Collaborating with F. Paul Wilson

proteus_cover_KINDLE_03-28-13Now that The Proteus Cure has been out a month, I thought it was time to write about the experience of collaboration.

At my first NECon, which was also my first conference, I met F. Paul Wilson. I had not read any of his Repairman Jack books but ran up to him and said, “Hey, you wrote Deep as the Marrow!”  He seemed surprised because at Horror Conferences, most people don’t know about the handful of medical thrillers he’s written (and which have sold quite well). I later read most of the Repairman Jack books, and like them very much. But to me at that point I only knew his medical thrillers. I suppose I was not the fan he expected. “Repairman Jack who’s that?”

The next year, I came armed with a terrific idea for a thriller and was dying to run it by him. He argued the science and story wouldn’t work. I argued that it would. After brainstorming and talking for several hours, he conceded the science part had potential but the story didn’t make sense, because of the science. Hard to explain now but he was correct. He said, “How about instead you have this doctor…” And certainly his idea was better and lent itself to credibility. Mine would have been torn apart by critics for its inaccuracy. That next Monday he emailed me and said he couldn’t stop thinking about this book; so we decided to write it together.

When we began, I fancied myself a very good writer. I was insanely creative and wrote very quickly. But after one exchange with Paul where he read over my portions, I realized how much there was to learn. We started with a throughline, which was a chronological  list of events that happened throughout the book. Much of this was not included in the manuscript, it was just information we needed, all the background detail that makes a book fit together.

After the throughline, we made an outline. That was tricky as we had to consider whether to tell the story in the order it happened, through flashback, or a little of both.  Once the outline was completed we tackled one chapter as a time. I discovered that when you have a good outline, it’s like a coloring book. All you need to do is fill in the color, the emotion, the dialogue, but most of the lines are already there. Paul taught me how that’s not only dialogue that distinguishes characters’ personalities but their movements and thoughts. We’d split a chapter into sections and assign random pieces. This way we both got to write every character. Doing it in that manner worked well so that there were no glaring differences in the narrative. We emailed a couple of times a day to swap chapter sections back and forth. More recently we used Dropbox. We had a few long calls, to brainstorm, discuss, get our characters out of trouble or into it.

We rewrote this book more times than I’ve ever written one and I think Paul would say the same. We needed to get it just right. It’s a long book, 400 pages and when you rewrite something that long, you get to know the characters like the back of your hand.

Now it is done to our satisfaction. This book had several readers over the years and we listened to all their critiques to make this the best book it could be.

This is not a Repairman Jack book and I hope that when his fans read it, they are not disappointed because Jack isn’t around the corner, rushing in to save anyone. Read it and get to know Paul’s other side, the doctor-writer part of him that casts a different kind of horrific shadow over his writing.

fpaulYou will like this book for different reasons. There is no supernatural element but instead a pervasive and possible threat to all mankind, administered by your family friendly doctor, that will take hold and destroy who you are before you even know what happens.

To buy the Proteus Cure in trade paperback or on Kindle, CLICK HERE.


The Proteus Cure-Official May 1st Release Date


The Proteus Cure is a chilling medical thriller I co-wrote with NY Times bestselling author F. Paul Wilson. The formal release date is May 1st, but if you subscribe to this blog or just happen to come across this post, congratulations! You can buy this before everyone else! Here’s a bit about the book, which we’ve kept super secret until now.

“Paul Wilson and Tracy Carbone have penned a winner. The suspense is razor sharp and the characters masterfully drawn. Paul Wilson is at the top of the game, and Tracy Carbone is a welcome addition to the genre. You’ll love The Proteus Cure.” – Michael Palmer, NY Times best selling author of Political Suicide

In medical ethics, the line between right and wrong is often blurred. Who is to decide what is for the good of humanity?

Changing the world. One person at a time…

That is the mission statement of Tethys Hospital, run by Dr. Bill Gilchrist and his deformed sister, Abra. VG723, their revolutionary stem-cell-based therapy, appears to be capable of doing just that for the cancer patients who come to Tethys. VG723 is often their last hope. But if they match the protocol, they’re virtually guaranteed a cure.

Dr. Sheila Takamura, a young, dedicated oncologist, is proud to be involved in the clinical trials. Once the FDA approves it for widespread use, VG723 will revolutionize cancer therapy. That is why she’s alarmed when former patients return with bizarre syndromes. Yes, they’re cancer free, but they’re experiencing dramatic changes in their hair and skin and general appearance. When she investigates a possible link to the protocol, those patients start dying. As the body count grows, Sheila finds her own life in danger. She comes to suspect there might be a literal meaning behind the Tethys motto – but can she learn the truth in time to save herself and millions of others?

“Wilson is one of the masters of the medical thriller.” – Larry King

Please visit Tracy’s website for details about her other works and upcoming signings.