Today, Hartford Books Examiner welcomes Brian Laslow.
Laslow (pseudonym) is the debut novelist of “The Marijuana Project: A Novel about Medicine and Morality” (CreateSpace). He has over 25 years of experience in the security field and holds multiple certifications. Since 2001, he has been an independent security consultant providing risk assessment, system design, project management, and ongoing security management services for a wide range of commercial, industrial, and government clients. Laslow makes his home in Connecticut.
“The Marijuana Project” was published late last year. Karim Vellani, CPP, CSC (Threat Analysis Group, LLC), noted: “Crafted with an acute attention to detail, The Marijuana Project deftly engages readers in the real world of security technology and practices, while also providing a compelling element of mystery.” Further, Anne Scricca, Employment and Workplace Violence Expert, A.F.S., praised: “The intricate subplots of Brian Laslow’s debut novel take you on a thrill ride right up until its final page. His richly developed and highly relatable characters bring to life the ongoing debate over legalizing marijuana. The Marijuana Project is a fact-based thriller that will leave readers satisfied and eagerly anticipating a sequel.”
From the publisher:
Sam Burnett is hiding in a catwalk of a medical marijuana production facility he has been hired to protect, caught in a web of surveillance he’d never expected. Indeed, Sam, a conservative and religious family man who travels the country as a highly sought after security expert, doesn’t even approve of marijuana and wonders why he’s still working there. Over the course of two years, designing, implementing and operating the entire security program for his client, MedLeaf, Sam is plagued by an ongoing dilemma: Is medical marijuana a legitimate drug for the chronically ill, or is it merely a gateway to more serious drug use and mental instability? In the end, Sam must take matters into his own hands and face the dangerous consequences.
Now, Brian Laslow educates and entertains readers …
John Valeri: What first inspired you to write “The Marijuana Project” – and how did your experiences in the security industry inform your narrative?
Brian Laslow: Over the years various people have told me that they found my work as a security consultant fascinating. When I took on a medical marijuana production facility as a client, I learned just how complicated the issue of medical marijuana really is and just how little I and most others know about the subject. It occurred to me one day that the combination of the two may make an interesting story. I developed a plot in my mind and used my expertise in security and experience in the medical marijuana field to explain details of both industries and the ensuing ethical dilemmas woven within a suspense story.
JV: Tell us about your protagonist, Sam Burnett. How much of his character is a reflection of you – and in what ways does fiction provide a liberating lens through which to tell a story?
BL: A great deal of Sam is a reflection of me in terms of background and core values, although I did take many liberties in the details, which was fun. In addition, all of the main characters are based on real people. It was very liberating to have the freedom to manipulate real people into fictional characters, including Sam. It allowed for solid character development because I knew who the characters were based on, yet I was able to alter them in ways to fit the fictional story. All of the information in the book in terms of medical marijuana and security are accurate, but it was enjoyable to be able to take those facts and make them more understandable by including them in a fictional suspense story.
JV: The subject – medicinal marijuana – is a timely and divisive one. How can this both help and hinder marketing efforts? Also, what do you hope that your book will add to the discourse?
BL: It is my hope that the timeliness of the issue coupled with the word marijuana in the title will help marketing efforts. My audience includes those interested in the medical marijuana debate, those interested in ethical dilemmas, and those who enjoy a fiction suspense novel. Interestingly enough, it has added some difficulties with marketing in certain forums such as Facebook because the work marijuana causes ads to get rejected and creates difficulties with potential book signings because the book stores seem to be apprehensive. Time will tell.
The main thing I hope my book will add to the discourse is a better understanding that this is not a black and white issue. Both sides of the debate have legitimate points and those differences ultimately need to be accepted and worked out in order for medical marijuana to become a widely accepted form of patient care used to its full potential. In fact, I believe that most people don’t know anything at all about medical marijuana, I surely didn’t, and therefore don’t even understand why they should be for or against it. My book explores and details both sides of the issue within the contents of a fun suspense novel.
JV: This is your first novel. How did the writing process compare to your expectations – and what one lesson learned do you believe will serve you best in future creative endeavors?
BL: The process was much different than my expectations but I knew nothing so that isn’t a surprise. I figured I’d spend a few dollars, write the book, put it on Amazon, and people would buy it. I found out quickly that was foolish. It takes a significant financial and time commitment to produce a quality work. I learned that the writing process was just like any other successful endeavor; you get out of it what you put into it. If you want to sell more than the average of 200 books, you need to put in more than average effort and commitment.
JV: You ultimately chose to self-publish. What are the advantages and disadvantages of doing so? Also, what did you find to be the key(s) to achieving a product of style and substance?
BL: The advantages of self-publishing include having more control over the final content, publishing the book much quicker than with a traditional publisher, and having a larger profit margin per book. The main disadvantage is you have less distribution options such as the book not being sold in most if not all brick and mortar bookstores, theoretically meaning fewer sales. I chose to self-publish my book first and then attempt the traditional publisher route with a second edition. We’ll see how it works out.
The main key I found for ending up with a finished product is to hire an editor. Unless you already know everything about book formatting and have impeccable prose, you need expert help. My editor turned a rough manuscript into a completed work I can be proud of forever. You are the expert in the field or genre in which you are writing and have a vision for what you want the work to convey. You need the help of experts in making books to make your vision ready to be enjoyed by the masses.
With thanks to Brian Laslow for his generosity of time and thought.