Monday, February 19, 2007

A Writer’s Inspiration – subtitle – John Lescroart Rocks

At some point in every writer’s career, they’re asked from whom they drew their inspiration, their writing style. I’ve seen many hum and haw for an answer. Mine’s a snap. John Lescroart rocks my literary world.

Ever since John hit the bookstores, I’ve been right there snapping up every book he cranked out. I’ve lost count of how many he’s written, and who cares? It all comes down to the fact that I’m a loyal fan.

When I began my own writing career I thought about what elements go into making a fan. It’s impossible to answer because reader tastes and criteria are too vast to put it into a nice package with a pretty bow.

For me, however, it’s all about the story and characters. I love lawyer books; Grisham, Tanenbaum, Martini, etc. After reading a bucket load of these books, the stories can sometimes run into each other. Their only saving grace is their character development, and Lescroart takes this to a higher art form. It’s a given that his plots are intriguing and sophisticated, but it’s his characters that keep the story alive. It’s what keep his books fresh, too.

I’ve seen many authors whose series begin to flatten out, as if they’ve tired of the game and their characters. Lescroart allows his main characters Dismas and Abe to mature, to grow, to evolve. This is a very shrewd move because the reader remembers those two characters long after they’ve finished the book. If you’ve read as many of John’s books as I have, you tend to even forget the plot. But it’s his characters that keep you coming back for more. Of course I care about the story, but I also care about whether Dismas will ever spend a little more time working on his marriage and making sure The Beck grows up to be unafraid about life. This is what stays with me long after I’ve finished one of John’s books. And this equals the loyal fan.

Even though we write in completely different genres, I’d analyzed what made me love John’s books and mapped out my own characters to have that same sort of appeal along with an intriguing plot. We oftentimes don’t know whether we’ve hit or missed with our intentions. But a while back I was having a discussion with our distributor and their lead sales rep who had just finished reading my book. Here’s how it went down:

Rep: I read your book. Twice.

Me: Wow, pretty impressive considering it’s over 400 pages

Rep: I know. A 400 page book is usually enough to make me cross eyed, but this read extremely fast. It’s because of how you weave your plot with your character development. You have great dialog and your characters are so three dimensional that they come to life.

Me (extremely flattered): I’m blushing here. Please don’t let me stop you from further gushing.

Rep: Your dialog is a huge asset and is very reminiscent to John Lescroart.

Me (fainting): You – you’ve just compared me to John Lescroart? Excuse me while I die a happy and fulfilled woman.

It just doesn’t get better than that. Well, okay, perhaps if I sold as well as he does. John, wherever you are, just know that we dialogers have to stick together.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Is There A Medblog In the House?

I’ve done it. I’ve considered attending a 12-step program for it, but one doesn’t exist. I can’t deny it any longer.

I’m a medblog addict.
Say it slowly.


Somehow seeing it on a cyber page makes it all the more real – and insane. What is a medblog? Oh dear, they’re these wonderful blogs hosted by docs of all backgrounds.

It’s really all the fault of Miss Snark, a NY literary agent owning a most delicious sense of humor. She posted about a doc who was holding a FOAD Letter Writing Contest.

What’s a FOAD Letter? It’s a letter where you tell the recipient to Fuck Off And Die so nicely that they never see it coming. Given my day job, I could hardly resist racing to the link provided. Turns out this clever contest holder is a doc who has the ability to make me laugh so hard tears run down my cheeks. Dinosaur Musings, you are a bright spot in my busy life, and your FOAD contest had me on the floor.

There’s Finger and Tubes in Every Orifice whose Emergency Room stories have made me laugh so loudly I awakened my dog. Charity Doc has also brought me to tears with his sensitive portrayal of humanity at its best and worst.

Surgeonsblog is one of my all time favorites because Dr. Schwab is so adept at communicating the compassion and mercy of people who rummage around people’s insides for a living. He can turn a liver into a thing of beauty. I know, sounds disgusting. Read the post, and you’ll feel differently. And while you're at it, buy his book, Cutting Remarks. It's a wonderful blend of humor, pathos, and everything in between.

Addicted to med blogs is another hopeless non-medical addict like me, and I’m grateful to her admission. I think she and I should set up lawn chairs, eat popcorn, drink lots of wine, and watch the stories unfold before us. It’s certain that no one would allow us in an OR.

Why the fascination with medblogs? I blame it on the fact that I write medical fiction. Since I’m not a doc and don’t play one on TV, I rely on those who have been kind enough to share their lives and thoughts with me. It’s their stories, their hearts and souls that go into the portrayal of my characters. It’s not strictly the personal journeys of people who came from the bowels of my imagination, but also the truly amazing personalities who do something truly honorable.

I admire the crap out docs. They cram an infinite amount of information into a finite space and in the process, do some pretty heroic things like diagnosing Cushing’s or hearing the heart murmur in a fetus. That’s why I write about their human side – their vulnerabilities, their prejudices, their beliefs. They’re modern day heroes who are expected to be on call, have all the answers all the time, know twenty-five dollar words that most tongues lack the genetics to pronounce, and be graceful under fire. Am I over romanticizing docs? Probably. But until there’s a 12-Step Program for it, I’m going to enjoy the heck out of myself and do what I do best – write and concede defeat over my willpower. I’m hooked.