December 20, 2007

From the Depths author Gerry Doyle in the Chicago News-Star

December 12, 2007
the Chicago News-Star

It's night, and somewhere off the East Coast of the United States, the Dragon, a defecting North Korean submarine surfaces in the dark water of the Atlantic Ocean. When the U.S. Navy sends a boarding party to investigate, they discover the sub is filled with the mutilated and poisoned bodies of its crew.

Those images surfaced crystal-clear in Lincoln Square author Gerry Doyle's mind a couple years ago and, being a journalist, he decided to pursue and see where those images led.

Trailing a tale

The trail led Doyle, who originally planned a short story about the sub, to writing his first novel, From the Depths, (McBooks Press, $23.95), a thriller published on Nov. 1 to positive early reviews. On the other hand, the very first review of the novel in Publisher's Weekly left something to be desired.

"It started off in fairly glowing terms and then quickly took a turn to the snide that was a little unpleasant," said Doyle, 31. "But there have been a couple very favorable reviews in Booklist and Library Journal. They were both very positive and I had that feeling of, "Wow, I don't know these people and they're saying something nice about my book.' It's a gratifying feeling."

Doyle and other local mystery novelists are scheduled to sign copies of their books at 7 p.m. Dec. 19, at The Book Cellar, 4736 N. Lincoln Ave.

Striving to solve the mystery of the crew's death is Dr. Christine Myers, a CIA forensic scientist accompanying a party of Navy SEALs. But as she pieces together the clues CSI-style, things get even stranger, and the SEALs begin dying.

Doyle cites the influence of Stephen King and Elmore Leonard, master novelists whose books have frequently made the transition to the silver screen. Having From the Depths turned into a movie is something that Doyle has allowed himself to dream about.

In the role of Christine Myers, Doyle envisions Grace Park, an actress best known for playing Sharon Valerii on "Battlestar Galactica." "The story is very cinematic in a lot of ways, so I think it will lend itself well to the screen," he said.

Friendly advice

Doyle wrote his first draft in 6-8 weeks, then spent the next year polishing the novel and whipping it into shape. A former police reporter and current metro copydesk editor at the Chicago Tribune, Doyle knew exactly where to go to research areas such as a sub's mechanical operations. And he said he is very fortunate in having friends, colleagues and family members with expertise that he could draw from.

"A good friend of mine is a doctor and she was able to hold my hand and walk me through a lot of the medical aspects of a forensic examination," he said. "There are many important elements of the story, like the forensics and how the cause of death is determines and why a body is lying in a certain position. Making sure you get all those details correct and believable is important. If readers don't believe what you have to say, the whole story is going to look like window dressing."

With his creative juices pumping, Doyle has just completed the first draft of his second novel, one that he likes even better than From the Depths. But then again, there's nothing quite as special to an author as a first novel.

"The fun thing for me was that I sold the book two weeks before my 30th birthday," Doyle said. "I'll always be able to say I sold my first novel before I turned 30."


7 p.m. Dec. 19, at The Book Cellar, 4736 N. Lincoln Ave. (773) 293-2665.

December 14, 2007

Alan Lewrie Naval Adventures #7 - A King's Commander available now!

Synopsis: It's 1793 and Alan Lewrie is now commander of HMS Jester, an 18-gun sloop. Spoiling for adventure as always, Lewrie sails into Corsica only to receive astonishing orders: He must lure his archenemy, French commander Guillaume Choundas, into battle--and personally strike the malevolent spymaster dead! With Horatio Nelson as his squadron commander on one hand and a luscious courtesan who spies for the French on the other, Lewrie must pull out all the stops if he’s going to live up to his own reputation and bring glory to the British Royal Navy any way he can . . .

“You could get addicted to this series. Easily.”
The New York Times Book Review

“Fast-moving at sea, nicely lewd ashore, a hugely likeable hero, a huge cast of sharply drawn supporting characters; there’s nothing missing. Wonderful stuff.”
Kirkus Reviews

The NYT Book Review of Lewrie #5, The Gun Ketch:

Up to now, Alan Lewrie, the hero of Dewey Lambdin's sea going series, has been a figure whose libido governs his behavior. So what is he doing at the beginning of THE GUN KETCH ? Getting married, that's what. Can so notorious a young rakehell find happiness with just one woman?

The period is the late 1780's, and Lieutenant Lewrie has taken command of H.M.S. Alacrity, a ketch assigned to the Bahamas squadron. His major job will be to hunt down pirates. So off to the Bahamas he sails, his new wife on board.

Mr. Lambdin follows the Horatio Hornblower tradition of C. S. Forester. There is detailed knowledge of the British Navy, the age of sail, warfare at sea and even the customs of the gentry. Of course the dialogue abounds in naval talk: "Take a second reef in the gaff courses, now we've unbalanced her by taking in the flying jib. Trim her until you're satisfied. Hank on a storm trys'l and bare the tack corner for a balance on her head. Able seamen only out on the sprit tonight, mind."

And while Lewrie is not so complicated a figure as Horn blower, he is an agreeable young man, highly competent, brave and imaginative. There are sections where the author is laying the foundation for a Lewrie legend. It may be that the action in "The Gun Ketch" is predictable. But it is also lively and amusing.

December 11, 2007

Literary Inspiration with Photographers Derek Doeffinger and Gary Whelpley

Visual Inspiration: Photographers of Finger Lakes Splendor

Editor's Note: This is a photographer's version of the Literary Inspiration column of the Ithaca Journal, which runs in Saturday's Life section.

Derek Doeffinger & Gary Whelpley

What is your favorite place to photograph?

Doeffinger: No secret hideaway, no back road vista, but simply the spectacular Taughannock Falls whose open expanse from the overlook makes you feel like you leap out and fly with the flock of pigeons that soar by.

Whelpley: In the Finger Lakes I find the glens that are throughout the hills provide interesting photographs of waterfalls, beautiful leaf patterns, and colorful reflections in the fall.

When do you get most of your photo editing done?

Doeffinger: On dark, dreary winter nights when you flick on the outdoor light and see the snow flying.

Whelpley: With digital photography such a big part of my life, I do a quick edit of my work and then put the best images in a folder that identifies the particular subject. If I didn't do this I would have hundreds of images lost in digital space!

Name two photography books that have inspired you?

Doeffinger: Jeff Wignall's “The Joy of Digital Photography” and Naomi Rosenblum's “World History of Photography.”

Whelpley: There are two books that I find inspire my personal work today. Both of these photographers work in black and white. “25 Years of Photographs” by Keith Carter and “Witnesses of Time” by Flor Garduno

Favorite photographer?

Doeffinger: Ansel Adams, who could manipulate images with chemistry almost as effectively as we do today with Photoshop.

Whelpley: While Ansel Adams has always been at the top as my favorite photographer, Keith Carter is my favorite. He inspires me to see the people and spaces in a new way.

Digital or film?

Doeffinger: Digital with Photoshop. A digital camera gives you amazing power to improve images during picture taking and Photoshop afterwards.

Whelpley: For commercial work and the book project I use Nikon digital cameras, but for personal work I shoot Tri-X film and scan the negatives with A Cool Scan 4000 scanner. They are then printed with an Epson 2400 printer.

What do you want people to take away from your work?

Doeffinger: Another five books for their friends.

Whelpley: As people view the “Finger Lakes Splendor” book, I hope they realize the diversity and beauty of this place we call home. We must protect and preserve these treasures. I have traveled all over the world on assignments and have come to realize how fortunate we are to live here.

What do you love most about being a photographer?

Doeffinger: Getting outdoors to see the spectacular sights. Not the money—there isn't any in this kind of work.

Whelpley: I love the fact that photography gives me a vehicle to explore and capture the land and the people. I so often find that taking the photograph is the high point of the process. Many times it's several months or years later that the images appear as special as the moment I pressed the shutter release on the camera, and I truly appreciate that moment in time.

What are you working on now?

Doeffinger: Finishing up a how-to photo book by the title of “The Complete Guide to Ultimate Digital Photography.”

Whelpley: My current personal work is a black-and-white project in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Each winter I spend a month there photographing the people and their traditions as well as the beautiful architecture.

Derek Doeffinger & Gary Whelpley are the photographers of “Finger Lakes Splendor,” a photo book published by McBooks Press located in Ithaca.