Informed Consent is a fast-paced medical thriller with an intriguing plot. While the CBA has embraced legal thrillers as much as the ABA, I haven’t seen nearly as many medical thrillers, though they are as equally as popular. So I was happy to see Sandra filling that slot.
And now, here’s an interview with Sandra.
What’s Informed Consent about?
Jeremy Cramer, the next Einstein of research, is a medical resident specializing in infectious diseases. While working on a way to revive water submersion victims, he makes surprising discoveries, while also living with massive guilt over incidental infections that occur (which he could have prevented). Even as his marriage teeters, his career continues to skyrocket. Then, with a few twists along the way, he finds everything he has fought for threatened by the most personal, most heart-wrenching, choices of all.
I love exploring bioethics, and this book allowed me to consider end-of-life issues, patient rights, a compassionate response to HIV-AIDS lots of edutainment.
How did you come up with this story? Was there a specific ‘what if’ moment?
The story had a thousand or more what if moments. I’m pursuing a PhD in Aesthetic Studies, and I worked on the setting, characters, a lot of the plot, as well as my narrative voice during three novel-writing classes taught by a novelist who writes fiction reviews for Publishers Weekly. And I got some great feedback from fellow students who don’t believe in Christ about ways to address faith issues more naturally. I also took a Dante class, which influenced my choice to give my characters five of the seven deadly sins. (I’m saving the other two for a future work.)
But the elements in the plot designed to keep readers up at night came through a brainstorming session with medical doctor, William Cutrer, with whom I’ve coauthored three medical novels.
What is the most difficult part of writing for you or was when you first started on your writing journey?
I still struggle with expressing character emotion. I feel like I’ll insult the reader if I stop to say the shock of the news hit like a two-by-four in the back of the head. I figure if I tell the horrible circumstance, the reader has enough imagination to feel what any normal soul would feel. I want to say simply His dad died in a plane crash, and let the reader fill in the emotional blanks. Yet everybody experiences shock and grief differently. For some the room spins. For others it shrinks. For some it grabs in the pit of the stomach. Or it feels like a physical jolt. It’s part of my job as a developer of character to choose how this character will react and respond. When the emotions get intense, I need to slow down and let the reader enter the characters head. But Id rather get on with the plot.
Take us through your process of writing a novel briefly from conception to revision.
Once I have a germ idea, I come up with the beginning, middle, and end. Then I figure out the in-between points. Next, I create the main characters. I have four pages of questions I answer for each. About thirty percent of novel-crafting for me is the pre-writing imaginative work on the plot and character sketches. Then I choose a setting. I ask myself how I can use setting to communicate something. Where was Jezebel when she stole the vineyard? In Jezreel. Where was she years later when dogs ate her? Jezreel. The setting tells more than a place. It says something about the character of God. So I try to choose a setting that communicates on a deeper level. All the time Im making these choices, I deliberate about the best way to tell the story. First-person? Third-person? Who will be the main POV character? Why?
After that I craft a proposal. It starts with a one-paragraph synopsis. While my agent shops it around, I develop the summary into a chapter-by-chapter outline. And then I make a file for each chapter and start dumping in ideas.
When my agent has some success, he calls. Here’s what happens from there
Editorial person really likes it
He or she takes it to the marketing meeting
I wait forever for that meeting to happen
Marketing approves it
I wait for them to agree on an offer
They issue an offer
I reel from the shock of how low it is
I wait for them to draw up the contract
I receive and sign the contract
I write the book
I send the book to the publisher.
They send the first half of the advance
I spend it all in one place
I wait for them to edit it
I wait a while longer for them to edit it
They send back the manuscript with lots of changes needed immediately
I edit it again
They send a galley proof, which they need back immediately
I edit it yet again
I watch helplessly as the release date gets delayed–again
I wait forever for my progeny to arrive in the mail
Finally, I hold my masterpiece in my hands
I find a typo
What made you decide to write a book that deals with AIDS?
The church in Africa is doing a fantastic job dealing with HIV-AIDS. The North American church not so much. So I wanted to tackle some of our misconceptions, challenge some of our stereotypes, and hopefully help readers consider their own involvement with AIDS patients.
Chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. Chocolate gets better with age (mine). (So does Advil, but its not a dessert.)
Sandra Glahn, ThM, teaches in the media arts program at Dallas Theological Seminary, where she edits the award-winning magazine Kindred Spirit. The author of six books and co-author of seven others, she is pursuing a PhD in Aesthetic Studies (Arts and Humanities) at the University of Texas at Dallas . She recently released her first solo medical suspense novel, Informed Consent (Cook). She is the co-author of three other such novels, which include the Christy Award finalist, Lethal Harvest.