“The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell” by Robert Dugoni (Lake Union Publishing; April 24, 2018):
Sam Hill always saw the world through different eyes. Born with red pupils, he was called “Devil Boy” or Sam “Hell” by his classmates; “God’s will” is what his mother called his ocular albinism. Her words were of little comfort, but Sam persevered, buoyed by his mother’s devout faith, his father’s practical wisdom, and his two other misfit friends.
Sam believed it was God who sent Ernie Cantwell, the only African American kid in his class, to be the friend he so desperately needed. And that it was God’s idea for Mickie Kennedy to storm into Our Lady of Mercy like a tornado, uprooting every rule Sam had been taught about boys and girls.
Forty years later, Sam, a small-town eye doctor, is no longer certain anything was by design—especially not the tragedy that caused him to turn his back on his friends, his hometown, and the life he’d always known. Running from the pain, eyes closed, served little purpose. Now, as he looks back on his life, Sam embarks on a journey that will take him halfway around the world. This time, his eyes are wide open—bringing into clear view what changed him, defined him, and made him so afraid, until he can finally see what truly matters.
Suspense Magazine (S. MAG.): What is the best book you read in 2018?
Robert Dugoni (R.D.): Andrew Gross’s “Button Men.”
MAG.: Hollywood pitches are very brief. How would you pitch your book to the movies in ten words or less?
R.D.: “A Prayer for Owen Meany” meets Benjamin Button.
MAG.: What can fans expect to see from you in 2019?
R.D.: An espionage novel based on true events is coming April 2019, “The Eighth Sister,” followed by another Tracy Crosswhite novel, “A Cold Lead.”
MAG.: Do you have a memorable fan experience you can share?
R.D.: I still love the woman who was perplexed to discover I was a male. She thought I used a nome de plume.
MAG.: Who’s your favorite fictional villain? Favorite hero/heroine?
R.D.: Favorite hero is Paul Edgecomb, “The Green Mile.” Favorite villain is any book with Nazi Germany as the villains.
MAG.: What does having your book chosen as a “Best of” by Suspense Magazine mean to you?
R.D.: It’s a tremendous honor. It is a validation that all the hard work translated into a book that meant something to so many.
MAG.: If you could write a message to future aspiring authors and place it in a time capsule to read years later, what would you write?
R.D.: Learn the craft.
MAG.: If you could be a superhero, which one would you be? And what is that one special gift of his/hers you want to have and why?
R.D.: Superman. Always wanted to fly.
MAG.: Finish this sentence: If I wasn’t an author, I would be ___________.
MAG.: Is there a book, written by another, that you wish you’d written?
R.D.: “The Nightingale” by Kristin Hannah.