We’re thrilled to have here today Desmond Donahue from Ian A. O’Connor’s new novel, The Wrong Road Home. Desmond was a 55-year-old surgeon living in Miami, Florida.
It is a pleasure to have you with us today at Beyond the Books!
Thank you so for this interview, Desmond. Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers?
First off, I must say Ian did a fabulous job telling my story. So let me set the stage. For twenty years I held myself out to be a surgeon, first in Ireland, where I said I went to medical school and also practiced, and then in Coral Gables, Florida, where I operated as a house surgeon at St. Anslem’s Hospital for thirteen years. When my charade was uncovered and I had become the scourge of the medical community, it was Ian who offered to set the record straight and write my story. He was emphatic in his insistence that what I told him about my life had to be one hundred percent true, but he promised he would be compassionate in showing the readers what was the driving force behind why I did what I did.
Do you feel the author did a good job colorizing your personality? If not, how would you like to have been portrayed differently?
I’m still in awe at just how accurate Ian turned out to be in describing me. And I marvel at how he was able to get inside my head. As I read the finished manuscript, I relived those moments of utter despair I felt as a youth, moments I wouldn’t even now wish on anyone. He continued to capture my essence as I moved into young adulthood working in England and Wales with the promise of a better tomorrow always steering me onward; and then, finally, to his recounting of those emotionally barren years after I had sold my soul in a Faustian bargain with the devil.
What do you believe is your strongest trait?
Wow, that’s a tough one to answer seeing as how my whole adult life was built upon a fraudulent foundation. But if I had to tell you my strongest trait, I would have to say it was my drive to be the best doctor possible. And, yeah, I know how ridiculous that sounds, even to my own ears. But I truly cared for each and every patient I ever treated.
Hands down that has to be that I’m a liar. Indeed, my whole adult life lived as a doctor was one, big, continuous lie. There were times where I actually forgot who the real me was because I had come to believe my own lies.
If you could choose someone in the television or movie industry to play your part if your book was made into a movie, who would that be (and you can’t say yourself!)?
Alas, the perfect actor to play me in a movie is dead. He would have been Richard Harris, an Irishman like myself, and as many of my friends pointed out over the years, we even looked alike. I think Richard would have done a bang-up job.
Do you have a love interest in the book?
Yes. Her name was Margaret Kerrigan, and the woman broke my heart. It is still hard for me to talk about her these many years later, but Margaret had a profound effect on me, and will continue to do so until the day I die. Ian captured her essence as if he had known her, and, God help me for saying this, he painted the perfect word picture of the utter evil that resided within Margaret. I realize now that I was a pitiful moth attracted to a most dangerous flame, and yet even after I discovered who the true Margaret Kerrigan really was, I still could not get her out of my thoughts. I am still her prisoner today.
At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?
Once Ian and I started our conversations and I had told him the unvarnished truth about myself, we paused while he wrote the initial draft of the prologue and the first couple of chapters. That took about three weeks. I remember asking myself at least several times a day just what had I gotten myself into? I was embarrassed and nervous, and I wanted to back out of the deal we had. Did I really want to be exposed for all the world to see? It was not a good time. But it turned out just fine in the end.
If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why?
I sure wouldn’t want to be my friend, Roger Connelly. I was envious of Roger, simply because he was everything I wasn’t. To begin with, Roger was a real doctor. He grew up privileged with everything life could offer, yet underneath a thin veneer of gentility he was a wastrel, dead at thirty-seven in a single car crash while in a drunken stupor. His was truly a wasted life.
How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away?
Ian knows how to craft a compelling story from start to finish, but I was curious as to how he would end the book. I’ve never been a demonstrative man, yet when I finally got to read final pages, they actually brought tears to my eyes. I won’t say any more. The readers will see what I mean.
What words of wisdom would you give your author if he decided to write another book with you in it?
Nope, there won’t be a sequel, or a second book with more tales of my time masquerading as a surgeon. I would follow the words of wisdom from of one of my heroes, General Douglas MacArthur, who ended his Farewell Address to Congress with these words, “Like the old soldier in the barrack’s ballad, I will simply fade away.” So, too, it’s time for Desmond Donahue to simply fade away.
Thank you for this interview, Desmond.
Title: The Wrong Road Home – A story of treachery and deceit inspired by true events
Author: Ian A. O’Connor
Release Date: March 31, 2016
Publisher: Pegasus Publishing & Entertainment Group
Genre: Historical Medical Crime
Format: Trade paperback and EBook
Purchase on Amazon
“An intimate look at a life lived as a lie.” – Kirkus Reviews
Inspired by a true story, The Wrong Road Home is the story of Desmond Donahue. Born into abject poverty in Ireland, Donahue went on to successfully practice his craft as a surgeon for 20 years—first in Ireland and then the United States. So isn’t Donahue’s tale a classic rags-to-riches, American dream story? Hardly. Donahue was girded with nothing more than a Chicago School System GED and several counterfeit medical diplomas. It seems impossible—and understandably so—but it’s a story based on a Miami Herald Sunday edition front page exposé. An Oprah producer pursued the imposter for weeks, as did Bill O’Reilly. Simply put, Desmond Donahue’s story is a story that really happened.
A gripping story that is alternately shocking, heartbreaking, and unbelievable, The Wrong Road Home will leave readers spellbound. Ian A. O’Connor, an imaginative and skillful storyteller, paints a vivid portrait of a complicated, complex character who comes alive within the story’s pages. Reminiscent of Catch Me if You Can, The Wrong Road Homefuses elements of true crime, memoir, and drama. Groundbreaking, inventive and innovative, The Wrong Road Home is an extraordinary story exceptionally well told.