I don’t remember the exact moment I knew I wanted to be a nurse, but I was probably around 16 years old. In saying that, nursing was in my blood and I think I was actually destined to be a nurse from birth. My favourite aunt is a nurse and her favourite aunt (my great aunt) was also a nurse. However, when it came time to attend University, I chose a Bachelor of Commerce instead of a Bachelor of Nursing. Don't ask.
I lasted six weeks.
I then married my high school sweetheart and in quick succession we had four beautiful children. We planted a church, and for ten years I pastored alongside my husband. Unfortunately pastoral care wasn’t exactly a good ‘fit’ for my personality! I wanted people to hurry up, take my advice and get better. I wanted their hurts fixed. I wanted them to feel good. Kind of like a nurse really! If you're read any of my comments on this blog you'll notice I tend to be rather opinionated and I probably should just start every comment with the words "sorry if I offend."
So in 2006, the year I had all four children in primary school, I made the momentous decision to return to full time study and fulfil my lifelong ambition of becoming a nurse. All it took was one brave decision and I found myself enrolled at the local TAFE.
Fast forward eight years.
One diploma, one degree, one Graduate Year and one Post-graduate Certificate in Critical Care later, I started work in the Emergency Department – a long-held dream.
Then on the last day of January last year I woke with the realisation I was one month into a new season with no idea how I was going to fill my spare time. After so many years of study, I was at a loose end. Not being one to sit down and smell the roses on my days off work (I don't enjoy gardening at all!), I needed a new project.
Just as I knew I was always called to be a nurse, and I have always known that I would one day write a book. For as long as I can remember, writing a novel was something I wanted to do and knew I would do. I just didn’t know how! After jealously watching my friend Meredith Resce write successfully for the past twenty years, I realised it was time to stop wishing I could do the same thing, and just do it! In Meredith's words I just had to start writing. So I did.
The first draft was written some months later and it was terrible. As in really terrible. The end product was a poorly written “Christian romance” where my non-Christian female heroine had a Pentecostal-like salvation experience in the last chapter. It was so preachy I almost gagged myself as I was writing it. Can you imagine the poor readers if the book had ever been published?! I thought I had an evangelistic message to deliver and by heck, I was going to make sure I delivered it, even though I obviously didn’t have the gift of evangelism! Or clearly, of writing good Christian fiction.
So it was back to the manuscript to delete almost half of it, re-write it, tweak it and edit it. Then I prayed a lot, wrote some more and the end result was a very, very different book a few months later. And not a Christian romance after all.
You see, the experts say to "write what you know", so I did. I wrote about the nursing stories I’d experienced first-hand working in the intensive care unit. Many of the scenes in Intensive Care are actual events that have happened to me, and some of the minor characters are my real-life colleagues!
Then I followed the next bit of advice from the experts and I “wrote what I liked to read”, which in my case was romance. Medical romance therefore became an obvious fit. Added to that is my love of our country and it made sense to write about nurses in rural, regional and remote locations within Australia.
However, in my opinion, the experts missed one important element I think is essential for Christian writers: it is also important to write what God is calling us to write. I know personally speaking, as soon as I had all those three elements in place, the words flowed and the story was written.
Although I’ve written a medical romance for the mainstream market, I believe the end result is actually a sweet romance that could sit as easily in the Christian market as it could in the mainstream market. I guess time will tell! While I don’t have any overt Christian elements in my book, as a faith-filled believer my world-views will hopefully shine through in my writing. You might even see the theme of forgiveness that threads its way through the storyline. My non-Christian beta reader certainly picked up on it and commented.
Intensive Care touches on issues of infidelity, grief, abortion and loss, and focuses on the need to forgive before you can move on. It has plenty of medical scenarios, plenty of emotional moments and a happy ever after ending without my hero and heroine ending up beneath the bed covers.Intensive Care has been published by Momentum, the digital imprint of Pan MacMillan Australia. It has just been released as an e-book and is available where all e-books are sold. I'm currently half way through writing a follow up to Intensive Care, titled Emergency Response which is a love story between Kate's brother Nathan and Kate's friend Mackenzie - you'll meet them all in Intensive Care.
I've also written another medical rural romance, titled The Peppercorn Lease and this is with publishers at the moment - I'm hoping one of them loves it enough to say 'yes'.
Blurb for Intensive Care:
Escaping to the country was meant to be easy…