Hello world!

Hi! I’m Sammy Greene and this is my blog, but before I tell you about myself in the next entry, I’d like to brag a little and then introduce my creators: Deborah Shlian and Linda Reid .

Bragging first: I am the star of the new thriller, Dead Air , created by these two docs turned authors. The hardback and Kindle version will be out in December. But already, Dead Air has won the 2009 National Best Books Award in the Thriller/Adventure category. Here’s the link to the press release.

Now to the authors. I think this interview of Deborah and Linda introduces them better than I can:

An Interview with Deborah Shlian, M.D., and Linda Reid, M.D., authors of Dead Air.

Linda, I know you were a journalist before going into medicine. How did that come about? And you, Deborah, you have several other novels in print–what has been the process of combining medicine and the written word?

Linda Reid: I began my own neighborhood newspaper at age 10 and continued to write in high school and at the University of Maryland, where I also worked at the campus radio and TV stations. In medical school, I became “The Doc Around the Rock” on radio until I started my clinical training. Then, after my residency, I wrote for the Washington Tribune, the Baltimore Sun, and the Washington Post. I later worked as a medical feature reporter for the CBS-affiliate in D.C., and as a medical editor and host for Lifetime Medical Television. I feel truly blessed to be part of the brotherhood of physician-writers.

Deborah Shlian: My previous earlier novels are co-written with my husband Joel, who is also a physician. We met and were married after a six-week courtship, while we were in medical school at the University of Maryland. Because we wanted to maintain the closeness of our relationship, Joel dropped out of ophthalmology so that we could practice family medicine together.

We did our residencies in Los Angeles, where we eventually joined a group practice and worked in side-by-side offices for almost 10 years. But you can’t live in L.A. for very long without getting bitten by the entertainment bug. Everyone you meet here does something else–your dentist is an agent, your lawyer is a producer, and, of course, every waiter is a would-be actor. Even though Joel and I wrote Double Illusion–originally published by Putnam under the title Nursery–as a novel, we always envisioned our story as a screenplay. The second novel we wrote was Wednesday’s Child, published by Simon and Schuster. Both these books, which are now out in reprints, were optioned for film, although, as is par for the course, the options lapsed. But the stories are written in a very fast-paced, rather cinematic style. Our third novel, just published, is titled Rabbit in the Moon.

In the 10 years between writing Wednesday’s Child and Rabbit in the Moon, Joel and I graduated from UCLA’s Executive MBA program, started a healthcare consulting and recruiting company, and wrote several books and articles on healthcare and medical management issues.

How did you two women meet and decide to write together?

Linda Reid: Debbie and I met at the Student Health Service at UCLA and we discovered that we shared common interests in both creative writing and health education.  I had taken a sabbatical from practice to serve as a staff writer for the TV series Family Medical Center, and, after the series ended, I returned to UCLA and Debbie and I developed several project ideas together. Among the projects we discussed was a medical thriller, which has evolved into Dead Air.

Deborah Shlian: I had just finished writing Rabbit in the Moon and while waiting for it to be published, began to get a little itchy to write another novel.  I was Director of Primary Care for the Student Health Service, and Linda, one of our specialists, approached me about writing something together. We decided on a plot that involved a less-than-ethical experiment on a Vermont university campus. The protagonist is a 20 something college student named Sammy Greene. a journalism student with her own campus  radio talk show. Sammy uses her show as a forum to solve the mystery of why students are suddenly dying and ultimately expose the experiment. The tile of this novel is Dead Air. Linda and I have just completed the second book in what we hope will be a series featuring Sammy. It’s tentative title is Devil Wind and takes place five years later when Sammy has moved to Los Angeles.

Why this book?

Linda Reid: Many of us had friends whose children were leaving for college. Saying good-bye to your son or daughter is difficult, but you hope that his or her college experience will be safe. What if it isn’t, and what if the people responsible are the very ones to whom you entrusted your child? Add a look at cutting edge medicine and modern university politics and you have the seeds of our collaboration.

Deborah Shlian: We felt that in the context of a novel we could expose some of the corners that academic researchers are willing to cut in order to gain fame and fortune.

What was the process of writing a novel together like?

Linda Reid: Very positive. We developed the idea together, plotted out the course of the book and then picked chapters for each of us to write. We worked on our individual computers and electronically shared our files with each other. For consistency, we tried to write in a common voice and similar style.

Deborah Shlian: We developed a pretty extensive outline for the plot and then I started to write the beginning to develop a tone. Linda took those pages and overlaid her own touches so that we had one voice in which to write the rest of the book. Then we assigned chapters or scenes to each other and came together when they were done to see how they fit. Actually, we worked together very smoothly.

Is medicine less ethical than it used to be?

Linda Reid: Economic constraints on physicians lead them to make difficult choices, but, on the whole, most physicians practice a high standard of both medicine and ethics. The potential for larger scale abuse of ethics in medicine and society is there today, however, because of economic pressures and is facilitated by the improvements in science, technology, and communications in our global economy and world that allow a greater use and mis-use of power.

Deborah Shlian: I think there has been some slippage in morality and how people see “crossing over the line”  in society in general. Unfortunately, since doctors are human like everyone else, they, too, may fall prey to the temptations of fame and fortune. The other issue is funding of research. As in our story, Dead Air, more and more research is funded by corporate America. Consequently, at least the possibility of allowing  bottom line pressures to creep into the picture exists. Our character in the book, Dr. Palmer, is a well-known, respected scientist who has always had access to university and/or government research monies. When the university decides to co-venture with a Japanese biotech company, he is suddenly faced with some significant moral and ethical dilemmas.

Did you use any other doctor novels, such as Robin Cook, as a model for your effort?

Linda Reid: I have also been entertained and inspired by many of Michael Crichton’s novels, and have especially enjoyed reading a number of mystery-thrillers penned by physician and attorney authors.  Writers who have influenced me include Crichton, Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, and Hillary Waugh.

Deborah Shlian: Certainly Robin Cook was initially a big influence on me. As a physician, he was able to tell a story that incorporated issues about the healthcare delivery system that might not otherwise have been heard. For instance, in Coma, which I think is a really good example of the medical mystery genre, Cook alerted us to the fact that we need to be vigilant when entering a hospital as a patient. Bad things can happen if no one monitors outcomes properly–and that was in the 1970’s. For a while there I couldn’t wait for the next Robin Cook novel. Now I don’t read them because all the plots run together. The doctor/author whom I really admired was Michael Crichton because he tried to tackle new territory with each book. He was interested in exploring the effects of new technology–such as in Jurassic Park–or new ideas–such as sexual harassment turned on its ear in Disclosure. His forte wasn’t really character development, or even writing, but his story lines were always compelling.

Will you write a book together again? What’s next for each of you?

Linda Reid: We have finished the sequel to “Dead Air” and are currently plotting our third book in the Sammy Greene thriller series. I continue to write essays as a freelancer.  I’ve  sold articles to e.g. Woman’s Day, Salon.com,  and the L.A. Times and have written a science-fiction mystery thriller for imaginative young adults and adults titled, “Where Angels Fear to Tread” as Yolanda Pascal.

Deborah Shlian: Linda and I have talked about working on other books together and if we can coordinate our schedules, I welcome the opportunity. Joel and I have plan to write a sequel to Rabbit in the Moon and we have several ideas for other stand alone medical mystery/thrillers.

Okay- I’m signing off, but I’ll be posting again soon. Meantime, check out my website

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Mr WordPress
    Oct 21, 2009 @ 21:43:18

    Hi, this is a comment.
    To delete a comment, just log in, and view the posts’ comments, there you will have the option to edit or delete them.

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