Saturday, August 2, 2014

"The Unexpected Consequences of Iron Overload" by James Minter

The Unexpected Consequences of Iron Overload
by James Minter

Author James Minter joins me today for an interview about his book, The Unexpected Consequences of Iron Overload. You can download a FREE copy of your own from Instafreebie. You can also enter the giveaway for a chance to win one of five paperback copies (open internationally). This book is an awareness raiser for the genetic disorder, Hemochromatosis.

Jimmy Kavanagh has a genetic condition where he absorbs and stores iron from his diet over and above the body's requirements (Hemochromatosis). He is unaware of this. As time progresses, with increased ferritin levels he exhibits many traits of storing iron: oxidization (rusting), becoming magnetized, and having strong bones (excess iron is stored in bone marrow). Through various childhood experiences he realizes he is different but doesn't know why.
After a significant event in which he saves Barbara, the woman of his dreams, from possible death he realizes he can control his magnetism. His life is further complicated after coming to the attention of the KGB who are interested in all things paranormal, and the CIA who are determined to stop the Russians.
Life for Jimmy is further complicated by Sheila. Her father is Irish, though she was born in Australia. Unbeknownst to her she also has Hemochromatosis but of course, being from the Southern hemisphere, her polarity is reversed.
Will Jimmy and Barbara live happily ever after? Can he manage to thwart the Russians and the CIA? Since opposites attract, does his future lie with Sheila?

‘You took your time.’ Rob was at his desk as Jimmy strolled over to him. He looked like the cat who got the cream. ‘No, don’t tell me details; the look on your face says it all. But Barb’s been back here for ages. Where have you been till now?’
Jimmy was aware open plan offices don’t afford much privacy: ‘Look, I don’t want to broadcast what happened last night. Early days and all that, you know.’
‘Mum’s the word. Oh and by the way, thanks for what you two did. The Missus is really grateful. She’s out right now getting a few things she’ll need for the cruise, and we haven’t even booked it yet.’
‘Great. Where’s Barb, by the way?’ Jimmy surveyed the office, hoping to see her.
‘She said she was going up town to get a sandwich. We’ve got that debrief meeting with Mike at two.’ Rob noticed the time. ‘If you want lunch you better look sharpish.’
‘I’m fine, had a full English at an excellent cafĂ© near the hotel, and it was free.’
‘How come it was free?’ Rob was curious.
‘I was treated by a couple of journalists, foreign guys. Sounded Eastern European or even Russian. They were from some science journal, Paranormal Events, or some such thing. They’re very interested in me, kept asking loads of questions. Said they saw it on the news and knew they had to talk to me. You should have seen them. I think they’ve been watching too many old films. They reminded me of Bogart or Maigret, with their trilbies and trench coats.’
The sound of the rain beating off the windows drew the attention of Rob and Jimmy. They wandered over to look.
‘Look at that. I’m here just in time.’ Jimmy saw Barb running for all she was worth. ‘She’ll be soaked through.’ He pointed to a rather pathetic figure more reminiscent of a drowned rat than his beautiful Barb. Her blonde hair clung to her head and shoulders, her smart Armani suit was soaked and her red patent leather opened toed three-inch heel sandals, so much her trademark around the office, were of no use against the deluge.
Both men watched helplessly; they said nothing.
‘There.’ Jimmy pointed. For a brief second he caught sight of Bogart and Maigret. Rob followed his finger. They’d long gone, having been pushed into reception by everyone ducking for cover.
‘What was it?’
‘Oh nothing, I’m imagining things. Where’s this meeting, in Mike’s office?’
‘No, there’s too many so he’s moved it to Meeting Room 3.’
Jimmy checked the wall clock. ‘I’m going down to see if I can help Barb.’
‘Out of her wet clothes, no doubt.’ Rob winked at him.
As they were on the first floor Jimmy ran down the stairs. It was quicker than waiting for the lift, but still not quick enough. Barb was nowhere to be seen. He milled around for a few moments hoping she’d come out of the Ladies, but no such luck. Wandering down the corridor to Meeting Room 3 he was first to arrive. Trying the handle, he found it locked. I wonder, he thought. Taking hold of the handle and concentrating hard, he sensed a connection with the metal. After a series of clicks, the handle freed and the door swung open. He was so intent on opening the door he failed to notice Barb arrive. She’d taken off her shoes and jacket and was now standing beside him. Her bedraggled blonde hair clung to her white blouse, turning it transparent. She looked ravishing. Actually, she looked more ravaged. Jimmy jumped back in surprise.
‘Barb I didn’t know you were there.’
‘I was getting the key but it looks like I don’t need it.’
He scanned the corridor, checking the coast was clear before planting a kiss.
‘Jimmy, not here!’
‘I couldn’t help it, you look so …’ His words dried up.
‘So what?’ She waited. ‘Wet is what you’re trying to say.’
‘No, well, yes. But beautiful.’
She blushed and pushed past him into the room. Soon there were half a dozen people sitting around the large table, including Rob. Mike walked in last.
‘Does anyone know how to use the VHS player?’ He waited for a response. ‘Come on, we’re a technical computer software company. Someone must be able to use it. My daughter’s only five and she plays her Disney films all the time.’
‘Well maybe you ought to get your daughter in then!’
‘Thanks Jimmy, very helpful. Since you’re being so lippy, here.’ Mike slid the cassette across the table to him. ‘Anyway, it’s you in action.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘It’s an edited copy of the Windows launch. It was couriered this morning. Come on, we’re waiting.’
He placed the cassette into the player as Rob shut the blinds. Mike switched out the lights. The screen came to life. Cue numbers used by professional filmmakers played. In unison, everyone, apart from Mike, counted down.
‘Five, four, three, two, one …’
‘You lot are worse than sodding school kids.’ Mike sounded genuinely hacked off. From there on everyone was focussed.
The music was loud, passing through the partition wall with ease. It got the Russians’ attention.
‘Here, quick.’ Vladimir passed Oleg a glass tumbler from the hospitality tray. Both men placed them against the wall and listened intently.
‘It is recording of computer software launch at Grosvenor.’
‘Are you sure?’ Oleg needed convincing.
‘Pay attention, zere is only one Bill Gates.’ They listened some more. ‘I wonder if the tower falling is on there.’ No sooner had Vladimir finished speaking than a gasp came from the next room.
‘Zere, did you hear that?’
In the meeting room, Mike stopped the cassette and replayed the section again. It was clear to everyone Jimmy was a hero. Most of the delegates sitting around the table in the direct path of the tower were Zylog staff or major customers. Barbara was plainly visible seated next to Rob. Being Account Manager for Land Registry and National Audit Office, two major Government customers, she had senior IT Civil Servants sitting with her.
Mike hit the slow motion button for everyone to see Jimmy leaping from his seat in response to the cracking and flashing as the tower collapsed.
‘What on earth did you think you could do?’ Mike sounded sceptical.
‘I didn’t think. I just knew Barbara — I mean, the whole table — were in danger and I had to do something.’
In the dark of the meeting room no one saw her blush.
‘So what are you doing now?’ Mike paused the video at the point where Jimmy was holding out his arms. He moved on, frame by frame. It was clear the tower shifted off to the right, away from the table and out of harm’s way. What was not clear was his role. Did he move or influence its trajectory or did one of the many leads attached to it pull the tower?
Mike saw the sales potential of Jimmy’s action and was happy to believe the former.
‘We owe you, Jimmy Kavanagh, all of us. If you hadn’t done …’ he paused for words, ‘whatever you did, we’d be several staff down, never mind a few major customers light.’ His gratitude was evident. As Mike finished speaking a general buzz of excitement filled the room as everyone talked ten to the dozen. It was still dark. Jimmy felt a hand under the table slide across his lap and give him a squeeze. He sensed Barb next to him.
She leant in, her mouth almost touching his ear. ‘Hey, big boy.’ He could feel her warm breath. It sent shivers down his spine. ‘I’ve not finished with you yet.’
‘Lights.’ Mike had taken back control. The meeting rumbled on, discussing the sales strategy for Microsoft Windows, availability, technical support and so forth. Jimmy tried to look interested and stay focussed. In truth, his mind was making passionate love to Barb on some distant Bahaman island, just the two of them. He now realised she was the one for him.
‘We got to get copy.’ Vladimir paced around the training room. ‘It is close; I almost feel it.’
The sound of chairs moving followed by a lack of noise from the meeting room suggested it was now empty.
‘Quick, let us hope zey not locked door.’ Vladimir had the training room door open enough to look down the corridor. It was all clear. He tiptoed his way to the meeting room and tried the handle. It turned. Within seconds he was inside, searching for the video player. Right at the table’s centre, tantalisingly, it waited for him. Power on, it hummed into life. ‘Eject, where eject button?’ he said, frantically trying to make sense of the controls.
‘Here Vladimir.’ Oleg was holding the remote control. He pressed the eject button. The cassette holder popped up. It was empty.
‘Damn. Okay, we need plan.’
Oleg pulled the door shut. He heard noises coming from the training room. ‘Ok, maybe we not have all luck but we got out from next door in time.’
‘It is nearly five, zey soon go home. We stay here zen can search building once zey are gone.’ Vladimir relaxed.

Featured Review
This tale is a clever one, taking a relatively unknown medical condition called Haemochromatosis and introducing it to the reading public in an informative and creative way. Haemochromatosis is a genetic disorder in which the body absorbs more iron that it needs. This book was written based on the author's own experiences with this condition and to raise funds for the Haemochromatosis Society. Although there is a brief preface before the story begins explaining a bit about this condition and the author's own history with it, this is not a book that is heavy with scientific facts nor is it monotonous in the telling. James Minter gives his readers just enough information to understand Haemochromatosis and to help us better see things from his main character's perspective. This introduction, including a foreword from the founder and chair of the Haemochromatosis Society, was done just right and gives a wonderful introduction to a funny and charming story.
James, who is English, was curious to find out how his story would be perceived by an American audience. I found this book to be very entertaining and well written, sprinkled generously with humor that made me laugh out loud and characters who were filled with personality and color. I very much enjoyed the author's talent at writing such wonderful dialogue, the characters bouncing easily off of one another and interacting in the most pleasing way. He describes the streets and places of London just enough so that the reader becomes familiar with the setting, and the turn of phrase is definitely English but intriguingly so. I found The Unexpected Consequences of Iron Overload to be a very fun novel to read and was grateful for the opportunity to do so.
As with any book, there were of course characters I enjoyed more than others. There are two Russian spies who constantly had me giggling with their loose grasp on the English language. I was intrigued with Jimmy Kavanaugh, the main character, and the unique way in which he experiments with and uses his medical condition. My favorite character was Sheila who speaks with a Cockney accent. I read her slowly simply because I loved hearing her words in my head. This woman was written with such vibrancy that I actually longed to meet and spend the afternoon with her. I was, truthfully, a bit disappointed in the way the two American CIA agents were depicted. It was disheartening to see Americans portrayed as dimwitted and incapable, but even with that said, I have to note that these two characters were still very likable and interesting.
I had no idea what to think at the beginning of this novel but it carried itself well. James is a talented writer who knows how to construct his prose and I was entertained throughout. He gives an extra bonus at the end by throwing in a plot twist I didn't see coming but was very pleased and satisfied by. All in all this was a very intriguing novel and well worth the read.

Interview With the Author
Hi James Minter, thanks for joining me today to discuss your book, The Unexpected Consequences of Iron Overload.
For what age group do you recommend your book?
The book is for adults although there are no adult themes as such. No profanities, explicit sex or violence.
What sparked the idea for this book?
There is a medical condition called Hemochomatosis where a defective gene causes the body to absorb too much iron. Iron is an essential mineral for life but in excess, it’s a poison. Because we are living longer, eating better and many foods are iron enriched, our iron intake has substantially increased. The net effect is people with the defective gene – around 1 in 8 - are being slowly poisoned. Although the condition has been around forever, because of the factors mentioned, it is now a real danger causing much unnecessary suffering which could easily be avoided. Awareness education in the first place, for the general public and the medical profession, is essential. The presenting symptoms are many and varied but start mild like mood swings, lethargy, depression, and loss of libido and move to liver damage, type II diabetes, heart arrhythmia/heat attacks, pituitary gland issues, dementia, and death. The treatment is bloodletting – like a donor session - to use up stocks of excess iron stored in the body. Because there is no money to be made from the treatment, drug companies are not interested, and therefore little research or publicity has been done.
It’s a genetic condition meaning if one family member is diagnosed, then all immediate blood relatives need their ferritin (measure of stored iron) assessed via a simple cheap blood test. But it seems there is a difficulty within families of talking about the condition. This book acts as an awareness raiser – the Preface discusses the condition - and an ice breaker. Since the story is a humorous fiction thriller, people are prepared to talk about/share the book more readily.
Very informative, James. Which comes first? The character's story or the idea for the novel?
My belief is that laughter is a great remedy. So I wanted to write a book to make people laugh. Although it’s a deadly serious subject and I have the condition, I’m not a medical person. So I came up with a paranormal, romantic spoof thriller as a vehicle to get over a serious point. The main protagonist – Jimmy Kavanagh – has the condition but he is unaware. However, he has absorbed so much iron he is now magnetic. The book tells the story of Jimmy, with perceived “powers” his magnetism gives him.
What was the hardest part to write in this book?
Believable nonsense; its fiction but I want people to have to think twice about whether this could really happen
How do you hope this book affects its readers?
To make them smile or better laugh; to see there is always a funny side to every situation; to discuss/share the book with others so the awareness of the condition spreads.
How long did it take you to write this book?
Five months (85,000 words).
What is your writing routine?
I write longhand – good old fashioned paper and pen. I use A4 wire-bound hardback books. I only write on the right-facing page and use the left page for notes to myself about plot ideas, facts to check, character biographic info, etc. I prefer mornings 07:30 to 12:30 with eye/bum breaks every hour. Of course the whole lot is fuelled by copious amounts of tea and coffee. Once the first draft is completed I dictate it to my wife who is a 100 word-per-minute typist. Reading it aloud is the first editorial pass. Thereafter I get my writing coach’s input and start the rewrites/edits/additions/deletions, etc., until I have a draft fit for beta readers. Finally there is copy editing, formatting, cover design, and all the usual things associated with a launch.
How did you get your book published?
Amazon’s Createspace.
What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?
You need a breadth of content (one book is not enough), take it slow from inception to publishing - many writers want to get it out there too quickly; remember you can always make it better and it’s your duty to do the best you can - you owe it to your readers. Use professional people to do structural edits, copy edits, cover design, plus setting yourself up with a website and social media accounts; remember, promotion takes as much time if not more than writing; don’t rely on friends and family - they lose interest too quickly nor are they as committed as much as you; enter competitions; do off-line marketing as much as on-line; remember people buy from people so recommendations are vital; and apart from the lucky few, you are unlikely to make a fortune from book sales alone.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Photography, walking/cycling – we live in the South of France; enjoying food and wine and the climate.
What does your family think of your writing?
My children, now adults, are supportive, super-critical and secretly proud; my wife has to put up with me floating ideas, discussing plot twists, listening to me reading, and typing. The enthusiasm of the extended family has waned.
Please tell us a bit about your childhood.
I’m a third child and only boy. My family were decimated by Hemochromatosis but, at the time (1975), we didn’t know what it was. My mother and sister took their own lives and my father died from bowel cancer (iron is a source of free radicals in the large intestine). Despite all that, I had a very happy childhood. We lived in the country and I spent most of my time playing in vast woodlands that surrounded our house.
Did you like reading when you were a child?
My mother was from Ireland and a great storyteller. She always told me a bedtime story. It was she who sparked my imagination. In fact my first book, The Hole Opportunity, is based on the kernel of an idea she planted in my brain when I was four years old or thereabouts.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
By chance; my wife and I decide to have an extended holiday in 2009. I took a pad of paper just in case I wanted to capture ideas. I owned a small computer company at the time and was always trying to think of new revenue streams, business ideas and the like. Instead I wrote 40,000 words straight off. I just watched my hand, with pen, deliver a stream of consciousness. After months of additional writing, editing, proofing it became my first book, The Hole Opportunity. And the first in a trilogy.
Fantastic! Thanks for taking the time to join us today, James. Best of luck with your upcoming projects.

About the Author
James is an award-winning full time fiction author. Prior, he spent 35 years in the IT industry and wrote a wide range of non-fiction IT subjects including many hundreds of training manuals.
He turned his attention to fiction during the summer of 2009. Armed with an A4 pad and ballpoint pen he unleashed a stream of consciousness - some 40,000 words before drawing a breath. The writing experience with such unbridled passion was new to him: a far cry from technical authoring. The excitement of not knowing where it was going but having an evolving story with a host of characters spurred him on. The Hole Opportunity was the product of his imagination and the first in a series of titles to be completed. The Unexpected Consequences of Iron Overload followed a year later. This book, paranormal, spoof thriller, was written to raise awareness of a genetic medical condition, Hemochromatosis, and to raise funds for the Haemochromatosis Society. James has the condition.
Born 1952 in Oxfordshire, UK, James draws on his local knowledge to provide inspiration and settings for his characters, locations for his plots, and the mid-twentieth century for his historic anchors.
He is currently writing book three of the Hole Trilogy - Marmite Makes a Sandwich, Dynamite Makes a Hole, and continues to raise funds/awareness for Hemochromatosis, as well as sharing his experiences of self-publishing and self-promotion with other indie authors via his website, blog, and by participating in various writing forums.
Fully behind the notion of self-publishing, James is very conscious of quality and professionalism incumbent on all authors to give his readers the best experience he can. To this end he is a Professional Member of the Alliance of Independent Authors.

Enter the giveaway for a chance to win one of five paperback copies of The Unexpected Consequences of Iron Overload by James Minter (open internationally).