28 September 2016

Son of Thalidomide

I was having a nice chat with my chemo doctor Tuesday. I asked him to recommend for me a book or paper that would explain in detail how my daily drug Revlimid works. All I knew prior to that question was that it was a derivative of the dreaded anti-nausea medication Thalidomide, and that it somehow prevented the creation of new blood vessels, thereby killing off cancer cells the way its parent drug killed off the creation of arms and legs in babies in the 1950s.

He explained that scientists don’t know how Revlimid works. He clarified that it enters the bone marrow (where my cancer comes from) and kills off the cancer cells. Okeh. Then he told me that my kind of cancer was originally treated with Thalidomide.

Color me surprised. I hadn’t heard that. Although it helped, the original treatment had so many side effects that some clever doctor figured out what exactly in Thalidomide worked against the cancer and pulled out that small part -- resulting in Revlimid, what my doctor called “the first designer drug.” 

Revlimid, in general, has few side effects and those are pretty mild. Thankfully, I’ve had virtually none of them, so that makes me really happy. According to my doctor, my numbers are still doing really well and that makes him really happy. I guess the situation is the best it could possibly be for a cancer that I’ll have the rest of my life and a drug that I’ll keep taking for the same length of time.

23 September 2016

Everything You Wanted to Know About the "James Murray Mysteries" but were Afraid to Ask

The 1930s were a long time ago and Los Angeles a very different world. And now, a year after the last James Murray Mystery was published, I've published an encyclopaedia of sorts that explains all the little inside jokes, esoteric bits and pieces of historic information, and the background behind some of the choices I made as the author of the five novels set in 1930s Los Angeles.

The James Murray Mysteries Companion is filled with all kinds of information -- like the actual people who were the basis for the mysterious Miss Compton and the dashing Buddy Rogers in the first novel. The origin of Scott Hobby in the second novel. The real person behind the fictional scientist in the third novel. (Hint: he’s not a scientist!) Why I chose baseball as the setting for the fourth novel. Some of the famous Hollywood stars who have cameos in the fifth novel.

You’ll uncover my favorite actress, my favorite movie, my favorite dessert and my favorite restaurant in Los Angeles as they all make appearances in one or more of the novels. I also explain how a real-life medical condition of mine was used to inform the plots of two of the novels.

So, sit back, relax and discover some of the secrets contained in the five James Murray Mysteries

[You’ll find the link to the book in the column to the right called “My Books.”]