Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Story Behind The Redeeming Power of Brain Surgery by Paul Flower

For most of my life, I’ve lived in southwest Michigan’s beach country. Here, during the summer, wealthy tourists from Chicago and other big Midwestern cities mingle with small-town locals––blue-collar workers and rednecks. I spend a lot of time standing in lines at stores wondering if the guy next to me might have murdered someone.

That was the inspiration, or at least the fuel, that led to my novel, The Redeeming Power of Brain Surgery. It portrays twin brothers who grew up here. Today one is a wealthy Chicago brain surgeon and the other works in a factory in their southwest Michigan hometown. The brain surgeon has come home to make sure their horrifying, decades-old secret stays buried.

I wrote the first draft about 30 years ago. Back then I had a growing family, a busy job as an advertising copywriter, and a goal of becoming a novelist. But I couldn’t get a publisher to buy this novel and couldn’t find an agent to represent it. The big publishing houses ruled the industry. Publishers wouldn’t look at manuscripts that weren’t represented by agents; agents wouldn’t represent authors who had not been published.

Over the years that followed, I was told several times that it was a very intriguing book, but no one would bite. By the early 2000s, I pretty much had given up on The Redeeming Power of Brain Surgery ever being published.

Then in 2009, the economy crashed just as the digital age put the squeeze on the advertising industry. I lost my job and was forced to become a freelancer.

One day, as I was was browsing craigslist for writing opportunities, I found a post from Jennifer Baum, an entrepreneur who was launching a publishing house, Scribe Publishing, in suburban Detroit. She was looking for manuscripts from Michigan authors. After another quick edit, I sent her the finished manuscript for The Redeeming Power of Brain Surgery. She bought it.

I have always loved this story and its characters. But its publication is as much a result of market factors colliding as perseverance. I lost my job, in part due to the digital revolution. Scribe Publishing and similar independent publishers are a result of that revolution. In a way, so is The Redeeming Power of Brain Surgery.

About The Book

The Redeeeming Power of Brain Surgery

TitleThe Redeeming Power of Brain Surgery: A Suspense Novel 
Author: Paul Flower
Publisher: Scribe Publishing Company
Publication Date: June 1, 2013
Pages: 250
ISBN: 978-0985956271
Genre: Susepense
Format: Paperback, eBook (.mobi / Kindle), PDF

Book Description:

Jesse Tieter, M.D. has carefully constructed the ideal life. But lately, neither his Chicago-based neurology practice nor his wife and son are enough to suppress the memories that have haunted him since he was a little boy. He can't stop thinking about that summer day in 1967 when his father died.

So Jesse is heading back. Back to the town and the place where a long-repressed horror occurred. Back to make sure his twin keeps the family's secret buried.

But what will he uncover along the way?

Book Excerpt:

His son’s hand felt like a lie. Lately, to him, everything felt this way. The look of sadness on his wife’s face, the burn of a drink in his throat, the whine of a saw in the O.R.; nothing seemed true. Nothing was real anymore. He felt out of balance, too. Even now, the school building, the flag slapping against the heavy fall sky¬¬—everything was tipping away from him. It was as though he’d gotten up that morning and screwed on his head carelessly, as though he hadn’t threaded it good and tight. While shaving, he’d cut himself, a discrete, semi-intentional knick just under the curve of his chin. He’d stood there like an idiot, eyes feeding the message “blood” to his brain, nerve endings responding with “pain” and the logic center unable to formulate a response.

“Dad? Daddy?”

“Uh? Wha’?”

“Pick up the pace. Chop chop. Move out.”

Now, as he snaked through the crush of other parents and children, he had to look down to convince himself the boy was there, attached to the hand, flesh and bone. The red hair, “his mother’s hair” everyone called it, was sliced by a crisp white part; his head bounced in beat with his sneakered feet. The child was so painfully real he couldn’t be a lie.

It amazed him that his son looked so much like his wife, especially the tiny mouth, the way it was set in a crooked, determined line. He was a kid who liked to have fun, but he could be fierce. Today, the challenge of a new school year, of third grade, had brought out the determined streak. This was good. They would need that streak, he and his mother would.

“Whoa.”  The tiny hand now was a road sign, white-pink flesh facing him, commanding him. Far enough. He obeyed. Squatting, arms out for the anticipated embrace, he suddenly wanted to tell everything. Tears swam. His throat thickened. The earth tilted and threatened to send him skittering over its edge. There was the slightest of hugs, the brush of lips on his cheek then the boy was off, skipping toward the steps as though third grade challenged nothing, caused no fear, as though the world was in perfect balance.

He walked back to his Lincoln Navigator with the exaggerated care of a drunk who didn’t want anyone to know his condition. He got behind the wheel and suddenly was no longer in his 50s; he felt 16 and too small, too skinny and insignificant to handle the giant SUV.

He nosed the vehicle toward home, alternately trembling and gripping the wheel as he merged with the morning traffic. The plan struck him now as odd and silly, the challenges too great. His hands, already red and scaly, itched fiercely. Get a grip, he told himself. Get a grip.

His tired mind—when was the last time he’d really slept well?—jumped from one stone of thought to another. Was everything covered at work? The bills—had he paid them all? Did his wife suspect anything? Yes. No. Absolutely. Of course not. Relax. Relax. He left the expressway at the exit that took him past their church and wondered if the church, too, was a lie. What of the wedding there so many years ago?

Through a stoplight and past a Dunkin’ Donuts, his gaze floated around a corner. A flash of inspiration—hit the gas. Let the tires slide and the back-end arc around. Let physics have its way until the big vehicle broke free from the grip of gravity and danced head over end, coming to a stop with him bleeding and mercifully, gratefully dead inside.

No. He had something to do. Had he figured the angles right? Gotten the plan tight enough?

A horn jabbed through his reverie. He had drifted into the turn lane of the five-lane street. He jerked the wheel and cut across traffic into the right lane. Tires screeched, horns screamed. A black Toyota streaked past on his left, the driver’s fist, middle finger erect, thrust out the window.

Rage, sharp and bitter, bubbled in his throat. He hesitated, then jammed his foot on the accelerator, cut the wheel hard, and sent the Navigator careening into the left lane.

A staccato barrage of profanity pounded the inside of his skull. He bit his tongue to keep the words in. His heart hammered and a familiar, dizzying pressure filled his ears. The SUV roared ahead, past one car, past a semi then another car, quickly closing the gap on the speeding Toyota. He couldn’t see the car’s driver but he could imagine him, some stupid, simple-minded schmuck, eyes locked on the rear-view mirror as the lumbering Lincoln grew larger, larger, larger. The instant before he would slam into the smaller vehicle, he jabbed his brake and turned again to the left. There was a squeal of tires and more horns bleating behind him; the semi rig’s air horn bellowed angrily past. Ramrod straight, eyes fixed ahead on the now-slow-moving car disappearing tentatively around a curve, he brought the Navigator to a shuddering stop in the center lane. He tensed and waited for the resounding WHUMP of a crash from behind. None came. Face flushed and eyes gleaming, suddenly rejuvenated, he accelerated quickly then eased the Navigator back into the flow of traffic—no looking back.

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About The Author

Paul Flower

Paul Flower is an author, advertising copywriter/creative director and a journalist.

He has written and produced award-winning advertising for print, radio, television, outdoor, the Web––really, just about every medium––for business-to-consumer and business-to-business accounts.

His news features have appeared in regional and national magazines. His first novel, “The Redeeming Power of Brain Surgery,” was published in June 2013 by Scribe Publishing. Visit Paul’s website at  

Connect with Paul:

Author Website: 
Author Page / Publisher Website: Facebook: 
Twitter: Goodreads:  


The Redeeming Power of Brain Surgery

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