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My Interview with Bill Crider

Interview with Kurt Stevens

Kurt Stevens has begun an interesting experiment, a serial novel on the ‘Net that’s also being published in eBooks of several chapters each and that will eventually be published in the traditional format.  Here’s a link to the first eBook, and here’s a link to the beginning of the serial, which is pretty far advanced by now.

The interview below will tell you a bit more about Stevens and about his novel.


1. Tell us a little about yourself.

I live in Columbus with my son, Michael. And I guess art really does imitate life, because both of those facts found their way into the novel. I like to spend my mornings working out and clearing my mind to write. Then I put in some hard hours, and reward myself with a beer. Life is good.

2. How long have you been writing?

I started writing in college and haven’t stopped since. I love the escapism it provides, and the release. 

3. How did you come to write Capital Offense?

I wanted to write a story that explored the death penalty without taking a stance on it. When the main character is an executioner, we see all the issues through his eyes. I was also inspired by reading about prisoners. Almost all of the prisoner stories mentioned in the book are based on true events. 

4. Tell us a little about the plot.

Kurt Stevens, the main character, (I guess I secretly want to lead a double life) comes home one night to find his beautiful wife Tonya murdered in the bathtub. As a member of law enforcement, he knows that the husband is the first person the police will suspect. Unfortunately for him, he’s the only one they suspect. So he goes into hiding, and travels all over Columbus, trying to unravel who wanted her dead, and why. But the discoveries he makes come with a price.

5. What writers would you consider your main influences?

Dean Koontz, Stephen King, and Tom Clancy. I love writing suspense and continuing the pulp tradition.

6. Why publish the novel on the web in serial form before the hardcover publication? And why publish 3 e-books with parts of the novel before the full book?

I want readers to be tuned in. I’m trying to build suspense so that more people will return each day to see what’s happening next with Kurt. I also want readers to tell their friends so they’ll tune in. Instead of everyone reading a book at a different pace, we’re all on the same chapter, together. And then, if they’ve been entertained, I hope that they will support my work and purchase the book. The eBooks were intended to bring in new readers and get them up to speed. My publisher and I also agree that it’s time for the publishing industry to evolve, and offering this content for free online, and putting the reader first, is a great step.
Check out his website:

Singapore Death Penalty

Singapore

Singapore has a notoriously intense legal system. People are caned all the time for minor offenses and drug trafficking is punishable by death. However, that country has recently undergone legal reform processes and some of that intensity has been mitigated. Recently, a drug dealer had his sentence commuted from death to life imprisonment because he was only a trafficker and not a kingpin. Here’s the link:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-24940568

Preparing to Write

breakfast

The brain is an organ. It requires proper nutrition in order to function properly. That means a mixture of good carbohydrates, phytonutrients, antioxidants, proteins and fiber. To that end, I have developed a regimen of five ounces of organic kale, seven ounces of organic sunflower seed butter and 24 ounces of green tea as my morning elixir. I will sometimes mix in a whole boiled chicken breast. This meal is consumed within twenty minutes of waking.

After breakfast I have to integrate my physical self with my mental self for the writing process which I partake in every day. My protocol is as follows:

7 minutes of thai chi
21 minutes of high intensity sprints
17 minutes of upper body and abdominal resistance work
21 minutes of vinyasa meditation
17 minutes of lower body resistence work
21 minutes of work on the heavy bag
three rounds of sparring with my boxing partner

Only after this regimen am I ready to write for at least four hours straight. After the writing is completed all bets are off. I eat steak, I drink beer. Night Kurt is a different person from morning Kurt. Morning Kurt is healthy and responsible. Night Kurt is a boss.

Two-Drug Cocktail

So Ohio is running out of Pentobarbital, the drug that it uses for its lethal injections. As noted in the previous post about compounding pharmacies, large manufacturers tend not to want to supply drugs for lethal injections, so Ohio must rely on its existing stock. In response to the shortage, Ohio is taking a two pronged strategy. Firstly, it is turning to compounding pharmacies. Secondly, it is changing its lethal injection protocol from using a single drug to using two drugs in conjunction. This is considered to be a backup to the existing pentobarbital method.

There is no agreed upon formulation for lethal injection drugs in the US. Each state is required to create its own protocol for the process. Pentobarbital is a sedative that is believed to cause a painless, and even euphoric death.

Ohio has changed its lethal injection protocol three times in the past five years. That means that the technicians who administer the lethal injection regimen must be trained again each time one of these changes takes place. The executioners, much like Kurt Stevens the character in Capital Offense, are not doctors. They may be highly trained and able individuals, but there have been mistakes made during the lethal injection process.

The new regimen, a combination of hydromorphone and midazolam, has never been tried before for lethal injection. Hydromorphone is an opiate similar to morphine. It is used to relieve pain in a hospital setting. The drug generally causes a sensation of euphoria and sedation in medical patients to whom it is administered. Midozolam is a benzodiazepine, which is different from an opiate in that it is a muscle relaxant. It is not yet known how these two drugs will interact during the lethal injection procedure.

There’s some controversy over the use of muscle relaxers like Midolozam in lethal injections. Since it is a muscular sedative there is a slight chance that the drug could render the recipient of the drug incapable of moving while maintaining neurological function. This is a phenomenon that has been observed in medical patients who have received certain types of sedatives, but has never been observed in lethal injection cases. This is generally the reason why a second drug is used, so that the neurological function can be sedated as effectively as the muscular function.

The pharmacy from which the state of Ohio is receiving the drugs has not been disclosed by the state prison agency.

Drink Up Columbus

Drink Up Columbus is putting up a poll to see what beer Kurt should say is the best beer in the world. The requirements are that it be a Columbus beer, but apart from that the list is diverse and really interesting. I’m excited to see what this beer says about Kurt. A beer can define a man. Will he have a slightly fruity side or will he prefer the bitterest of bitters? You get to decide.

Here’s the link:

http://drinkupcolumbus.com/2013/11/04/capital-offense-best-beer/

Compounding Pharmacies and Lethal Injections

Most pharmacies do not seem to want to be associated with the substances required to perform lethal injections. It’s considered to be a non-medical use. The Hippocratic oath specifically prohibits the administration of lethal substances. Many pharmacies adhere to this standard.

The State of Ohio is turning to compounding pharmacies which formulate medications in small batches. Small batch formulation does not necessarily mean that compounding pharmacies are less safe than the big boys. Despite the outbreak of fungal meningitis in 2012 which originated at a compounding pharmacy in New England, compounding pharmacies have provided much needed medications for many years.

However, the regulations for compounding pharmacies are different from those that are used in larger scale manufacturing facilities. In a large manufacturing plant there is a long and very complicated process for compliance and validation for each formulation. Because compounding pharmacies are formulated in small batches, the process for each formulation cannot be validated individually. However, the lab technicians at compounding pharmacies are highly trained and should be able to detect faults in the compounding process. State legislatures currently regulate compounding pharmacies so there is no national standard.

All of this begs the question: will the move to compounding pharmacies result in a higher risk for pain or complications during the administration of lethal injections? That question has not been subject to rigorous scientific study, so it remains open. However, the fact that the state of Ohio no longer has the option to procure medications through mainstream distribution channels means that there is no choice. Even if lethal injection drugs from compounding pharmacies are more prone to produce complications then the state will have no alternative but to procure the drugs from them.