Welcome to N. N. Light’s Interview Corner. Today, we’re thrilled to introduce you to Don C. Reed. A prolific writer and stem cell research advocate, Don’s a fascinating man. He agreed to sit down with me for an in-depth interview. We know you’ll learn a lot, as we sure did. Take it away, Don:
Q: What’s your writing process?
My writing process is simple: read a lot on whatever subject I am writing about, sleep on it, get up, drink some coffee, and start writing.
Q: Have any writing habits you’d like to share?
One odd writing habit is to carry around notes for the subject and read them at every opportunity, doing situps at the gym, or standing in line at the bank. This “pre-writing” stuffs the subconscious with material, so I am ready when it is time to shape thoughts into ink.
Q: Which authors have inspired you?
Authors who inspired me were: Jack Schaefer for the emotional clarity and action of SHANE; Louis L’Amour for his amazing discipline to produce such a mass of good entertainment; Edgar Rice Burroughs for the rip-roaring excitement (and wit) of TARZAN; Lee Child for the JACK REACHER series, accurate fight scenes; L.Frank Baum for the kindness and strong feminine heroes of the OZ series; Ernest Grahame for the gentle humor and beautiful descriptions of nature in the immortal classic WIND IN THE WILLOWS, which I read once a year to remind myself what great writing is about.
Q: What do you consider your best accomplishment?
My best accomplishment was writing 535 individual (non-computerized) letters to Congress, plus all California legislators, one of which led to the establishment of the Roman Reed Spinal Cord Injury Research Act of 1999, which raised $15 million in California research funding, while attracting $87 million in additional grants from the National Institutes of Health.
Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring authors? What about any marketing advice?
Best advice for aspiring authors is just to write every day. If you do, you are a writer; if not, not.
For marketing, keep on keeping on. I have never known what works, except what blind and deaf Helen Keller advised: “Nothing happens without optimism and persistence”. Do something marketing-oriented every day.
Q: What your biggest failure?
My biggest failure was in not learning how to speak Mandarin, despite 8 years of daily (self-taught) effort. About the most I can say is: “Wo shuode bu hao”, which means: “I speak not well”.
Q: Have you ever been in a fight?
My favorite fight came after 2 years of being bullied. An asthmatic weakling like the before pictures in the old Charles Atlas ads, I learned to lift weights, became strong and punched out my oppressor.
Q: What’s your biggest fear?
My biggest fear is to lose my beloved wife Gloria, who has given me joy for 48 years.
Q: What would you like your tombstone to say?
My tombstone (if there is room on it) would say: “Dear Friend who reads this now: remember, you have value.”
Q: Do you have any scars you’d like to share?
I have several scars from working with animals at Marine World Africa USA, including one on my left hand from a 500 pound loggerhead turtle named Chopper. I was feeding the reef tank, and she tried to bite the feed bag (I believe) and missed. I felt the bones bending in my hand, and knee-ed her in the stomach—no response, armor plating—same thing when I hit her head. I was screaming in my mind, when I thought to poke her in the eye. She released me, and gave me this hurt-feelings look like “why did you hurt me?” I felt like apologizing!
Q: How about recurring dreams?
One recurring dream I have is walking into my paralyzed son Roman’s room to help him with the necessaries—but he is not there! I think for an instant that he has died, but then I hear his voice behind me, saying “Hi, Dad”, and I turn and he is standing there, on his feet, cured, walking toward me: my son who has not stood on his own since his accident, 23 years ago….
Thank you, Don, for taking the time to visit N. N. Light’s Book Heaven.
Title: California Cures! How the California Stem Cell Program is Fighting Your Incurable Disease!
Author: Don C. Reed
Genre: Medicine, Stem Cell Research, Sciences
Thirteen years ago, America faced an epidemic of chronic disease: cancer, paralysis, blindness, arthritis, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes and more.
But California voters said "YES!" to a $3 billion stem cell research program: the awkwardly-named California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). Born into battle, the scrappy little state agency was immediately blocked by three years of anti-science lawsuits — but it defeated them all. And then?
A quiet triumph. With a focused intensity like the Manhattan Project (but for peaceful purposes, not to build a bomb), scientists funded by CIRM took on the challenges: disease and disability called chronic: incurable.
In a series of connected stories, accurate though written to entertain, "California Cures" relates a war: science against disease, with lives on the line. Think what it means for a paralyzed young man to recover the use of his hands, or for a formerly-blind mother to see her teenaged children — for the first time!
Do you know the "bubble-baby" syndrome? Infants without a proper immune system typically die young; a common cold can kill. But for eighteen babies in a stem cell clinical trial, a different future: they were cured of their disease.
No one can predict the pace of science, nor say when cures will come; but California is bringing the fight. The reader will meet the scientists involved, the women and men behind the microscope, and share their struggle.
Above all, "California Cures" is a call for action. Washington may argue about the expense of health care (and who will get it), but California works to bring down the mountain of medical debt: stem cell therapies to ease suffering, and save lives.
Will California build on success — and invest $5 billion more in stem cell research?
"We have the momentum", says author Don C Reed, "We dare not stop short. Chronic disease threatens everyone — we are fighting for your family, and mine!"
Introduction: Evangelina and the Golden State
The Absolute Minimum You Need to Know First
To Breathe, or Not to Breathe
The Strongest Man in the World
When the Dolphin Broke My Ear
The Boy with Butterfly Skin
The Great Baldness "Comb-Over" Replacement?
"He Sees! He Sees!"
Cop at the Window
"Go West, Young (Wo