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China Grove doctor publishes mystery novel; will be at book signing Friday

By Deirdre Parker Smith

Salisbury Post

What does a family practitioner do in his spare time?

If he’s China Grove’s Dr. Eric Troyer, he writes a mystery.

“Insecurity” is Troyer’s first attempt at writing, and it’s just the beginning.

He’s 15,000 words into the next book. “But I’ll have to use a pseudonym” because it’s about a small town doctor whose patients start dying. “It’s fiction, of course,” Troyer says with a laugh.

He says writing is his new hobby, following tons of others, ranging from tie-dying to glass making to photography. “I wanted to see if it could be done,” Troyer says, referring to “Insecurity,” a book without profanity or explicit sex.

He just started reading fiction when the “Left Behind” series started. All he read before that was medical journals.

But as he read more fiction, he was frustrated by inconsistencies or errors in so many books.

He decided to self-publish, but thoroughly researched it first. “I had to decide which route to go, finding an agent to send it to publishers, but that takes forever, or getting a book out there and getting noticed and maybe picked up later.”

He found a graphic designer on the Internet to do a cover and was loved the results.

Through the Web site selfpublishing.com, he hired a copy editor and a proof reader. He was adamant about having a clean book, as free of errors as possible.

“The whole process started last March,” Troyer said, with research. After he wrote the book, he asked friends and family to read it and “they found some glaring mistakes; it took another nine months to clean it up.” The copy editor helped to improve the flow of the book.

With numerous characters and a complex plot, Troyer wanted to teach readers and entertain them, too. He learned a lot as he researched the Witness Security Program, part of the U.S. Marshal’s office.

An episode of “Law & amp; Order” jump-started the idea for “Insecurity.” On his Web site, www.insecuritythenovel .com/, Troyer describes it, “They brought back one of the former assistant district attorneys for a guest appearance after killing her off a couple seasons before,” he says. “The creators justified the return by revealing she had been in the witness protection program because one of the criminals she was prosecuting had come after her.

“It got me to wondering if anything like that had ever happened.”

The U.S. Marshal’s office Web site indicates they never lost a protected witness. Troyer learned what he could there and was able to talk to a couple of people in the office. “They couldn’t really tell me anything, and I understand that,” but they didn’t offer any resistance, either.

He even bought property in Charlotte through the U.S. Marshal’s auction, just to see what it was like to work with them. He has since sold the property.

Writing nights and weekends, Troyer gave up watching television to work until about midnight.

He went with the flow, not using an outline. “At some point, the book was writing itself. In fact, the later it got at night, the more it wrote itself,” not always well.

“I knew what would happen in the end, but some things came up along the way,” like finding out Dearborn Street in Chicago, the location of a marshal’s office, is named after one of the first 13 marshals.

By the way, he says, “there’s something about all the names of the marshals in the book, except for one … all the surnames have one thing in common.” You have to figure it out yourself.

He enjoyed Dan Brown’s “Angels and Demons,” but was disappointed in “The Da Vinci Code” because “it attacked our faith.” Still he liked Brown’s writing style, and tried to emulate it.

He incorporated his faith into the book, with two characters on “the Roman Road,” the path to Jesus.

“The Jesus element can be a double-edged sword — it will appeal to some readers, and repel some, too. Part of the reason for writing was being a witness,” Troyer says. “Two chapters of the 60 talk about characters coming to Christ, and it’s more about here’s why they were the way they were and why they are the way they are now.”

In using lyrics from an Al Yankovic song, he had to ask for permission, and Yankovic’s agent asked to see the chapter, which happened to be one that talked about conversion. His people gave Troyer the OK and said it would be free of charge, since the book was self-published; all they wanted was a credit.

All Troyer has heard from friends, family and church members has been positive, of course, but he’d like some constructive criticism, too.

A Sunday school teacher at China Grove’s First Baptist Church, he’s gotten feedback from teenagers to the elderly.

The characters in “Insecurity” are not anyone specific, but Troyer had a photo of Liam Neeson that he used to describe Dan, and an older picture of John Cusack that inspired Adam. A girl in his Sunday school class is the Katherine character, at least physically. Some names are twists on a group of college friends.

He hedges about his investment. He says his cost “at this point is $6 or $7 per book. Marketing will add to that.” Miller Davis Studios hosts his Web site, but he provides the content.

“Insecurity” ends in Piney Grove, N.C.; the next book will take place there and have a character from the first book. His idea for a third involves suicide bombers in Israel and the consequences.

“Writing has been an interesting experience; I do enjoy it.” He says he might pursue it more earnestly after retirement, which is a long way off.

An Air Force veteran, he had some interesting experiences as a doctor at Guantanamo Bay in 1994. “It was a pretty wild experience, with boat people coming in … taking care of prisoners and Cuban residents.”

“Insecurity” is available at Literary Bookpost in Salisbury, the Christian Shoppe in Kannapolis, China Grove Drug Co., and at Troyer’s office.

The first edition of the book is available from Livicher Publishing at www.insecuritythenovel.com for $20 (20 percent off the cover price) plus shipping.

“It would make a good Christmas present,” he says, noting wife and office manager Vickie helped a good bit along way. “She enjoyed it. She’s one of my bigger fans.”

Their daughter Lindley, 18, now at UNC, helped with the original concept and brainstormed for the second book. Chas, 16, has a band, “and he’s not really into reading right now.”

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