What: “Fatal Remedy” Book Launch
Where: Bryant-Lake Bowl Theater
When: 7 p.m., June 9
After years of writing nonfiction, Minneapolis author Antonia Felix has released her debut novel, “Fatal Remedy.” More than just a foray into fiction, “Fatal Remedy” represents Felix on the cusp of a new chapter of her career.
It’s a thriller that follows sports psychologist Anthony Robson in a race to foil Dr. Clayton Shepherd, a sexual predator psychiatrist who uses medication to manipulate his patients into killing themselves. The inspiration for the novel is rooted in Felix’s nonfiction sensibilities, but the thriller trappings are a bold step away from anything she has written before.
The Minneapolis native started training as an opera singer from age 15, studying vocal performance in Paris and the Mannes College of music in New York. She said she always dreamed of writing fiction but fell into a successful nonfiction career after college.
Her biographies of Laura Bush, Condoleezza Rice and others brought her national attention, and her most recent biography of Sonia Sotomayor landed her on the New York Times best seller list.
“A lot of the creative writing had to take the back burner,” she said. “But then I just bit the bullet and decided to finally commit to it.”
Felix had been working on creative writing for years while still pursuing a singing career on the side. She performed around Europe and attended writer’s workshops on fiction. She wrote a draft of “Fatal Remedy” before heading back to school to get her Master of Fine Arts in creative writing. After earning her degree in late 2010, Felix felt confident enough in the novel to give it to an agent.
The book tackles some weighty, controversial issues, including the medical ethics surrounding antidepressants and the influence of pharmaceutical companies. Felix said the research sensibility she learned as a nonfiction author helped drive the novel and inspire the story she wanted to tell.
“Those skills that I had developed for so long really came in handy,” she said. “Once I caught on to these ideas for the novel it was really fun to apply those research skills to this kind of work rather than nonfiction.”
Felix said that writing “Fatal Remedy” was also the site of a lot of self-discovery. She was surprised to learn that writing dialogue came easily to her. Felix said she would often “hear” a conversation as she would write it and going back to color in the narrative around the dialogue was more of a struggle.
“When you sit down to do a big work like this, you really find out what your strengths and weaknesses are,” Felix said. “That was the big revelation for me.”
Now, after recently being hired as an adjunct professor at Hamline University, Felix is turning her attention toward playwriting and screenwriting. She said she plans to get her feet wet by first adapting “Fatal Remedy.”
Felix said she’s excited to start this new, more creative phase of her career.
“With a background in performing, I guess it was a natural for me. But I had never taken the time to explore that as a writer,” Felix said. “It’s a big part of who I am, and those personae are melding together.”
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