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Couple pens pharmaceutical thriller

As husband and wife, Matt and Erin Smith consider themselves a pretty good pair. They think they make a pretty good author team as well.

The Newport couple, who spent the last three years writing and promoting their first fiction novel, Trials: The Risk/Benefit Ratio, are now raising two young daughters all the while promoting the pharmaceutical thriller that recently received a wide-spread release in January. They have three upcoming books signings scheduled in Woodbury at Borders, Central Park and Caribou Coffee, and the pair that makes up the pseudonym M.E. Smith said that the promotional aspect of the novel endeavor is surprisingly more difficult than the writing process.

"We really didn't have any roadblocks in writing the book," Matt Smith said. "The hardest part is just getting it out and generating the interest. It's been very busy, but that makes it all the more exciting."

Although they're concentrating on building up local interest in the book at this point, the Smiths admit that part hasn't been as challenging as it could have been.

The couple wrote their novel in 2004 and spent another year or so "cleaning up" the copy and gaining feedback from trusted sources before they shopped the book to publishers. They found success on the first official attempt when Beaver's Pond Press agreed to publish their first run.

A balancing act

Since signing with their publisher the couple has been mixing in public relations excursions while picking the kids up from preschool.

"It makes it difficult because I'm with the kids full-time at home," said Erin, about the promotion of the book. "But Matt now works from home, so we have plenty of family time and still get out there to make the appearances and generate interest.

"Trials" is a pharmaceutical thriller in the truest sense. It centers around protagonist Grant Adams whose daughter is suffering from a potentially fatal disease. Adams work in the pharmaceutical industry and takes a job with a drug company in hopes of being able to admit his daughter into the country's only clinical trial testing for a miraculous new drug which has claims to treat the fatal disease.

According to the synopsis: "In the quest to save his daughter, Grant gets caught in a web of unauthorized research, unethical science, and murder. When he discovers a frightening secret, he is forced to make an impossible choice."

Applying their experience

Although the novel is Matt and Erin Smith's first crack as authors, the couple said the detail and plot line in the book were inspired by their professional backgrounds.

The couple met in Eau Claire during college, where Erin interned in Washington D.C. for the Federal Bureau of Investigations before working for the Immigration and Naturalization Service. She then spent time in private investigations for an insurance company.

Matt studied forensic science, interned for the Anoka County Coroner and the started on a career in the pharmaceutical industry, where he know manages clinical trials.

The couple took their experiences and applied them to the novel they co-wrote as Erin was pregnant with their first child. That's where the emotion in the novel's protagonists ethical struggles in finding a cure for his daughter come in.

"This is obviously a work of fiction," Matt Smith said. "But we have pretty extensive backgrounds that help out with the novel. And being parents gives us that perspective of 'How far would you go to save you child?'"

The couple said their hope is to continue down the path of writing pharmaceutical-based thrillers, which they said they see a great market for.

"You see the popularity of the medical thrillers, and how that's taken off in writing and in television and movies," Matt Smith said. "We think what we're doing is unique and if we can get a chance to continue doing, that would be great.

"We feel like we're sitting on a great book, but at the end of the day it's been exciting for us to work together and get one reader at a time."

To read an excerpt from Trials, go