What Makes a Medical Thriller

As a writer of medical thrillers, I thought this would be an easy task to blog about what makes a medical thriller until I actually began to think of those things that distinct a medical thriller from other types of novels in the same genre (legal, military, etc..)

Here’s what I’ve determined to be essential when labeling a book a medical thriller.

1. It must have one of these three elements:

            a. The leading character(s) is a medical person.
            b. The setting is a hospital, clinic, etc.
            c. There is an inherent medical mystery.
2. There is a moral question: If you look at some of the well-known medical thriller authors like Robin Cook, Michael Palmer, Michael Crichton and Harry Kraus to name a few—at the heart of the book is an ethical dilemma. In Crichton’s Jurassic Park—is genetic engineering wise? Cook’s Acceptable Risk—was a toxin responsible for the behavior of those accused of being witches during the Salem Witch Trials? Kraus’s Stainless Steal Hearts—is experimenting on aborted fetuses ethical?

3. They take a known medical situation and put a twist on it. This is what, perhaps, makes a medical thriller so scary. You can understand the potential for it to happen—particularly when the news highlights stories that you’ve read in a book. Here’s a recent headline that got my writer’s wheels spinning. South Korean officials found pills from China filled with crushed infant remains. At first I thought, surely—this is one of those internet conspiracy theories but I found it referenced in more than one reliable source. What do you think of that? What medical plot could be born from this true life story? I’m keeping mine a secret—for now.

My debut novel, Proof, examines the real life possibility of DNA testing setting a guilty man free. What does the criminal justice system do when the gold standard of criminal prosecution fails? What does the victim do?

4. It is helpful, possibly mandatory, to have a medical background. To pen an authoritative medical manuscript, medical training and having worked in the medical field are paramount to giving the manuscript an authentic feel. Writing from a medical angle is difficult. Interpreting the language, knowing those special nuances, and knowing how these systems work is essential to a good novel. If you’re trying to write a medical thriller and have never been involved in the medical field—I highly suggest you pay a medical type to review your work. Of those well-known medical thriller writers—I couldn’t think of one that didn’t have a medical background. Can you?

What do you think are the essential components of a medical thriller? Can you think of a well-known medical thriller writer that didn’t have a medical background?

This piece originally posted on Nike Chillemi’s Crime Fictionista Blog.

The Tale of Two Book Covers

Today, I’m doing a special post. What’s the point of having your own blog if you can’t do a little shameless self promotion from time to time?

Here is the official cover for my debut novel, Proof, set to release June 1, 2012. It is available for pre-order. You can “like” it on Amazon for me.

Proof deals with the real life possibility of DNA testing setting a guilty criminal free.

Here are some of the early endorsements:

“Jordyn Redwood may be new on the scene, but she writes like a seasoned pro. Proof is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time with well-drawn characters, a villain I despised and a hero and heroine I rooted for. I thought I would just take a peek at the first chapter and finish the story later. I thought wrong. I read late into the night, lost sleep and put off my own writing to finish this book. I’m eagerly awaiting the second book by Jordyn and will be the first in line to purchase it the day it releases.”  Lynette Eason, author of When the Smoke Clears.

“Jordyn Redwood’s debut novel is a page-turning medical thriller with an ingenious premise and solid Christian values.  A satisfying read.”  Frank J. Edwards, author of Final Mercy.

It’s been an amazing journey and there is still a lot to be done. If you want to read more about the author’s process in designing a book cover, you can read my post at the WordServe Water Cooler.

Plus! If you leave a comment here and over there– you’ll be entered for a chance to win my debut novel. Drawing will be midnight, Saturday, April 7th. Winner announced here Sunday, April 8th.

As some of you may or may not know, today is an ever important day. I’ve launched my new website as well! You’ll notice that there is a change and that www.jordynredwood.com does now bring you to the website.

Do not worry– Redwood’s Medical Edge will still be ever present, posting Mon, Wed, Fri to help meet your writing medical needs. The blog address is as follows: http://jordynredwood.blogspot.com/ but you can access it via the website as well. Just look at the top.

There will be lots on the web site as well and I hope you’ll spend some time perusing its features. Topics for writers and readers and a new blog as well. So many new things as I work to build my professional writing life.

For those of you coming over from the WordServe Water Cooler– welcome!