AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Louis Kraft, author of The Discovery



Author/historian Louis Kraft has focused his energy on producing work that highlights racism and the human experience of people who have put their lives on the line to prevent war. He has written articles for magazines, including Research Review and Wild West, as well as fiction (The Final Showdown) and nonfiction (Gatewood & Geronimo) books. Kraft returned to fiction writing when he collaborated with Robert S. Goodman on The Discovery.
Visit his website at www.readthediscovery.com.


About the Book:

In THE DISCOVERY by Robert S. Goodman and Louis Kraft, a young obstetrician/gynecologist delivers a premature baby after attending a dinner party. The child survives the delivery, but complications lead to a malpractice lawsuit two decades later.
In 1952, a pregnant seventeen-year-old gives birth in a Los Angeles hospital. Two nurses attend to the young woman while they wait for the doctor on call to arrive for the delivery. Dr. Harry Chapman arrives at the hospital clearheaded but with alcohol on his breath. The premature baby is born blue
and placed in an incubator. The nurses turn the oxygen to the level recommended to pediatricians for preemies the year before to prevent blindness. When the baby’s color doesn’t change, Harry instructs the nurses to turn the oxygen up to maximum. They protest, but Harry insists that the nurses comply to save the baby from brain damage or death.
In 1972, Greg Weston, a twenty-year-old paralegal meets a young woman who works with a renowned pediatrician. When she questions the attractive young man about his blindness, Greg reveals that his adoptive parents told him he was born blind. After agreeing to see the doctor Gail works for, Greg becomes aware that his blindness may have occurred as a result of physician error. Greg requests his medical records from the hospital and the adoption agency, and he finds that the hospital records tell a different story about what took place after his birth. In both records, Dr. Harry Chapman is indicated as the doctor who delivered him. Greg shares his findings with a partner in his law firm, and they build a case against Dr. Chapman based on fraudulent changes in the hospital records, which allows the statute of limitations to be thrown out.
After Harry receives word that he is being sued, his attorney advises him that the malpractice insurance he carried in 1952 will not cover even a fraction of the multimillion-dollar lawsuit. The stress and uncertainty of the case, along with the accusation of fraud, breaks Harry, leading him down a road of depression and alcohol dependence. As Harry’s wife, Helen, watches her husband deteriorate, she makes an unthinkable choice to put an end to the plaintiff’s case.
In THE DISCOVERY, the authors connect the lives of two individuals across two decades, exposing vulnerabilities, bitterness, and frailties. As the case moves forward, a key witness’s testimony alters the lives of both men.
In writing THE DISCOVERY, Goodman and Kraft’s intentions were to offer readers multidimensional characters with real-world problems and to bring awareness to the severe affect malpractice lawsuits can have on physicians’ professional and personal lives.
The Discovery is available at Amazon.


Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

I’m a freelance historian who for twenty years also wrote for software companies. The story idea for The Discovery was Dr. Robert S. Goodman’s, and it is terrific. Bob has been one of my physicians for over twenty-five years. In 2002 he thought I might have a health problem and sent me to a specialist. This led to a major surgery the following year, and if not for it I would have stopped walking this earth long ago. A number of years back Bob approached me to read, edit, and advise him how to improve about 100 pages of a rough manuscript (The Discovery). Over a number of months I did. In November 2013 he approached me to partner with him; that is to rewrite and polish his rough draft. I agreed.

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

It was terribly difficult for me for several reasons. 1) As the story took place over twenty years between the early 1950s and 1970s and many important characters did not have large roles I had to figure out how to make the jumps in time work; and 2) Ensure that the historical facts were accurate; that is add a taste and feeling for the times; bring the characters and plot to life. … The most important advice I would give other writers is that if you are writing a novel that deals with real locations, historic dates—including the here and now—make sure that you get every fact correct. For example you can’t use the CA 101 Freeway in Los Angeles in 1952 if it didn’t exist yet. Another is do not shortchange your characters; that is don’t make them cliché and this includes their dialogue. I can’t stress how important dialogue is to a work of fiction.

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

At the beginning of my agreeing to rewrite Goodman’s rough draft, I told him that we needed to have a polished manuscript before we approached agents. He did not want to wait that long and suggested using Amazon. I had designed hundreds of books in the software world along with a newsletter wherein I was the editor, chief writer, art director, artist, photographer, and designer. I had also designed six Indian wars books. I looked into the idea and decided that I could do this. CreateSpace Independent Platform published The Discovery.

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

This was not my first freelance book. That book was a novel called The Final Showdown (1992). It dealt with white-Cheyenne Indian relations on the 1867 Kansas frontier. My then agent had sold the idea to Walker and Company, a New York publisher.

Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

At the moment there are two. Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway is contracted with the University of Oklahoma Press (OU Press), the largest and most important Indian wars publisher in the world. It deals with the lead-up to the savage massacre of Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians—who thought that they were under the protection of the U.S. military in fall 1864 in Colorado Territory, the attack, and the aftermath. The editor-in-chief pitched me on the idea as a follow-up book to Ned Wynkoop and the Lonely Road from Sand Creek. As I’m a biographer and write about people who don’t speak the same language during the American Indian wars but attempt to end war I told him that this wasn’t a book I wanted to write. He persisted, and it took us two years to come up with a book proposal and contract that included an advance that was acceptable to both of us. The polished manuscript was due at the publisher on October 1, 2016, but The Discovery took up much more time than I anticipated due to the documentation supplied me. Last year I obtained an extension but it has a firm deadline. The toughness to write the Sand Creek manuscript and my next nonfiction manuscript is that I mostly use primary source material. Reason: You wouldn’t believe how many nonfiction books are loaded with errors, … errors that are propagated time and again by so-called historians (a George Armstrong Custer book, which recently won a Pulitzer Prize, is just one example) who use mainly published books and don’t check the facts in those books but grab what they want, rework the words, and cite the primary source information—if there is a citation—without seeing the original documentation or checking their secondary sources. The second book is called Errol & Olivia, and it deals with the life and times of film legends Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland during the time that they made eight films together between 1935 and 1941. It also includes their arrival in Hollywood and an aftermath. Livvie, as Flynn used to call her, invited me to visit her in her Paris, France, twice this century. This manuscript will be completed when the Sand Creek manuscript is in production.

Q: What’s one fact about your book that would surprise people?

No matter how dark the future looks the sun always rises.

Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

We’re all people. Most of the time we’re good people, but even when we do something that we perhaps shouldn’t at that time we thought we were right when we acted. But it goes beyond this, for sometimes something happens, and in The Discovery twenty years in the past, that can be devastating and the consequences horrifying. What Bob and I have tried to get across in the novel is that there is always hope no matter how bad it gets.


Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

If you like fiction that is character driven, and a story that goes in directions you would never guess, read The Discovery.

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