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MTW Book Review and Author Interview – Oil and Water

by P J Lazos

My third book review is Oil and Water, which follows the stories of two main character groups, who eventually come together. This is a completely different thriller to the other two books.

The Tirabis are a family who have lost their parents. Their father, Marty, is an inventor and has invented a machine called the TDU that can create oil out of waste. When Marty and his wife are killed in a car accident, after being forced off the road, the children struggle to cope. They are targeted by someone who seems desperate to get the plans to the TDU. However the Tirabis are not a normal family. They are resourceful and clever, and the younger child Gil, has the skills to continue his father’s work.
Hart works for a big oil company, but he’s becoming disillusioned with it. His boss, Bicky, is also his father-in-law, and a control freak. After his wife dies, Hart re-evaluates his priorities.
Was Hart’s wife’s death the result of foul play? Who’s attacking the Tirabis?
There are also a few smaller stories woven in, all concerning the effect of waste, and oil, on the environment. One of the Tirabi children end up in the Middle East and the impact on the environment is explored there, as well as the effect of landfill beyond the Tirabi’s grounds.
This is a very ambitious book in the way it looks at the small and big picture of how we live and our reliance on fossil fuels. For most of the book, the story moves back and forth between the two groups of characters, following their lives, until eventually the two groups meet, and events start to spiral out of control.
This is thoughtful, well-written, and the characters are engaging, and its clear the author has done lots of research. My one quibble would be there’s too much story, and that the two main stories could have come together earlier in the book. However, it kept my attention and I wanted to know how things would resolve. I wasn’t disappointed and overall I found this a very satisfying read.

Author Interview
This was a really involved, detailed look at the impact of oil and big business on the environment. This is obviously something you are passionate about.

1. When you did you first start writing, and what prompted you to write this book?
I started writing about 20 years ago when I moved to Central, PA. We had a lovely writing studio in a Lititz, the next town over, call Rabbit Hill Writers Studio.  It was a great place to learn the craft.  I wrote “Oil and Water” because I’m passionate about the environment, because my husband used to be a commercial diver and had a lot of good information in his head, because I read an article about a machine that converts trash into oil and thought that it would be great if this were actually so, and all that became a mishmash of thoughts that ultimately became Oil and Water.

2. Are you indie or traditionally published?

3. When not writing you are an environmental lawyer (according to your bio). How do you find the time to write? 
I write on the train into work; I write early in the morning, or at night when there’s a tiny bit of time. “Oil and Water” was basically written in 20 minutes increments. When I wrote the first draft my kids were little and that’s about all the time that was available to me.

4. The TDU is a fantastic invention. Is there anything like the TDU in production?
There was a real life company, Changing World Technologies, that was operating a version of the TDU using turkey offal.  They had a pilot project at the Philadelphia Naval Yard.  I know there was an issue with state permitting and a problem with the smell that emanated from the facility when they moved to the midwest.  I’m not sure why, but Changing World Technologies has since gone bankrupt, and a Canadian company bought them out. Whether they are still operating the technology the same way is anyone’s guess, but the company is still operating, so maybe the glitches are being worked out.  I sure hope so.

5. Have you written other books, and if so is it a mystery/thriller as well?
I wrote another book, “Six Sisters,” which is a collection of novellas about family dysfunction and the ties that bind us to each other even beyond death.  That book was great fun to write. Only one of those three stories in environmental and it’s really only a subplot.

6. What are your plans for the next book? If there is one!
My next book is about pharmaceuticals and a vaccine controversy.  I’m in the nascent stages and just getting through the “where’s the bathroom” stage as in when you start a new job and have to figure out where the bathroom is and where they keep the coffee. I started it in November when I did NaNoWriMo.  I had been putting the start off for some time so it was great to have the push to get it moving.  If you’re not careful, you can let marketing suck up all your free time and I certainly don’t want marketing to displace creativity.

You can find out more about PJ Lazos here.


  1. P. J. Lazos says:

    Thanks, TJ Green for the great book review!

  2. P. J. Lazos says:

    Thanks for the lovely review, Tracey!

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