I’m pleased to host Alina Adams today as she writes about the importance of research and how she forayed into worlds she didn’t have a clue how to write about– including mine– pediatric medicine.
My first two published books were Regency romances, set in Regency England (think Jane Austen).
I know nothing about Regency England. (I am of the mindset that nothing romantic could have possibly happened prior to the invention of indoor plumbing).
Yet, the AVON editor who rejected my submitted contemporary romance in 1993 told me that new authors had the best chance of breaking in by writing a Regency romance. So I did some research (i.e. I read a book called “What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew”), and a Regency romance I dutifully wrote, “The Fictitious Marquis,” followed by “Thieves at Heart.” (I was later informed by a copy editor that I’d missed the true Regency period by several decades.)
My first contemporary romance, “Annie’s Wild Ride” featured two Air Force pilots. I know nothing about Air Force pilots. (I’m not even a big fan of flying. In fact, my entire writing career comes down to wanting to write books that can make your cross-country flight feel shorter and less arduous.) I also know nothing about the Air Force Academy in Colorado, or the engineering of roller-coasters, all of which play a big part in the story.
So, once again, I read a book.
(Luckily, while I was writing “Annie’s Wild Ride,” Kelly Flinn, one of the few female pilots in the Air Force was being drummed out for adultery, so there was a great deal of relevant information on the news: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kelly_Flinn
My second contemporary, “When a Man Loves a Woman,” in the initial stages was merely the story of two doctors. Turns out, doctors need a specialty. So I – what else? – read a book. Several books. And I learned several fascinating things.
Namely that children are not small adults.
But that not everyone in the medical profession seems to be aware of that.
My characters, Dr. James Elliot and Dr. Deborah Brody (best-friends since medical school and probably in love, too, but Deb was kind of already married when they met – oops) are a pediatric trauma surgeon and a pediatric neurosurgeon, respectively.
And it was through them that I learned such things as that not only do pediatric patients require custom-built, smaller medical equipment, but that procedures that work perfectly well on adults might have the opposite effect on children.
One example that really sticks out in my mind is that an adult patient suffering from heavy bleeding can have his/her spleen removed, and go home none the worse for wear. A child can undergo the same procedure and also go home seemingly perfectly healthy. Only to die from a cold down the road because their immune system has been completely compromised.
The most important thing I learned courtesy of Drs. Elliot and Brody was, when faced with taking your child to an emergency room, you should do your best to make sure that the hospital has a pediatric emergency room. Both for the specialized equipment and for staff that knows about the spleen issue… and a million others.
It’s a lesson that came in handy with my own child last year. In NYC, we are fortunate in that we have quite a few hospitals to choose from. So when it came time to decide which one to go to, I did have a moment of freezing.
And then I remembered “When a Man Loves a Woman.” Choice made! (Another reason to go to a pediatric emergency room: The experienced nurse on duty took one look at my son and, before any x-Rays were so much as ordered said, “His arm’s broken.” It was.)
“When a Man Loves a Woman” was released by AVON in 2000 as a paperback. This September 2011, I am re-releasing it as an enhanced e-book.
What’s an enhanced e-book? It’s a book that offers the same text as the original in electronic form… plus a little bit extra. In this case, it’s a soundtrack of songs to compliment the story.