complete figment of my imagination, inspired by two men of science who worked together in the 1930s and whose collaborative discoveries took them far afield of medical science, then and still today.


I like him having so much to prove to himself and the world that he’s led astray. He is flawed but somehow, perhaps due to his tough beginnings, strangely sympathetic and with an admirable arc. Or at least, I hope, he’s interesting.


Q: How did you research the book, and did you learn anything that especially surprised you?


A: First I read everything I could about the scientists themselves and their discoveries. Then I attended a conference that dealt with those discoveries and their application. Then I worked with two professionals in the same fields as my fictional scientists: physics and medical pathology. All the while the reading had been ongoing.


And now the movie Oppenheimer is shedding light on part of the subject matter: quantum physics. What is surprising is quantum physics itself: there is nothing solid in the universe. We are all widely varying densities of energy.


And regardless of what our senses report to us, everything in creation is mostly empty space in which those energy packets (quanta) float, either repelling or attracting each other to coalesce. If you’re like me, it takes a while to wrap your head around all that! It is extremely counterintuitive.


Q: Did you know how the story would end before you started writing it, or did you make many changes along the way?


A: Yes and no. Given that the real-life characters which inspired my story ended badly, I was pretty sure there was no way around that ending, but I did veer from their bad endings for reasons of drama as well as continuity in the upcoming sequels.


The female lead was great fun to imagine from scratch. She’s not just a love interest but a very privileged woman well ahead of her times and station. The class distinction angle plays in other unexpected ways as well.


Q: What do you hope readers take away from the book?


A: I hope someone in the position to carry the scientific discoveries forward after they’ve been suppressed for 100 years—and counting—steps up to the table and does just that.


But I also hope all readers will become their own best advocates for their health and well-being. Question, read, study, be open-minded, and fight for themselves and each other, and while they’re at it, this earth as well.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: Truthfully, I’m spending most of my time now finishing the publication process and subsequent public relations and marketing of The Human Trial.


I’m anxious to get back to a fleshed-out sequel that moves the continuing story to the 1970s, when activism is still rampant, Nixon is about to leave the White House unceremoniously, and Vietnam is drawing to a humiliating close.


It’s another era like that of The Human Trial, the 1930s, fraught with enormous problems affecting everyone, and adding a nice backdrop of added pressure on the characters.


Q:  Anything else we should know?


A: I love history and historical fiction that brings it alive in a visceral way, and there’s plenty of that in The Human Trial. The decade of the 1930s went from the Great Depression and its far-reaching and devastating effects to its ending as another world war was breaking out.


I’m always concerned in life and in my writing with women, how they’re treated and judged, how they find their places regardless of that treatment. That will always be an element in my writing.


There are also factual hints at how medicine actually operates in the US throughout the story if readers look closely.


And in this novel, class distinctions also added additional pressure on my characters.


All of this is about building suspense to a climax that I hope will give readers a surprising and satisfying ride, and if I do my job well, food for thought.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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