The Human Trial, Interview with Audrey Gale

Dr. Randall Archer is a misfit…

…in the brutal blue-collar home where he grew up

.…as a sixteen-year-old escaping to college, then medical school, on a full scholarship to Harvard

.…in the highest echelons of Boston society, where the woman he marries and the blueblood research partner with whom he shares his laboratory belong.

Even Archer’s brilliance as a pathologist catapults him into direct and dangerous conflict with the medical establishment he fought so hard to join.

As the Great Depression presses down around him, Archer teeters at the edge of a precipice. He must choose between his hard-won career and the sacred oaths he took as a doctor and scientist—before all his choices are lost forever.

An interview with Audrey

Before we dive into everything else, tell us about the main characters we meet in “The Human Trial.”

First is the pathologist, Dr. Randall Archer, with whom the story opens. He’s from a brutal blue collar home, which he escapes at the age of 16 by winning a scholarship to Harvard, which carries him through medical school to a pathology specialty. Archer, standing out for all the wrong reasons at Harvard, nevertheless collaborates with a blueblood physicist developing a breakthrough microscope. It offers, Archer anticipates, many advantages over others at the medical school. It also leads to Archer meeting another blueblood whom, despite its unlikeliness, he marries. 
HIs collaborator is Dr. Adam Wakefield, PhD Physics, whose breakout microscope changes everything for the two men, not just in what they are able to observe, but in the increasing risk they face as, inadvertently, their findings challenge the very basis of western medical theory and practice.
Finally, Elizabeth Perrish, the sole daughter to the Brahmin Perrishes who traced their history in Boston back to its founding, is a woman ahead of her times, determined to do more than her high social ranking expects of her. Her budding relationship with Archer is the final straw which causes her to be cast from her family, penniless but undaunted, during the worsening Depression. 

Are Dr. Randall Archer and Dr. Adam Wakefield based on real people?

While the two characters are inspired by real life scientists, they are a figment of my imagination. I focused more on their discoveries, which likely cost them both their lives, than on portraying the men and their actual existences with accuracy.

Tell us about your research process. Did you consult scientists and healing practitioners? 

To start with, I mined information from my vet. His knowledge was sketchy about the scientists but more solid on the underlying science. After studying their efforts, I then read everything I could on physics and quantum physics, medical practice and the field, and the growing movement looking into the energetic basis of existence. For example, I own a large text called, “The Rife Handbook” by Nenah Sylver, PhD, which lists diseases and the innate frequencies of their microbial life to be used in combating them. I attended a conference on the subject where lay people like me as well as PhDs and MDs gathered to share information. I purchased a frequency generating device for home use. Finally, I worked directly with a noted physicist and pathologist who helped me put their knowledge into plain English.

You write about complex medical issues and scientific concepts in your novel – how did you go about making this subject digestible and accessible to readers? 

This was by far the greatest challenge of “The Human Trial.” Specialists have exclusive language, or jargon, often Latin- or Greek-based, which makes simplifying concepts into understandable English very difficult. But with their patience and my persistence and feedback from early readers, I think we got there. You be the judge. As my goal was to have a broad range of people begin to demand new and better medical treatment, it was also essential to utilize good storytelling techniques. Thus flawed characters, a difficult time in world history during the 1930s, a love triangle, suspense, twists were essential.

Some of your characters aren’t exactly likable, yet they’re still relatable. How did you strike that balance?

A flippant answer to that point is: Like life! That is where I began, with flawed characters, much like us, then adding often unbearable pressures, to endure or not endure. That makes them relatable. I hope readers ask, what would I do in that situation? Would I be as brave or duplicitous? How would I rationalize my choices? Since we can all relate to difficult situations, even when one does not approve of a character’s choices or doesn’t  like him per se, sympathy is evoked by the predicament. It’s a phrase I quite hate, but largely, “we’re all doing the best we can.”

What do you hope readers will take away from your novel?

My hope for “The Human Trial” is that minds will be opened to new possibilities which  have been successfully blocked for almost a century. Assuming the discoverers had what they’d tested and believed they had, millions of people have died unnecessarily in that time. I hope readers will realize that they must be their own demanding advocates within our healthcare system. We must all ask questions, demand answers and proof, read everything, talk to everyone, compare responses.
Most of all I hope that someone in the position to carry forward this science will pick up the mantle and bring its benefits to all of life.

Without giving too much away, can you give us a sneak peek at what you have planned for the rest of the series?

I’ve extensively fleshed out the second installment in the trilogy that commences with “The Human Trial.” In it, the suppression of the science and fate of the scientists carries into the 1970s, another troubled time in our history. Student activism had carried over from black power to anti-war to feminism. Everyone had a cause which often gave participants license to demonstrate, sit-in, walk-out, protest, and in a few cases, riot. The Vietnam War was coming to a humiliating ending, and Nixon was about to leave the White House, unceremoniously. 
Against that backdrop, the next generation of Archers and Wakefields find themselves caught up in dangerous circumstances which first, they struggle to comprehend and then, struggle to survive. 

Finally, as we ourselves struggled to cope with Covid-19, its unprecedented deaths and shutdowns, it hit me: since the science of these stories deals directly with viral disease, a current day story makes more than perfect sense. It makes it necessary. All of these multigenerational continuations also emphasize the long and successful suppression of life-saving discoveries and their enormous costs in human life, both globally and down to the very personal lives of the next generation to be caught up in it. 


Meet Audrey Gale

Audrey Gale long dreamed of being a writer, but never anticipated the circuitous road she’d take to get there. After twenty-plus years in the banking industry, she grew tired of corporate gamesmanship and pursued her master’s in fiction writing at the University of Southern California. Her first novel, a legal thriller entitled The Sausage Maker’s Daughters, was published under the name A.G.S. Johnson. The novel explores one woman’s struggle to find her place amidst the upheaval of the radical 1960s. Her second, The Human Trial, is the first book in a medical-thriller trilogy inspired by Gale’s own experiences with the gap between traditional medicine and approaches based on the findings of the great physicists of the 20th Century, like Einstein and Bohr. Both The Sausage Maker’s Daughters and The Human Trial incorporate Gale’s fascination with historical and scientific research, and always with women finding their places. Gale lives in Los Angeles with her husband and dogs where she is found hiking the Santa Monica Mountains every chance she gets.

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