By J.B. Thompson

In southern California, a young Mayan boy with a blue-crescent-moon tattoo on his chest dies mysteriously. In Central America, a puzzling illness is spreading among tribal villages. And soon – very soon – Luke McKenna, a pediatric E.R. physician in Los Angeles, will discover the link between these events and demons from his dark past as a member of the Pentagon’s most elite and secretive Special Ops unit. The secrets that haunt Luke are about to pull him and the woman he loves into a terrifying house of mirrors. The realm of science and the realm of death are about to collide with devastating force, and the stakes couldn’t be any higher – the future of the human race. Time is running out, and only by reawakening the ghost of Luke McKenna’s past can they discover the truth.

Philip Hawley was born in Portland, Oregon, and grew up in southern California reading the stories of authors like Alistair MacLean, Frederick Forsyth, and Robert Ludlum. After graduating from the University of Notre Dame and USC Medical School, he completed a pediatrics residency at Los Angeles Children’s Hospital, where he now works as a General Pediatrician. Philip became an author to write novels that combine the authenticity and sharp edges of today’s thrillers with the epic adventure elements found in works of the genre’s early masters. HarperCollins released his first novel, STIGMA, on March 1, 2007. You can visit Phil’s website at

J.B.: Growing up with seven brothers and sisters must have honed both your time management and interpersonal relationship skills in a big way. Did being part of a large family have any bearing on your decision to become a pediatrician? Are your siblings still an influence in your life?

PHIL: Coming from a large family had no discernible influence on my choice of careers – at least none of which I’m aware – but as one of the older children I had the advantage of knowing a lot about baby formulas and diapers when I began my pediatrics residency. Today, the biggest influence my siblings exert on my life is probably the fact of my living in Los Angeles. We’re a very close-knit family – I live a few blocks from my parents and within a mile of four brothers and a gaggle of nieces and nephews.

J.B.: A lot of physicians are turning to fiction writing these days. Did you always know you wanted to do both? How do the two careers fit together?

PHIL: I had no inkling that I’d write a book until a few years ago. Candidly, I think the skills one uses as a physician and writer are so vastly different – and often at odds – that physicians have the added challenge of having to overcome their tendency to think (and write) in purely linear terms. In that sense, the two careers don’t “fit together.” Rather, they require different skills, and for me that is the great pleasure of doing both.

J.B.: Please share a little of your experience in the Central American rain forests. How long were you there? What cultural influences did you bring back that have worked themselves into your writing?

PHIL: The sights, sounds, and texture of my characters’ travels in Central America are a reflection of my one-month experience working among Mayan Indian tribes in the Guatemalan rain forests. Happily, and unlike the characters in STIGMA, I had no harrowing moments while working in the rain forests; my brief time working among Mayan tribes was a wonderfully tranquil and serene experience, despite the physical rigors.

J.B.: Tell us about Luke McKenna. Where did he come from? How much of yourself have you put into his character?

PHIL: I really like the juxtaposition of two such vastly different endeavors – pediatrics and covert special ops – and the conflicts that arise from Luke McKenna’s disparate identities. At the same time, the conflicts he grapples with are really amplified renderings of the issues that all of us struggle with in our daily lives. It’s this latter element that I hope will allow readers to identity with Luke’s inner conflict.

And yes, I put some of myself into Luke. We both have brown hair.

J.B.: You’re currently working on your second novel. Can you give us a sneak preview? What’s your ideal writing environment?

PHIL: I wish I could give you a sneak preview, but I’m one of those writers who doesn’t know how the story will unfold until I write it. The plot reveals itself to me only as I write – wondering what will happen next is an irresistible force that motivates my writing. Until I’m further along in book two, I’m afraid all of us will remain in the dark!

J.B.: You lead a busy life with your family, your medical practice and your writing. What sorts of things do you enjoy doing when you have leisure time?

PHIL: Reading, of course, if one of my greatest joys, and the sad irony of writing is that it steals from that activity. Running and, more recently, hiking are also favorites. But nothing compares to an afternoon or evening together with my wife and children – doing anything, anything at all, as long as it doesn’t include electronic devices.

J.B.: Imagine it’s midnight and you’re in the kitchen whipping up a snack. Is it a Dagwood sandwich or are you more of a popcorn, cheese and apples kind of guy?

PHIL: Neither. A bowl of Grape Nuts is the limit of my creativity at that hour.

J.B.: What’s your favorite thing about living in Los Angeles?

PHIL: Family.


J.B. Thompson is the author of two novels of romantic suspense currently in publication ( In addition to conducting author interviews, she writes book and movie reviews. J.B. blogs at “Let’s Do Lunch – The World According to J.B.”. She lives near Nashville, Tennessee with her husband and three teenagers

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