I see dead people. Lots of them. No, I’m not Haley Joel Osmet in the Sixth Sense, just a human anatomist who spent 40 years teaching medical students, residents, graduate students and paramedics. And yes, I’ve seen the insides of more bodies than I can count. It’s a rare privilege to be able to do so, and I am forever grateful to the body donors who have allowed me to learn and teach.
I also had an active career in bench research, studying hormonal mechanisms involved in growth and development at the biochemical and molecular level in an invertebrate model system. Grant writing, paper writing, chapter writing, book writing. Lots of writing, and I was good at it, but all somewhat formulaic, nothing creative or imaginative. Well, I did raise the insects for Silence of the Lambs – a story for another time.
I had a list of things I wanted to do once I’d retired, but the first thing I had to do was get my right knee joint replaced. That put a damper on the sky diving, bungee jumping, flying a small plane and traveling the world with a just a backpack I had planned (wink, wink), at least for a while. I did want to write a book though, so I just sat down and wrote one in about six months. Little did I know that it would be another three years before it became a hold-it-in-your hand reality. Based on something I’d learned as a scientist – you need mentors to improve your craft – I joined two critique groups, and between them I learned how shape a story. I had the basics but there was so much more!
I have just finished my second book in the Rhe Brewster mystery series and am working on the third. I love my main character – she’s a little bit of me but also a little bit of the person I’d like to be. But the most fun I’ve had writing these books is doing the research to make my books as authentic as possible. I’ve interviewed a lobsterman, sail maker and MicMac elder, all of them real characters who have allowed me to enrich my stories. More recently I’ve talked to a mammoth pumpkin grower, an arson investigator and a pilot. I’m learning about firearms and am contemplating getting a conceal and carry license. Did I mention I obtained an EMT license? It was hard being on the student side of the desk after so many years and I hyperventilated during the practical exam, but what I learned has proven very helpful for my books!
I highly recommend the Writers Police Academy, which was in Greensboro, NC, last year and will be in Wisconsin next. There was so much practical information from police, FBI, ATF, firemen, and EMTs packed into three days that my head spun for weeks afterward. Where else could you learn how to collect evidence underwater, breach (blow up) outside and inside doors, or go undercover as a hooker?
My learning curve continues, now into marketing and advertising. These are not things I like to do, but every author must, if they want to sell their books. I blog at sailingaway.wordpress.com and hope to have some posts on my experience using a marketing firm later this spring.
I haven’t given up on my bucket list. I’ve been to Egypt and Jordan and recently went up in a small plane for a couple of hours. I love small planes, having grown up flying with my uncle. Not sure if I want to get my pilot’s license, but I’m trying yoga and have a date to play with a crane (not the bird!) in a week or two.
Death in a Red Canvas Chair is available on Kindle and Amazon. Death in a Dacron Sail will be released in early February. Death by Pumpkin is coming along. Check out the covers; my daughter is the model.
Many thanks to my favorite Story Reading Ape for allowing me to chat on his blog!
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