Writing About What You Know.
Posted by Suzanne Ferrell Jun 28 2013, 12:42 am
Writing About What You Know.
That’s one of the recommendations you get from writing teachers, editors, friends. My first book was an American Historical. Set in my own country’s history, I had a good idea about life back then, but had to research a lot. When I switched over to writing The Surrender of Lacy Morgan, I didn’t really tap into my own experience, but definitely into some fantasies. (TMI? Oh well, now you know.)
So what experience did I use to write the Romantic Suspense books? I’ve never been KIDNAPPED or HUNTED by a hitman.
Setting: Both books take place in my home town of Columbus, Ohio. I know the city and surrounding area well, having lived my first three decades there. And besides, NY Publishers have said more than once, “Don’t set your book in the Midwest. No one wants to read about central Ohio.” Uhm, I do! Lots of interesting things go on there and bad stuff happens everywhere, not just in major metropolitan areas. Heck some of the creepiest serial killers came out of the Midwest. (Dommer is from NE Ohio.)
Heroine: The heroines for both books are nurses, people I know inside and out. Raised by a nurse, taught by nurses and thirty-four years as an Obstetrics nurse gives me insight into what makes good nurses tick—their strengths, their flaws. While I wrote a fairly kick-ass type heroine in Katie Myers from HUNTED, that really isn’t my usual heroine. Someone who thinks clearly and quickly in emergency situations, even if it’s outside her normal comfort zone, that’s my heroine.
Hero: I like them big, confident, slightly arrogant, smart, but not overbearing. Handsome is always good. This is what I like in my fantasy man. I get to spend more time with them than anyone, they should be the kind I like to read about in books or watch on TV. Having a son who had numerous friends hanging out in our house over the years, I’ve also listened to their good-natured banter. I want to show that they use this to show how they come to respect, tease and love each other. My heroes will do whatever it takes to protect the heroine, but understand when she is part of the team and capable of giving as good as she gets, in bed, in conversation, in a battle.
The human experience: Like I said above, working years as a nurse, I’ve dealt with people in their worst moments. Pain, fear, grief all have a way of getting a person down to their core emotions and reactions. I like to think this is where the heart of my romance stories live. Bringing those reactions and emotions to the written page through the plot, setting, characters, I take an everyday heroine and thrust her into a situation that forces her to use all her internal and occasionally external skills to survive and help her hero save the day or each other or both.
So, when it came time to write SEIZED, the novella for the Edgars’ family RS series, I already had a basic blueprint for the book.
Setting: Columbus, of course. This time, however, I took setting one step further. Most of the book takes place in a hospital operating room. My mom was an operating room nurse for many years and regaled us with stories over the years about odd things that happened. In obstetrics, you become quite familiar with your own time spent in the operating room doing cesarean sections or other procedures. It’s a comfort zone for me. There were things I didn’t know, though, in particular the use of the anesthesia machine and medications used by anesthesia. Until I started writing this book, those weren’t things I needed to know.
*Big shout out* Since I needed specialized information, I went to the experts, my friends Colleen, Carole and Keith, three of the best nurse anesthetists I’ve ever worked with. They gave me the ins and outs of the equipment they use, what to do in emergencies and the medications available to my heroine. Love these guys and their enthusiasm for helping me write a book. Oh, and if you’ve ever had a labor epidural or had any kind of anesthesia in L&D, it was more than likely done by a nurse anesthetist, so you should love them as much as I do!
Heroine: Once again, my heroine, Judy Edgars is a nurse. This time she is an operating room nurse. Now these nurses have usually just a few minutes with their patient before they are asleep for the procedure, unless of course the patient is awake for the case for some reason, (new mom having a cesarean section). More often than not, especially in scheduled procedures, things go smoothly except for the occasional arrogant surgeon or new resident who gives her a hard time.
But there are times when those nurses are called on to deal with horrific cases, (i.e. gunshot victims, car accidents, etc.). Massive amounts of blood loss have their own unique complications and then there’s the unknown damage until the docs are in the middle of the case. Here’s where these nurses have to think quickly on their feet and yet stay calm. Y’all would be amazed how these men and women do their jobs!
Hero: Dave Edgars is the oldest brother in the Edgars clan. (Think Jason Statham here.)
He’s been telling people what to do for years. While he is quick to assess a situation and lead by example, he’s patient and understanding. He was a cop when he met Judy and has been on a SWAT team for years. He’s often explained to Judy or his brothers and sister how he’s learned to deal with criminals or crazy people he’s encountered on the job. He’s only ever loved one woman and respects Judy both as his wife and as a nurse.
The human experience: So now, let’s complicate things.
Like I said, Judy is an operating room nurse. She’s seen some horrific things. Imagine her fear when her husband, a SWAT team member, was shot. Now it’s six months later. He’s all healed, but she can’t get over her fear for him every time he walks out the door for work. She decides to show him her anger rather than admit what a coward she is. Dave, her husband is losing his patience with her.
What if we turn the tables?
Let’s put Judy in danger and Dave has to face his fear of losing her. She has to find ways to deal with a crazed gunman. What if the reality of losing each other forces them to remember their love for each other?
So, that’s SEIZED, a roller coaster of emotions and danger. Hope you enjoy it!!
The guys were just settling up the betting and reorganizing the room when Dave’s phone vibrated on the table.
“Oh, man, the woman is psychic. Probably wants to remind us to wrap the leftovers and not to spill any beer on her brand new carpeting,” Luke said.
“Too late. You already did that,” Matt said, shoving their youngest brother sideways.
Dave gave his brothers a warning glare. “Hey, babe,” he said as he held the phone to his ear. “What’s up—?”
“Listen carefully, Lydia” she said, as if talking to someone else.
“Lydia? Did you dial the wrong numb—”
“Dr. Hodges is dead. That’s the gunshot you heard.”
All the men in the room froze. Dave hit the speaker button on his phone and set it on the counter of the bar so they could all hear. Gripping the counter with both hands, he willed the sudden rush of fear to ease its stranglehold around his heart.
“The rest of our team, all four of us are okay and the patient is stable. Mr. Wilkes is in charge and he’s wired a bomb to the doors. If anyone…and he means anyone…tries to come in, all three entrances will blow.”
His knees wobbled when he heard the word bomb. “You’re telling me there’s someone holding you hostage? In the OR?”
A deep voice spoke off in the background, too muffled to make out his words.
“Paul says you have ninety minutes to clear the patients out of the hospital.”
Okay, it’s your turn. 1. What are you bringing to the party? Let’s make it a cookout! 2. If you could write a book about what you know, what would it be? What would you title it?
I’ll be giving away two print copies of SEIZED to readers today!!
Posted in action/adventure, gunman, HUNTED., KIDNAPPED, nurses, Romantic suspense, Suzanne Ferrell