I feel privileged to be writing the 4th in the Dr. Lindsey McCall medical mystery series, scheduled for release during the fall of 2017. She, Rich Jansen, and the rest of the characters have taught me so much about life, lessons, and faith.
Because I have published a variety of non-fiction articles, book chapters and the like, I am asked frequently to explain the difference between the two. Which is easier?
The writing of a novel is so completely different from a textbook or chapter on specialized knowledge or an article about the methods of solving problems faced by everyone in the field (all the subjects I once tackled) that it’s hard to know where to start to convey just how humongous is the difference.
Mostly, I think, it reduces to fear. At least it has been for me. ‘Sure I can write, I’ve written and published for my entire life’. ‘But’ (that wonderful acronym- behold the underlying truth) ‘can I write a compelling story? And when I do, will it end up revealing things about me that maybe I don’t want made public?’
Not that writing non-fiction is easy. It isn’t. Just that the dream of writing novels felt too big or I was too little-maybe not crazy enough or unhappy enough. So I persuaded myself that I really didn’t want to write that novel, it was merely the dream of the kid English major I had been many years ago. I loved the research that always preceded an article or chapter or the textbook, the high that came with reading, re-writing and reading again, “Yes, this is the best I can do…it’s clear, it’s accurate, its good.”
Until one day back in 2005, on a hike in the mountains behind my house, when a character named Dr. Lindsey McCall appeared in my head and heart and wouldn’t let go. I could see her, literally. And I knew she was a woman who had never questioned her ability to do anything, anything at all. What would that be like, I wondered, having that kind of self-confidence?
Early in the writing of the first book, I decided to use the ‘rule’ for the classical novel: The indifferent narrator, someone through whom we learn about the foibles of the protagonist. What better twenty-first century ‘observer’ than an investigative reporter?
But once the characters are created, they take on a life of their own, I have learned. Kate Townsend refused to stay in the background, she gained flesh, bones and muscle as she sat beside me while I wrote. And she was far from indifferent.
And so it began.
Here is the cover in the 4th book of the Dr. Lindsey McCall medical mystery series: