Our life experiences shape who and what we are. There are those moments we cherish and then there are those we can’t jettison quickly enough. The bad bosses, the good times, the dear friends, the memorable vacations and locations have molded me. And those experiences, with a bit of effort, can help to create a novel.
I spent seventeen years in health care administration moving from one job to the next, searching for the perfect fit. Then, one day in 1992, after lunch and while walking and talking with a physician colleague, I realized that I detested my career path that there was little likelihood that I would ever find the perfect job for me in that field.
Shortly afterwards I submitted my resignation and spent the ensuing year figuring out what my next step would be. The following year was hugely important and informative. For as long as I can remember I had clung to the fantasy of starting or buying a business. I spent most of that year doing research and investigating possibilities. By the end of that period I had learned two life altering lessons. First, I was risk averse and didn’t have the ambition to overcome that. Second, perhaps the only thing worse than being stuck in a job or career you hate is owning a business that leaves you feeling trapped. It was time to get back in the job market.
Fortune smiled on me the following June. While looking through a copy of the Wall Street Journal’s National Business Weekly I came across an ad that could have been written with me in mind. It was at an independent high school in the San Francisco Bay Area. I was luck enough to be selected and spent the next sixteen years working in a beautiful setting, surrounded my incredible colleagues and doing work that I enjoyed and felt was meaningful. I retired in 2009.
While at the school the kernel of the idea for my first mystery – “Death in a Fair Place” – began to germinate. Retirement gave me the leisure to write. It took a while for me to figure out the structure of the novel and its “voice”, but, finally, in 2012 it went live on Amazon. What a rush.
My second book in the series – “Dread in a Fair Place” – seemed to write itself and was published in 2013. [Author’s note – I know I shouldn’t admit to having a favorite, but I think that “Dread” is my favorite, partly because it was such an easy delivery.] Both “Death” and “Dread” take place in an independent high school in Marin County.
Book three – “Deceit in a Fair Place” – shifts the setting to the local teaching hospital. That provided me with a fun way for me to revisit that period of my life, but at a safe distance!
My protagonist is Bill Felkin, a detective with the fictional Marin County Police Department. He is handsome, heartbreaking and gay. It has been fun for me to see how Bill has evolved over the three novels into a more complex, caring and compassionate character. And not only Bill; there are other recurring characters who have become my fictional family.
I am thoroughly enjoying writing and have started shaping up a fourth mystery. If you are kind enough to read one of my books I hope that enjoy it as much as I did writing it.