Paul Conti has a Stanford Medical School and Harvard (chief psychiatric resident) pedigree. But it was his compassion for clients and an appreciation of therapists that was remarkable. Many psychiatrists wind up doing biological psychiatry. As medical doctors, their primary, and for some sole, treatment is offering medication. Paul really appreciates the value of good therapy toward making positive changes.
Although based in Portland, he was working to build a national, and at times international, practice. I’m licensed in Oregon and New York, which was beneficial as I joined the Pacific Premier Group. A mix of counselors, coaches, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners and psychiatrists. Each of us are independent contractors, working together as a diverse multi-disciplinary team. A great balance of independence and mutual support.
I obviously can’t go into the clients we see. But when Paul wrote a book it included endorsements by Lady Gaga, Tommy Hilfiger, Carole Bayer Sager and Kim Kardashian.
I’ve personally worked with a Marvel superhero and a supervillain. Not in the same session and with no explosions, flying or uncanny feats of strength evident. With billionaires and celebrities, the cliché was true, money, power and/or fame doesn’t bring you happiness. In some ways, just a different type of misery. I got to visit clients in settings far more posh than I could ever afford. Limousine pick ups and such. Not being overwhelmed by the financial resources required a different skill set from how I started, where it was not being overwhelmed by the lack of resources.
As satisfying as the practice was, the call to write was strong. Writing fiction remained a wonderful escape, a chance to go into that world where I had complete control over how the story progressed. It took me about a year to write and edit and edit and edit The Master Mind.
The story was sparked by my being a participant in federally-funded ESP experiments. The researcher, Charles Honorton, was a nice guy. But what if he was more like the psychologists who helped the CIA fine tune torture for enhanced interrogation? I had some unusual EEG activity and my ESP results were intriguing (several positive hits) but not statistically significant. What if my character did show definitive signs of ESP, and the psychologist who ran the experiment was determined to use him to prove its existence? Captain Ahab and Moby Dick.
Then it took a year to sell the book. I had been away too long from my previous agent, who had only sold my books to a publisher that had published me before. And that publisher, having my past works be a barely break-even proposition, was not responsive. Though self-publishing had blossomed from vanity presses to a thriving industry, I wanted someone else to see that the work was marketable. And I didn’t want to deal with all the subsequent logistics of getting a book out.
I was fortunate to connect with Mike Aloisi at AM Ink Publishing. While I had good connections with St. Martin’s, it’s been an amazing experience having a publisher who is so immediately responsive and collaborative. For example, he asked for suggestions for a cover for The Master Mind. I came up with the idea of Rodin’s Thinker with an EEG cap. I had my son, who does graphic design-and developed this web site-do a rough. But my son had his own idea and asked if he could submit it as well. I said sure. Mike liked it so such he hired my son to do it. I have never been happier at having my idea rejected.
The Master Mind, 2022