- Associated Press - Sunday, May 22, 2016

MENDHAM, N.J. (AP) - Four years after one of his books was adapted into a Fox Network prime-time drama series, three more tales spun by a Mendham author are on a similar path to visual mass-media exposure.

Ron Felber, whose nonfiction “Il Dottore: The Double Life of a Mafia Doctor” spawned Fox’s “Mob Doctor” series in 2012, says the SyFy Channel currently is adapting his best-seller “Mohave Incident” into an hour-long episode of its popular “Paranormal Witness” documentary series, which is expected to air in the fall.

Felber is recently retired from a successful sales career that saw him rise to CEO of a chemical company, but has been writing books and articles since 1977, including a series for True Detective magazine informed by his previous career as a deputy sheriff transporting federal criminals. His work alternates between fiction and nonfiction, including the crime-thriller novel “Dark Angel” published last month by Barricade Books.

“You ask me what I am, I’m a novelist, but really I would say even more than that, I am a dramatist,” Felber told the Daily Record of Parsippany (http://dailyre.co/20muxoU ). “All these books are written very visually, and very easily transferred into a screenplay. I like to think of it as a movie playing in people’s heads while they read it.”

“Dark Angel,” much of which takes place in New Jersey (name checks include Morris Plains and Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital), is the third in a series of stories featuring ex-cop Jack Madson, this time on the trail of a Nazi geneticist and other evil-doers using science and technology to create the “Fourth Reich.”

Fans of Jack Madson and noir fiction in general will be thrilled to know that a British screenwriter is currently adapting Madson for a feature film, incorporating plot elements of both “Dark Angel” and the 2013 novel that introduced him, “A Man of Indeterminate Value.”

“It deals with genetic engineering and super soldiers, and experiments going on at Princeton University,” Felber said of the “Dark Angel” film adaptation. “They want to take ‘Dark Angel,’ which probably has the best plot, and combine it with the first book for background, where you get to know who Jack Madson is. We’re a couple of phone calls away from putting something together and getting an option.”

Another title from his nonfiction catalog, “The Hunt for Khun Sa: Drug Lord of the Golden Triangle,” was purchased by a large southeast Asian film company that commissioned a pilot to be filmed for a potential 10-episode series on Netflix.

“He was the biggest heroin dealer in the world,” Felber said of Khun Sa, a legendary international criminal and a natural subject for Netflix to follow up its 2015 docudrama series on Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar. “I actually went to Burma, met DEA agents in Bangkok and went over the border.”

Felber enjoyed a tidy profit from “Mob Doctor,” and hopes to see the latest adaptations continue his success on the small and large screens.

“It ran only one season, 12 episodes,” Felber said of “Mob Doctor.” ”I had no involvement in the series. They changed the main character to a woman, and it really changed the whole scope of how credible it was, and how it played out. It had some elements that maybe some people favored, but overall it really destroyed the edginess of the story.”

He’s working closely with the writers and producers who are adapting his other works, but has no regrets about the Hollywood mangling of “Mob Doctor.”

“I guess I’m an optimistic fellow,” he said. “I would be more likely to say that it got me into television, and so maybe these other things wouldn’t have happened. I write everything for television now. My heroes growing up were guys like Rod Serling, Ray Bradbury, Paddy Chayefsky, dramatists who worked on ‘Kraft Theatre’ and ‘Playhouse 90.’ “

In between promotional efforts for “Dark Angel” and meetings with agents and producers (“These deals are very difficult, a lot of back and forth”), Felber is teaching creative writing to doctoral candidates at Drew University’s Caspersen School of Graduate Studies.

He’s also looking forward to seeing himself adapted into a television character.

“I am actually a character in ‘Mojave Incident,’ so they will have an actor playing me, which should be interesting,” Felber said.

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Information from: Daily Record (Parsippany, N.J.), http://www.dailyrecord.com

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