Monday, January 11, 2016

“Attempting to Find in Motion What Was Lost in Space”

Once again, my guest is JR Greger. She has written a new suspense thriller, I Saw You in Beirut. I loved the book and wanted to know more about it. Enjoy my conversation with her. Lorna

I suspect many of us can identify with Tennessee William‘s famous quote in The Glass Menagerie. “We attempt to find in motion what is lost in space.” The net result for me is I loved consulting internationally while a professor, and I send Sara Almquist, the heroine in my thrillers, to various international locations.

In my latest novel, I Saw You in Beirut, Sara’s past, as a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and as a globetrotting epidemiologist, provides clues for the extraction of a nuclear scientist from Iran.

How did I get the ideas for this thriller? The University of Wisconsin-Madison was awash with Iranian students protesting the Shah in the late 1970s. I was a professor and the graduate advisor of one of these students. Conversations with her and her friends served the basis of creating the fiery character Farideh Hossein in I Saw You in Beirut.

Then in the 1990s, I consulted on issues in biology (medicine and agriculture) at the United Arab Emirates University in El Ain and the American University of Beirut in Lebanon. As you might expect, I saw research facilities, hospitals, and classrooms, and talked to faculty, business leaders, and students. You might be surprised to learn I also saw a testing lab for the racing camels, agricultural industries, markets in Abu Dhabi and Dubai before the creation of free zones to enhance development, and ships lining up to pass through the Strait of Hormuz. In Lebanon, I was thrilled by Phoenician ruins dating back three-to-four-thousand years and saddened by the damage war had wreaked on the beautiful city of Beirut. It was easy to see why the Lebanese bragged Beirut was once the Paris of the Middle East.

Yes, you guessed right. My fictional Sara just happened to also have consulted (but on epidemiology) in the Emirates and Lebanon.

My area of academic research involved the utilization of metals by humans. Several major research discoveries on this broad topic were made in Iran and Iraq in the 1960s. I knew several of the researchers involved in the Shiraz experiment, which identified zinc deficiency in villagers in Iran. The fictional Doc Steinhaus in my thriller was a grad student research assistant in the Shiraz experiment. Later, he mentored Sara.

Then I supplemented my experiences with lots of research. I Saw you in Beirut is peppered with details on a variety of locations in the Middle East. Why not arm chair travel there?

In I Saw You in Beirut, a mysterious source of leaks on the Iranian nuclear industry, known only as F, sends an email from Tabriz: Help. Contact Almquist. Intelligence sources determine the message refers to Sara Almquist, a globetrotting epidemiologist, and seek her help to extract F from Iran. As Sara tries to identify F by dredging up memories about her student days at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her work in Lebanon and the Emirates, groups ostensibly wanting to prevent F’s escape attack her repeatedly. She begins to suspect her current friendship with Sanders, a secretive State Department official, is the real reason she’s being attacked.

I Saw You in Beirut is available on Amazon.

NEWS FLASH: Win a free copy of this thrilleron GoodReads  between January 9-15, 2016.

JL Greger’s thrillers and mysteries include: Malignancy (winner of 2015 Public Safety Writers’ annual contest), Ignore the Pain, Murder: A New Way to Lose Weight, Coming Flu, and I Saw you in Beirut. Bug (shown in the picture) rules their house and is a character in all her novels. Her website is:


  1. Thanks for hosting me. I hope your readers will enter the GoodReads giveaway for I Saw You in Beirut at:

    1. Always glad to host you--and I always learn something new. i think this is your best yet!