My Guest this week is a seasoned writer giving birth to a new series this month. She's here today, however, to delve deeply into the underlying mystery behind almost every author. Intrigued? Read on... Ladies and Gentlemen...
Hidden Meanings for Authors:
Why I Write
People often ask me why I write, so I tell them I like to drink coffee, make up stuff and write it down. Then they then ask me why I write what I write, so I respond that most of my novels are developed from my many life experiences. Their next question is whether I have nightmares (I don’t) from writing the thrillers I publish, or whether I’m ever scared (I’m not) of my characters. Finally they ask what exactly keeps me writing.
After four years as a full time author, I find myself asking the same question: What keeps me writing? It’s hard, laborious, time-consuming and frustrating. I certainly don’t write for the money it brings in, and I don’t write because it brings me great fame or celebrity status (I still grab my own bags from the luggage carousel at the airport - my definition of celebrity status).
Writers write for a variety of reasons. Some write for the excitement, because it heightens their senses and makes them feel alive. I plead guilty, as I live vicariously through my characters and never feel more alive than when I’m writing or plotting diabolical scenes or building tension in my books. Paradoxical and a bit macabre, isn’t it?
Others write because it’s cathartic and liberating. Guilty again! The murder of a hospital patient I wrote about in the psycho-thriller The Imposter, actually happened on my watch as an administrator. Finally, after completing the book, I was able to view the murder from the outside looking in.
Sometimes when I write, my characters encounter difficult times and situations, and I can look at their experiences and make decisions about my own life. Getting advice from my characters - do I sound committable yet?
Writers often express their values, morals, ethics, and dreams in their writing. Writing allows me the opportunity to create a world as I would like it to be. Architects design buildings, but writers design whole worlds and civilizations, creating those worlds in their preferred image. Writing lets me control my characters (this is cool because I certainly can’t control the ‘characters’ in my life), educate my readers, and advocate for others while entertaining them in the process.
Many of the situations and scenes in the Alex Destephano medical thriller series are based on true life situations I’ve encountered in my years as a clinician, professor and administrator. Currently, I see fewer patients and have less time for teaching, but I still have a lot to say. I use my books as a platform or springboard to present readers with new situations and information they may encounter in life.
For instance, in Chaos at Crescent City Medical Center, I incorporated some of the changes that would arise due to the Affordable Care Act. In a fictionalized but true-to-life Obamacare health environment, the characters dealt with cost constraints, shortages, decreased care and significant changes in quality, and my protagonist advocated for the needs of physicians, nurses and the safety of patients.
In The Imposter, I present the unsafe, global health environment for psychiatric patients and staff and discuss how the rights of the mentally challenged are ignored, compromised, and negated. In the US, hospital chains are eager to build Orthopedic and Cancer Centers and Heart Pavilions, or any type of specialty patient area that is associated with high reimbursement by insurance companies. I’ve not seen many new psychiatric facilities built or marketed in recent years other than private pay ‘Memory Care Centers’ for the increasing dementia population that costs upwards of $5,000 per month. The Imposter keynotes unsafe practice issues in psychiatric hospitals and institutions for both patients and staff. Now we admit a newly diagnosed psychotic patient or a suicidal individual to an inpatient facility and discharge them a few days later on medications that may or may not work. Medications with many unsafe and undocumented side effects.
In Viral Intent: Terror in New Orleans, a political-medical thriller, the same characters, Alex, Jack, Robert and Monique grapple with the uncertainties of life, and realize how the heinous work of a few can affect the lives of thousands, perhaps millions, forever. I discuss the importance of government agencies, including the CDC, FBI, and Secret Service, working together to safeguard the welfare and health of Americans and the world.
Also of interest in Viral Intent is the questionable ethical and convoluted history of the Salk-Sabin Polio vaccine administered to Americans in the 1950s. I discuss the vaccine’s relationship to spiraling tissue cancers and the failure of the American government to inform the public about the virus and its association with organized crime in New Orleans. Nurse-lawyer protagonist Alex Destephano, NOPD Commander Jack Francoise, and psychiatrist Dr. Monique Desmonde bring these polarized and ethically-charged issues to life.
Finally, in Toxic New Year: The Day that Wouldn’t End, the reader is confronted with the complexity of character Jacob Stark, a former CIA operative who cooperated with terrorists and co-authored a massive plot against Alex’s grandfather, Congressman Adam Patrick Lee, at his Virginia estate. Jacob Stark’s treason and ethics are clearly wrong, but as the book progresses, readers report liking Jacob Stark, and understanding and forgiving what he’d done. Stark’s character truly represents a portrait of moral ambiguity.
In my new series, Irish-born Michaela (Mic) McPherson, a retired Richmond homicide detective and pub owner, works with her retired police dog, Angel, and close friend, 82 year-old Countess Dottie Borghase, to solve crimes and punish offenders.
In the first book, The Case of Dr. Dude, nefarious characters abduct and kidnap to profit from human trafficking. The book presents the crime of human trafficking in an effort to draw the reader’s attention to this horrific, global crime that affects all genders, races, and socio-economic levels - the poorest poor to the richest rich. I knew little of human trafficking before I began my research for Dr. Dude, but what I learned has impacted my life forever.
Through my character Dottie Borghase, an aging Italian Countess, I hope to teach my readers to appreciate, support, and value elders as national treasures in all cultures. Retired police dog Angel shows my love for canines and the amazing heroics performed daily by military and police working dogs across the world often incredible unsung heroes.
These dogs put their lives on the line daily, and are treated as equal partners in combat. These canines have saved thousands of lives at home and abroad. Dogs have an acute sense of smell five to ten times stronger than that of a human. Working dogs are able to detect minute traces of explosives or drugs and alert their handlers of their presence. Few people realize the amazing abilities of these canines.
Well… I guess I write for all the reasons above. I write because I love to, and I value the opportunity to talk about and advocate for people who make a difference in our complex world.
Dr. Judith Lucci is an Amazon bestselling author who writes what she knows. She is the author of the Alex Destephano Medical Thriller Series and the soon to be released Michaela McPherson, Private Eye, a series centered on a retired homicide detective from Richmond, Virginia who really can’t retire.
“Before I wrote fiction, I was an academic writer who published research, theoretical works, text books and just about anything a clinician or college professor needed to publish to survive in the ivory tower. The differences in academic writing and writing fiction are dramatic. Writing what I know propels me to pull from my clinical experiences, some good, some not and use popular fiction as a means to teach and advocate for others. My books have three purposes, to engage the reader, to entertain them and to educate about healthcare and perhaps, the darker side of hospital life.
"I am a nurse and hold graduate and doctoral degrees from Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Virginia. I have always been a reader and a writer and I love it. I am a member of the Virginia Writers Club, The Gulf Coast Writers Association, The Shenandoah Valley Writers and Sisters in Crime.
"When I’m not writing I’m probably teaching, painting on silk, canvas or watercolor. I am a multi-media artist with five dogs.
Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am excited about meeting you!"
Thank you once again, Judith, for gracing this blog with your southern charm and allowing us a peek behind the curtain at the motives that drive your thriller writing. I've already had the pleasure of reading an advanced copy of The Case of Dr. Dude and it's characters are superb and its story one to chill your hearts; don't miss it!