Novelists are cannibals. We devour people and events, chew them up and spit them back as the printed words of our books.
In FIND EDSELL!, I needed a scene in an operating room where the surgeon is performing brain surgery. I read a book on the human brain, then another called How We Die about the physical processes that take place at the moment of death.
Best of all, I had a dear friend who had been the head for a famous brain surgeon at a Chicago hospital. She had watched many brain surgeries and was willing to talk to me about it. I learned that brain surgery is quiet, the instruments are small, the procedures, small and precise. This is not a gal bladder or an appendectomy or C-Section.
Did you know that when you press on a certain part of the brain, an unconscious patient’s right hand will go up? If you press on another part, his foot might twitch. The brain is the center of our body’s universe and the tiniest intrusion has an impact.
The sights and sounds that my friend described were not something I could readily find in a book.
Another friend’s husband, Don, was a former Army Commando and a bow hunter. I patterned my character, Joshua Reed after him. Joshua is a very independent man who lives in the Barrens. He is well-able to take care of himself and even save a few lives in FIND EDSELL!
Through him we learn of the fragile ecology of the Barrens, the balance of nature and man. We learn that hunting and, particularly, bow hunting is not something to be feared or prevented. That judicious hunting may actually help preserve deer populations.
EDSELL’s mother, Lorraine, works in a diner in Toms River. When I was in college I worked in a busy 24-7 diner in Maryland during the summer. I know those sights and sounds well, and in fact, my husband and I often seek out diners when we are travelling. We’ve found some great food at local small eating establishments.
The brain surgery, the bow-hunting, the diner scenes are all real. They were learned from personal experience or the stories of others who once inhabited those worlds.
Like I said, FIND EDSELL! is fact-based fiction: real and thrilling!