Sophisticated Suspense and more . . .

A Conversation With the Author

Here are Reader Questions (RQ) for Dorian Paul (DP).  If you want to join in the conversation, send your questions to


RQ:  With hybrid cars and electric cars already on the market today, why choose a biofuel for the subject matter?


DP:  If hybrid and electric cars were a simple answer to zero emissions there wouldn't be so many scientists searching for other alternatives. And, of course, green gas from algae is only one of the alternatives being investigated.  In reality, if you look at the issue broadly there will always be car emissions due to fuel production, processing, distribution, and use. Take the case of gasoline where emissions occur by taking petroleum from the earth, refining it, and then distributing it to gas stations.  Not to mention burning it in cars. For electric cars you have to consider that most electric power plants produce emissions. And emissions are associated with the extraction, processing, and distribution of the primary energy sources they use for electricity production.


What's so exciting about gas from algae is that it's one of the most promising sustainable sources of biomass and oils for fuel (as well as for food, feed, and other things). The benefits are related mostly to how and where algae grow.  Algae have evolved over eons to produce and store energy as oil better than other natural or engineered processes.  No wonder people are interested in them as a green energy alternative.

       The Science Corner has more about Algae for Biofuels:   Read More

RQ:  I loved having a lawyer who couldn't speak as a character!  Where did that come from? 


DP:  Everybody complains about lawyers spouting off.  What if a lawyer couldn't talk and still do a bang-up job for her client?  You hear of accidents that keep people from working all the time.  But an accident that results in having to get your mouth wired shut is something altogether different.  And add into that a character whose cleft lip has been corrected through years of surgery.  That gives you both an interesting medical and psychological situation for the female character and her view of herself, as well as a nasty job issue. 


RQ:  The mafia has a fairly flattering portrayal compared to the KGB.  Did you do that on purpose? 


DP:  Yes and no.  It was more of an examination of what constitutes real 'family' and how that situation requires people to call on their better selves.  The KGB is portrayed more as an institution that didn't live up to it's responsibility for those left behind when the Soviet Union broke up.


RQ:  Julia and Michael are workaholics.  So is Henry Gardner.  Do you think that's required for an entrepreneur to be successful?


DP:  Most entrepreneurs are workaholics primarily due to their passion for what they do.  That's not always a bad thing. Unless your work/life balance becomes destructive to either yourself or those you love, you can work hard and still keep up your relationships.  As is evident in Zero Emissions, Michael, Julia, and Hen work a lot but never lose sight of what's important to them either in their businesses or their personal relationships.  Of course, it would be easier for entrepreneurs if the day had more than 24 hoursJ


RQ:  Are you a car enthusiast and is that why you chose car rallies and antique auto shows as settings?  Do you drive a special kind of car?


DP:  Yes to being an enthusiast (at least one of us can lay claim to that), even so far as to attend an antique auto show in Newport, RI (both of us).  Highly recommend you sample something like this.  Trading cars can be done at a variety of levels, and is usually a cheaper and quicker thrill than trading houses.  Highly recommend you try this too.

      The Science Corner has more about the Mille Miglia:  Read More


RQ:  Julia and Michael come from very different families, but their families are caring and close, so why do they both think they can't do 'family'?


DP:  Unfortunately there seem to be a lot of young adults who think they can't do family for more reasons than there is space to describe.  Wounded heroes and heroines appeal to people because they resonate with them.  In Zero Emissions the hero and heroine have very personal reasons for 'fear of family.'  Michael thinks he's already failed his daughter.  Julia is afraid she'll pass on her 'defect' of a cleft lip to a baby and force that child to endure the childhood of surgeries that formed her own self-image.


RQ:  The science of using algae and reverse transcriptase and DNA codes are pretty unusual things in a romantic suspense novel but make sense here.  Do most of your readers understand this sort of thing and like reading about it?


DP:  To say that most people understand science and/or want to do it is a stretch.  But most people are interested in it and a lot of people have said they felt good about being able to understand the science presented and that it actually enhanced their reading experience.  If the science can't be understood, that's the author's fault, not the reader's. 


RQ:  How much research did you do for this book and which topics were most familiar to you?  I assume you are some sort of scientist given your types of books.


DP:  The research was a lot of fun.  It involved medical research for the cleft lip, biofuel research for the algae-derived product (and yes, this is real stuff), and patent law research.  The patent law material was the most 'foreign' but very interesting.  The science research was in the comfort zone of our background.  Take a look at our Author tab for more information.

      The Science Corner has more about Biotechnology in Our Daily Lives:  Read More


RQ:  Of all the ways you could have gotten guns into a suspense novel, having one of the characters be a biathalon champion was pretty weird.  Where on earth did you come up with that?


DP:  The Olympics and living in the Northeast with all the snow.  People freak out about guns in general, but sometimes the bad guys and good guys in books need them.  A biathalon rifle is unique and the sport in general esoteric enough that readers seem to enjoy learning about it.  Plus, it puts Michael in a 'league' with his father on some level and allows for some bizarre dynamics in the story, don't you think?


RQ:  Would green gas with zero emissions really change the world given all the other geopolitical problems we face globally?


DP:  That's a tough one to answer.  Everybody always talks about the 'black swan' that will change everything.  Maybe it's fracking?  Maybe it's algae-derived green gas?  Maybe it's something that isn't even on our radar screens yet.  As far as global geopolitical problems we're facing, who the heck knows if any single thing can cause a paradigm shift.  But it sure is fascinating to speculate.