About Me :

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Welcome to my author page.  I'm a board-certified psychiatrist, author, and professional speaker.

I write both fiction and non-fiction, including the Barrett Conyors forensic thriller series as well as books on Alzheimer's and Bipolar Disorder.  My newest series is set in Connecticut and features two female sleuths, who fall in love with one another.  The first--VULTURES AT TWILIGHT (Severn House) will be released in 2012.

In addition to books I've written hundreds of articles, columns, and shorts stories for professional and popular magazines, newspapers, and journals.  I've been a regular contributor to the American Medical Association's American Medical News, a consultant to the Reader's Digest Medical Breakthrough series, and my work has appeared in publications ranging from The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) to Writer's Digest Magazine.  I've been twice featured in the New York Times, as well as many other publications.


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Editor Liz Fitzgerald Interviews Caleb James, the author of HAFFLING

Liz:  To start, your real name isn't Caleb James, it's Charles Atkins, why did you decide to use a pen name?

Caleb:  Yes, totally true.  The major reason for going with a pen name is that HAFFLING is in a different genre from all my other books.  It's YA−although definitely for adults, as well.  But I don't want someone who really likes HAFFLING to reach for one of my dark psychological thrillers, like THE PRODIGY or CADAVER'S BALL and be disappointed, because they are nothing like HAFFLING. 
Liz: So, how many pen names do you use?

Caleb:  At present I write under three names.  Charles Atkins, which I use for adult mysteries and thrillers, Charles Atkins, MD, which I use for my medical and clinical books, like THE BIPOLAR DISORDER ANSWER BOOK, and now Caleb James for YA.  I've also ghost written where my name doesn't appear at all.

Liz:  On to HAFFLING.  Have you thought about writing a prequel?  And what do you think about prequels?

Caleb:  Not before you asked, but it's an interesting question.  In general, writers need to know a lot about their characters' histories so in a sense a prequel for Alex, Alice and their mother already exists.  It's the story of how things fell apart for this family.  It would be Marilyn's first trip to the Unsee, her seduction by Cedric and the horrible circumstances that drew Alex and Alice into the McGuire's house of horrors.  It would also lay down the origins of Alex's fairy, Nimby and why Marilyn and the Nevus family are so important to the scheming of mad Queen May.

Liz: It sounds like a pretty dark story.

Caleb: Yes, but Alex is a hero in the true sense.  He saves his sister, kills the man who molested her and is responsible for bringing to light decades of wrongdoing.  So while dark, this unwritten prequel contains the story arc of a pretty good novel.  Even the side themes of this much-younger Alex figuring out how to reunite his family and coming to terms with being gay...and to having an annoying bare-breasted fairy on his shoulder.

Liz: I love that about Alex and HAFFLING, yes, he's gay, but it's not exclusively a gay novel.

Caleb: Right, and that's the way I wanted it.  Like in the beginning where Alex is laying down the crap-fest that's his life.  His being gay is just a part of who he is, and frankly the thought of having time for a romance doesn't even register.

Liz: Clearly that doesn't last long.  I love the way the relationship between Alex and Jerod comes about, and how you stretched things to where we don't even get a kiss till halfway through the novel.

Caleb: Timing romantic storylines requires finesse.  You never want to make things too easy for your lovers, because it's the tension−Does he like me?  Is he even gay?−that keeps the reader turning the pages.  Obviously there are lots of ways to do this, such as boy gets boy, boy loses boy through some conflict or misunderstanding, and boy gets boy again through the resolution of the conflict or misunderstanding.

Liz: So when's the next one coming out?

Caleb: The sequel is currently swimming in my head, but Charles Atkins, MD and Charles Atkins each have a book to get back to their respective publishers, so the sequel to HAFFLING, which has the working title of EXILE, will likely have to wait till the winter.

Liz: Any hints what it will be about?

Caleb: Hmmm.  I hate to talk about things not yet written, it's the one place I have a bit of superstition about writing, that if you talk about things they lose their momentum and their juice.  But I'll give you this, just as HAFFLING speaks to the magic of love, so too will EXILE take the reader through a journey about the absolute transformative power of love.

HAFFLING is available as both an e-book and paperback.

Purchase at amazon, Barnes and Noble, or through other on-line sellers.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

 Just Released!

HAFFLING, set in Manhattan, is the story of sixteen year old Alex Nevus, his little sister Alice, and his mentally ill mother, Marilyn.  Alex is a brilliant guy determined to hold his family together against a backdrop of unbearable tragedy.  Years earlier he and his sister were placed in a foster home where Alice was molested, and Alex pushed the man who did it to his death.  He's also haunted by the specter of his own madness.  Ever since he can remember he's had a six-inch bare-breasted fairy named Nimby sitting on his shoulder, that combined with a schizophrenic mother gives him cause for worry.  Further down on the list of things that keep him up at night is his growing crush on the most-perfect boy in his class, who currently goes out with the most-perfect girl.

Since being reunited as a family, Alex has become a master of knowing the rules.  All of which goes to hell when his mother fails to show up for her disability hearing.  When he tracks her down to a park at the northern tip of NYC, his world comes undone as he follows her into a parallel realm.  There, he meets a power-hungry queen who would conquer the world, but requires a suitable vessel to pass between the dimensions.  She needs Alex...or at least parts of him to make that happen.
HAFFLING is available as an ebook through amazon and Barnes and Noble, and as both an ebook and paperback through the publisher--Dreamspinner Press/Harmony Ink (it will eventually be available in paperback through other on-line sellers, as well.)

Barnes and Noble
Dreamspinner Press/Harmony Ink

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

I've not had the chance to post in a while--very busy with book projects and a variety of professional trainings.  Over the past few months I've been blessed to have two book projects given the green light.  This includes my first Young Adult (YA) novel--HAFFLING(Dreamspinner Press/Harmony Ink), which will be released Fall 2013.  This will be my first outing with a pseudonym--Caleb James.  At some point I'll revisit the hows and whys authors use pen names. 

Today's topic is this--One of the less glamorous jobs of a writer is to be able to condense a book into a variety of synopses, blurbs, jacket copy etc and to do it fast. Faced with my young adult novel Haffling about to shoot down the production conveyer belt I must reduce 330 pages of teen angst into two hundred words or less. Here's my morning's shot at it with help from Elizabeth Fitzgerald and the editorial staff at Dreamspinner. All comments are gratefully appreciated. 

All sixteen year old Alex Nevus wants is to be two years older and become his sister Alice's legal guardian. That, and he'd like his first kiss, preferably with Jerod Haynes. Sadly, wanting something and getting it, are very different. Strapped with a mentally ill mother, he fears for his own sanity--having a fairy on his shoulder that only he can see doesn't help. Jerod Haynes has a girlfriend, and his mother's schizophrenia places Alice and him in constant jeopardy of being carted back into foster care.

When Alex's mother goes missing, everything falls apart. Frantic, he tracks her to a remote corner of Manhattan and is transported to another dimension--the land of the Unsee, the realm of the Fey. There he finds his mother held captive by the power-mad Queen May, and he learns that he is half human and half fey – a Haffling.

As Alex's human world is being destroyed, so too the Unsee is being devoured by a ravenous mist. Fey is vanishing and May needs to cross into the human world. She needs something that only Alex can provide and she will stop at nothing to possess it...to possess him.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

After many months...and a couple years in the writing...GO TO HELL, my first paranormal thriller novel is alive.  This is a highly personal book born out of my first-hand experience of the highly problematic relationship between the pharmaceutical companies and physicians.  While clearly fiction, this a modern parable that sticks close to some bitter truths.

The e-version for Kindle, Nook and every other e-reader is up on amazon.com and Barnes and Noble, the paperback will soon follow.  

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Coming December 2013, my first Urban Fantasy
Go To Hell
What would you give to cure mankind's suffering?   
Dr. Spencer Williams, a brilliant young researcher, is on the verge of that discovery.  Haunted by the freakish suicide of his famous mother, he is driven to find a cure for the illness that ended her life.  Blessed--or cursed--from birth with second sight, Spencer's personal grail is within his grasp.  Through a secret mix of blood magic and genetic engineering, he has synthesized Marvan, a miraculous medicine that could leapfrog mankind to the next evolutionary phase. 
But Spencer has huge hurdles to clear.  Getting a new drug to market takes big bucks.  And how exactly is he supposed to keep Marvan's unique formula a secret?  As word of his discovery leaks out, powerful players want a piece of the action.  Hell, they want it all.   Spencer must make the choice, does he go with the devil he knows or the devil himself?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The following link takes you to a piece in today's Hartford Courant.  I'd originally entitled the piece, "Why Your Insurance Company Wants you Dead."