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Writing doctor prescribes crime thriller

In the late 1980s, Sean Costello achieved what many aspiring authors only dream of — a book deal with a major publishing company.
Local author Sean Costello's seventh novel, “Squall,” will be available for purchase at Chapters Oct. 1. Supplied photo.

In the late 1980s, Sean Costello achieved what many aspiring authors only dream of — a book deal with a major publishing company.

Over the next three years, the Sudbury man went on to publish three horror novels with Pocket Books out of the United States.

The publishing company wanted him to continue publishing a book a year. But as a new father and anaesthesiologist who worked 60-hour weeks at the local hospital, Costello couldn't continue at this pace.

“I guess if I'd been in my early 20s and I wanted to be a career writer, that would have been a nice start,” he said. “But I was in deep already. I was in my 30s.”

Costello didn't write another book for almost a decade. When he started again, he worked with a smaller publishing company.

With the help of Sudbury's Scrivener Press, Costello is about to release his seventh book, “Squall.” He said it's been a pleasure working with the publishing company's owner, Laurence Steven.

“When it's time to edit, we just sit out on the deck, so it's great,” he said. “It's back and forth. It's intimate, it's small. There's no pressure. I like it. It's a hobby, so I don't want it to be another point of pressure in my life.”

“Squall” — a crime thriller — has a plot line that's sure to resonate with northerners.

“It's about a bush pilot flying people into hunt camps,” Costello said.

“Deep in January, it's his and his son's birthday. He was out to repair a hunt camp and gets into a bad snow squall, and has to put down on a lake. He ends up crashing the plane and crosses paths in the process with a petty criminal.”

The petty criminal — a fugitive from the law, and worse, from a merciless Toronto drug lord — draws the protagonist into a web of mayhem that puts not only his own life at risk, but also the lives of his wife, son and his unborn child.

Originally written as a screenplay, “Squall" is relatively short — 190 pages.

At a time when electronics provide ready distractions from reading, Costello said he thinks the novel's brevity and action-packed nature work in its favour.

“It's got a kind of a cinematic feel,” he said. “There's this breathless interval of action.”

“Squall,” which costs $18, is available for purchase at Chapters Oct. 1.

The book's official launch takes place a month later — Nov. 1 — starting at 7 p.m. at Laurentian University's Living with Lakes Centre. A book signing will take place at Chapters Nov. 2 from 12-4 p.m.

To learn more about Costello's work, visit or search for “Sean Costello” on Facebook. Learn more about Scrivener Press at

Costello's books:

-Eden's Eyes (1989)
-The Cartoonist (1990)
-Captain Quad (1991)
-Sandman (2000)
-Finders Keepers (2002)
-Here After (2008)
-Squall (2014)

Heidi Ulrichsen

About the Author: Heidi Ulrichsen

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