The Divine Affliction

Department of Justice attorney, Derrick Daniels, investigates and prosecutes international drug cartels from the comfort of his desk. Reluctantly drawn into a field investigation, his life becomes a nightmare shrouded in mystery.

Derrick accompanies Savannah Ambrose, another Department of Justice attorney, on a mission abroad to meet with their counterparts in Pakistan. Together they investigate the possibility that rogue Arab states are using prions — the poorly understood cause of a multitude of deadly diseases, including mad-cow disease, and the incurable human form, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease — as a terrorist weapon against the United States. Derrick finds all control over his world is lost and replaced by a fate that may explain the ever-growing, international epidemic of violence and terror. The more he discovers, the less credible his tale becomes.

Upon their return to the States, assassins and inexplicable forces threaten Derrick and Savannah. Soon, the powers of ancient law collide with contemporary villainy to define the destiny of all humankind.

MM:This week we join Robert M. Fleisher to talk about his latest book, The Divine Affliction. Robert, welcome to Martin Matthews Writes.

RMF: Thank you Martin for allowing me to have a conversation with you. What you do for authors is most appreciated.

MM:Just trying to shine a spotlight on the awesome indie scene, which I am happy to do. Before we dig into the book, though, tell us a little about yourself, Robert.

RMF: I was a practicing endodontist for over thirty years and wrote for professional journals. My interest in writing began when I would complain to my colleagues, at lunch, about how easy it was for healthcare professionals to be sued. Getting tired of hearing my complaints, one fellow said, “Why don’t you write a book about it?” Well, I did. Not one, but two: From Waiting Room to Courtroom, How Doctors Can Avoid Being Sued, as a text for my residents, and a thriller novel regarding the legal system and its perversions. I have seven books published currently, and I enjoy writing about aging and relationships. Dating Againis my latest non-fiction treatise on the dating process for those who least expected the need, until divorce, death or dysfunction ended their relationship. I have recently become an active member of the International Thriller Writers.

MM: Congrats on your ITW membership. Also, if I need any teeth pulled, I know who to call. But before we get too far off track, tell us a little about the book!

RMF: The Divine Afflictionis a mystery, thriller with an international setting. It should appeal to those who genuinely enjoy thrillers with a psychological edge. It is not for the faint of heart and might just keep readers up at night.
The settings in The Divine Affliction span the globe. Lawyers working for the Department of Justice go on a reluctant mission to stop threats against the American people. Several players are plotting to destroy America. There are three motives: greed, vengeance and fanaticism. These are the forces that have caused all wars throughout history. You decide if any will succeed. The Divine Affliction has Biblical references and tells a story where, perhaps, the Noahic Covenant (never by flood) is coming to an end. I explore why is there so much violence, depravity and sickness in the world. Is there an explanation that everyone is missing?

MM: I think you're on to something, Robert. Tell us about some of the people in your book; what are they like?

RMF: There are many peripheral characters that may seem familiar to the reader. Don’t we all know some trying people? You will admire, like and despise the various personalities. The lead characters are Derrick and Savannah.

Derrick Daniels is an attorney for the Justice Department in the division of drug prosecution. He’s around 28 years old, handsome and goal oriented. Derrick graduated from Temple University Law School at the top of his class. Not much of a student in college, he did not have the high grades or personal introductions required to enter the elite law schools. However, once matriculated, he learned the workings of the legal profession. Derrick realized the lawyers who ran the world were more often a product of the prestigious schools they attended and their own class rank upon graduation. With that knowledge, the serious student emerged, but too late for recruitment by the best firms. He is a reluctant warrior who has no interest in adventure involving dangerous travels.

Savannah Ambrose is a Justice attorney who is investigating terrorism. She sports the aura and looks of a model. She was often mistaken for one of the paralegals, all of whom were glamorous. Long, silky black hair framed her flawless face. A tiny nose, almond eyes, and full sensuous lips all oriented flawlessly to produce a celestial visage. She had long slender legs, a tiny waist and the display of more endowment than expected for such a slim body.
Savannah graduated at the top of her class at University of Southern California Law. Because she wanted to be near the action, business law had no appeal to her. If she could not create excitement for herself, she would have to move on. At twenty-eight years of age, she invested her last two years with the Justice Department searching for that excitement.
Growing up in a backward farm town fostered contempt for the mundane. The ugly duckling syndrome marking her early years melding gawky with tall. In her youth, she exhibited exaggerated facial features. No one could predict she would turn out to be so attractive; a real swan. Her utmost wish: to escape the small town that offered an empty future. She is in love with Derrick who has no time, nor inclination, to betray his wife. He’s not interested.

Adrienne Daniels, Derrick’s wife, while not a main character, is important to the plot in a number of ways, so let’s mention her as well. Born into a middle-class family, Adrienne had a mother who stressed ascent upon the social ladder more than values. Combined with looks that turned heads and the subtlety of motive, she was able to seduce and then secure her future with Derrick. Adrienne stood tall, almost five-ten. She possessed the stature of a fashion model with long legs and a thin, delicate bone structure. Her body, with slight substance, looked better in clothes than bare. Her petite nose turned up just slightly. Large blue eyes, set apart well beyond that which most would consider normal, instead of looking freakish, presented as a hypnotic attraction. Adrienne’s jaw, defined by sharp lines, complemented the outstanding prominence of her bulbous cheekbones. Long, silky, dark hair drapes her shoulders. Her stunning appearance attracts stares from men and women alike. Adrienne is the vehicle driving Derrick to be with the “in crowd” to get them the fortune that she believes is all important.

MM: Where did the idea for the novel come from?

RMF: Every night, coming home from my office, even late at night, coming home from meetings, movies or weddings, between 10pm and 1am, I would see an unmarked tanker making deliveries in the middle of a cemetery. It was just about every night, and no matter the time, this truck was there. They had to be making deliveries all night long. This seemed so odd to me, but I didn’t have the guts to investigate or report the occurrences. However, Derrick did. And that was the beginning of his…and my adventure.

MM: Wow, dead body delivery service? Smuggling drugs? I wrote a story about a graveyard once...anyway, tell us about the message behind your book.

RMF: I’m troubled by the violence, immorality, and depravity seen going on all over the world. I seek an explanation, even if it’s in my fiction. I want people to understand there are, perhaps, reasons that exist right in front of us that we do not see. It is my hope that readers will realize the frailty of our security and existence. They will explore how the powers of ancient law collides with contemporary villainy. They will decide if violence is random, or are there plots conspiring to bring an end to the idyllic life that used to define the American way.

MM: Is there a particular meaning to the title, The Divine Affliction?

RMF:There is a deep meaning to the book title. Divine, has two meanings… from God or wonderful. Affliction, not a good thing. How can an affliction be good? I want my readers to think about this and decide for themselves what the title means to them.

MM: Tell us about some of your influences.

RMF: Orwell, Conrad, Faulkner, Melville, Dickens, Steinbeck, and Fitzgerald are some of the giants I admire. The way they place words is akin to observing a master geneticist discover the building blocks of a complex life form. In my fiction, I strive for some semblance of scholarly content, however, when reading the real masters of literary fiction, I am humbled and know my place. My son is my biggest inspiration. He’s a budding author, and I have so enjoyed seeing him develop into a true talent.

MM: That's touching, about your son. Thank you for encouraging him. Writers need all they can get, especially from family. Would you share what you're currently reading?

RMF: I am currently reading many books on health, specifically related to diet, and how it affects our cognition. This is important if we expect to keep telling stories. One book in particular, The End of Alzheimer’s, by Dale Bredesen, is an important, and intriguing read, that offers hope where conventional medicine has nothing to offer. I use my non-fiction reading to incorporate ideas into my novels. On the very first page of The Divine Affliction you will be introduced to prions, the cause of Mad Cow disease. Scary stuff.

MM: I lived in the UK when mad cow disease caused a mass, nationwide cull of all livestock. I still remember the burn piles of animals as high as a building, the black smoke going up into the sky. It's definitely nothing to laugh at. Are you working on your next project?

RMF: I am working on The American Strangler which has two meanings. It’s about how the legal system is strangling every aspect of our society. It’s a thriller all about a vigilante who decided to do something about it.

MM: That's sounds intriguing. And very timely! I look forward to interviewing you about it soon! Robert, it's been a pleasure, thank you for stopping by and sharing a little about The Divine Afflictionwith us.

RMF: Thank you, Martin, for this opportunity to spend time with you today. And a special thanks to your audience and readers who support all those trying to create new and different worlds and experiences for their enjoyment. It has been my pleasure to explore my motivations and the creative process inspired by your many fine questions.

Robert M. Fleisher holds a BA in psychology and DMD with a specialty of endodontics. Engaged in writing for the past thirty-five years, he has written for professional journals as well as having produced several non-fiction books. After three self-published books, he was fortunate to have made publishing deals for his most recent non-fiction titles: The Sexless Marriage Fix– Basic Health Publications and From Waiting Room to Courtroom – How Doctors Can Avoid Getting Sued– Jay Pee Brothers Medical Publishers. Both of these books were released in 2016.

Having left dentistry to write full time, Robert revisited his passion for fiction. His debut novel, The Divine Affliction, is published with Black Rose Writing.

You can find more of Robert here:

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The Divine Affliction is Published by Black Rose Writing

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