It came to me while I was editing out the swearing. Patients swear a lot in the emergency room. I swear under severe pressure, like when they’re dying on me. And it occurred to me that I didn’t want to bleep out the curses for this book.
I wanted to write about the underside of the ER. No more cute, no more hee hee, no more family-friendly rating. Well, I still have my family, and I always try to laugh. (“I like that doctor. She smiles!” announced one patient.) But more gritty and realistic this time. More blood and barf. Medical noir, to coin a term.
So Broken Bones is about breaking bones. And bleeding brains. And broken people, really. Maybe including myself. I still think it’s sort of funny, but often, I laugh and no one else does.
P.S. I’m back from my secret deal! I got to hang out with beautiful people and try zip lining 14 stories high at the CNE. I will spill every bean on September 5th. Pinky swear.
First up, props to Rob Brunet. I first got to know him because a contact at Ellery Queen mentioned he’d sold a story to the magazine, so I Tweeted a hi and congratulations, and Rob was like, “Uh, hi. So…who are you and how did you know that?” Only much more polite, because Rob and I are Canadian, yo.
Rob, a.k.a. Canada’s Carl Hiassen, will launch his debut novel, Stinking Rich, in September. Meanwhile, he’s beavering away at the sequel, Ka-boom, “a story about a bible camp gone bad.” Love it. Read more about him and his process here.
Rob tagged me in What I’m Working On, a writing blog tour where we each answer four questions:
What am I working on?
I’m mostly wearing my mystery hat right now. I was invited to submit to two anthologies, Jewish Noir and Montreal Noir, so I just finished two Hope Sze medical mystery stories for them. And I’m 12,000 words into Stockholm Syndrome, the fourth Hope Sze book, but first, I want to finish editing a fun cozy mystery, The Goa Yoga School of Slayers.
Early cover which will need fixing. Feel free to critique.
Non-fiction-wise, I should polish the next collection of Unfeeling Doctor medical humour essays, Breaking Bones.
We just finished editing the audiobook for The Most Unfeeling Doctor in the World, which I hope to distribute on ACX. And I just started doing walkcasts (walking podcasts), thanks to Michael La Ronn. So. Bref (as the French would say), I’m juggling a few different balls in the air.
How does my work differ from others in the same genre?
I’m such an oddball, I don’t worry about sounding the same as everyone else. But I like to make jokes, and I’ve been told I’m very direct, maybe not at the same time. For example, when I wrote about a patient giving birth and passing stool, my editor commented, “Is this necessary?” I was just like, “It happens.” I call ’em as I see ’em, which is part of the reason not everyone gets my writing. But when they do, heaven.
Why do I write what I do?
For fun. Or profit. Or both. If I’ve had a bad ER shift, it helps to write about it, even if I never publish it. Fantasy, science fiction, children’s books, and YA are even more of an escape. Mystery means delving into the worst of human nature, but also seeking justice. And who doesn’t need a little more romance in life? So I just kind of spin from one thing to the other, which amuses my hummingbird brain, but does add to the chaos.
How does my writing process work?
My rule of thumb is that I do 500 words a day if I’m working in the emerg, 1000 words a day if I’m not working. Small but consistent goals. I like to wake up and write right away, before working in the ER and/or before my kids wake up. Then I can relax because I feel like I’ve done my homework. Otherwise, it weighs on me. My kids are like, “Mommy, I’m a train,” and I’m like, “I haven’t even broken 200 yet! Go play by yourselves!” But if I’ve done my words, I’ll say, “Choo choo.” I do try and get one day a week to myself to write and do yoga, which means that I rely heavily on our babysitter, Aly.