Monday, December 17, 2012

Barry Johnson - Unbridled Greed - Author Interview

Author Interview 

1. How did you come up with the title?
Greed, opportunity and entitlement are what drives both licensed providers and professional crooks to commit health care fraud.  Of those motivators, "Greed" I believe is the most powerful, and the word that I thought would be most compelling to someone considering books on a shelf.  "Unbridled" was chosen from a list of words that were synonymous with "unlimited" or "unrestrained", the aspects of fraud that ultimately result in the apprehension of the culprits (boldness due to early success results in sloppiness and overreaching, which even in our flawed detection systems eventually gets detected).

2. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Absolutely. Health care fraud and abuse is a 300 to 500 billion dollar a year problem in this country and not only are licensed providers now guilty of it but major crime rings are stealing a larger portion of our health care dollars every year. These crimes cost every family in the country over $5,000 a year either in wasted tax revenue or increased health care insurance premiums. If the general population were more engaged, more aware of the extent of the problem and how it affects them, we could all play a larger role in helping prevent it. 


3. How much of the book is realistic?
The actual fraud schemes, detection techniques and limitations of detection and enforcement are all based on actual crimes and real schemes.  The murders, other violence, and the characters are fictitious, but are representative of actual criminal activities that are now growing more and more common because of the involvement of multiple organized crime rings.    


4. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?
Yes. I feel the second half of the book is better written and involves less lecturing/teaching about health care fraud, but pursuant to question #2, education was one of the reasons I wanted to write this series.  My editor told me fiction is for fun, not for education, but I learn a lot about the law when I read a Grisham novel, and so I hoped I would be able to mix in a little education.  I believe now that I have some experience I could do it better the next time in the next story.  More story, faster pacing, more description of the characters, who in my mind I can see clearly but that may be a problem for the reader, and fewer teaching moments. Also, I think I would shorten the dialog and make it more realistic and natural in the first part of the book because I think I got better at it in the last half. 


5. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Writing it multiple times. I submitted a portion of the first draft to a carefully chosen editor and he blasted me and told me I needed to understand Point of View and tense and needed to read a couple of books he recommended, which I did.  So I re-wrote it the first time.  Then the entire newly re-worked manuscript went to that same editor and he edited it again. I then included all his punctuation changes, and re-wrote many sections he didn't like or commented needed change.  So I essentially re-wrote it the second time, it took 6 weeks of 9 hour days to accomplish that task.  After I converted it for the publisher to a book format/layout, I made additional changes along the way. Re-works are very challenging and when you consider every chapter was written at least 3 times before the editor even saw the first draft, that's the most difficult part of the process in my opinion.


6. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I began to learn a new skill and to appreciate aspects of good writing that I was never aware of.  As a reader you know what you like personally about a book and a style of writing, but you have no idea of how it is achieved. I was never consciously  aware of a story pace that appealed to me as a reader until I read the first things I wrote and could tell it was too slow/boring.  I was never aware of differing POV's, thinking rather that the narrator was always a disinterested and objective observer, and that piece of knowledge was the biggest thing I learned other than the time and dedication it takes to actually write 140,000 words and keep the story straight and moving forward. In the process of selecting an editor and a printer and distributor I also learned there are sharks in the waters preying on amateur authors. Many are trying to get you to pay up front and sign contracts that no one with any experience would ever agree to. I'm thankful I've been in the business world for 40 years.

7. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
As a sophomore in high school I was blessed to be in an accelerated English class where Mrs. Baumgartner tutored 12 fortunate students for a solid year on how to write and use the English language.  Those skills were honed in college and in dental school and in my professional career over the last 40 years.  I have written articles and contributed to other authors' works but never undertook writing a fictional manuscript before now. I also learned in college that interesting writing in exams can make up for lack of knowledge in many cases.




8. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I have two. John Grisham and Malcolm Gladwell. The commonality between their works is that I gain a perspective of some aspect of our everyday world and environment that I was not previously aware of and many times had not even thought about. Gladwell is unique and presents thought provoking perspectives and describes things we've all experienced but never dissected or though about (BLINK was a revelation about something that governed many of my decisions every day, but which I never really thought was universally valid). Grisham, he is the master of story telling, pace, twists and revelation. I have always thought capital punishment was 90% good until I read The Confession which gave me a new perspective and modified my thinking. This is a common experience I have in every book he writes and I read. Also, the moral aspect of his stories allows us to see the good and bad in all situations and we see how his characters deal with those issues.  The fact that we see good and moral outcomes and decisions from his characters is something missing in many author's works.  I love almost everything he writes.

9. Tell us your latest news.
I am working on another manuscript that deals with drug and pharmacy fraud and medical identity theft.  I just spent 3 days at the National Health Care Anti Fraud Association's Annual Conference where I signed nearly 300 books and met a lot of interesting professionals in the anti-fraud business. I also attended several classes on the latest fraud schemes and most recent convictions.


10. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Buy the book and read a good story that hopefully will awaken you to the realities of a serious problem that is continually understated by our government and the health care industry. Because they cannot fully control it and they can't accurately measure it they downplay the magnitude of it.  Medicaid and Medicare have the most serious abuse and fraud problems but so does every commercial insurer.  Some are becoming more proactive and are preventing fraud but the growing problem of medical identity theft and the public's lack of concern and involvement in reporting or even being aware of it will only worsen as health care reform covers more and more previously uninsured individuals. 



About the Book

A tough, tenacious DOJ investigator, Bryan Hampton is hot on the trail of a greedy doctor suspected of insurance fraud. But when this major medical fraud investigation is suddenly and shockingly derailed by politics, greed, and bribes, Hampton decides he's had enough of Chicago's dirty politics and cronyism—let alone fighting corruption on both sides.

Hampton transfers to Las Vegas and teams with Paul Dixon, with whom he shares a common goal: aggressively fighting the health care fraud and abuse that victimizes countless patients and robs every American household of thousands of dollars each year. Soon, Hampton and his team uncover a massive fraud scheme operating beneath the bright lights of Sin City. But this highly organized and highly sophisticated band of fraudsters will stop at nothing—violence, torture, and even murder. As he launches a pulse-quickening quest for justice, Hampton will realize the peril of fighting this good fight. This might be the fight of Bryan Hampton’s life—or, if he’s not careful, it could be the fight for his life….

Prices/Formats: $14.99 paperback
Pages: 362
Genre: Fiction, Thriller
Publisher: Rocochi Ridge Publishing
Release Date: November 2012
Buy Links: Amazon, Pathway Book Service


About the Author

A native of Las Vegas, Dr. Barry L. Johnson was a founding partner, President and CEO of HealthCare Insight (HCI), a health care fraud and abuse detection and prevention organization for 15 years. Prior to founding HCI, Johnson worked in medical software, publication, and database development with Medical Data Research and Medicode where he was a senior vice president. Johnson earned his D.D.S. at Northwestern University School of Dentistry and a B.S. at the University of Utah. He and his wife Joyce have 5 married children and 15 grandchildren. They live in Utah. Johnson is currently at work on the second thriller in the series, Deliberate Misdirection.

Links to connect with Barry:
Web site




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