Where did the inspiration for Bad Blood come from?
One day during my long commute, the idea just popped into my head: what if a dead body was found and it was still bleeding after it died? Over the next six months, that and other ideas kept percolating, so I finally said to myself, “Well, I better start writing these down.” As a hematologist who deals specifically with coagulation and bleeding disorders, I thought that would make an interesting premise for a fictional story.
Did you draw on any of your own experiences when writing the novel?
At its core, Bad Blood is a medical mystery, but it also touches on social injustice pertaining to health insurance and health-care delivery. I think many of us in medicine are trying to solve the real-life mystery of patients’ disease every day, so I definitely drew upon my own experiences there. And the two main characters are pediatric hematologists interested in coagulation disorders – which is, obviously, very similar to my own interests – but the characters are more an amalgamation of people I have known.
A dead body that is bleeding – would you classify this a science fiction or within the realm of possibility?
I treat many patients with bleeding disorders, but no, I’ve never seen a patient who was still bleeding after death. I suppose it could happen and I tried to provide an explanation for how it could possibly happen. The story is definitely not science fiction though as I have made the story a reality-based mystery, I’d be interested to hear what people think of the explanation I provided.
Was writing a hobby before this?
Well, when I was in the seventh grade, we were supposed to write a short story – “short” meaning three or so pages. I, however, ended up writing 40 pages. I guess I just always liked writing.
Of course, in my professional life I do a lot of scientific writing – grants, articles, etc. – and working on the novel was a nice break from scientific writing. Literary writing drew on a different set of skills, but there’s no question that the scientific writing helped me to become a better writer in general.
When you pictured your career in hematology, did you ever think it would lead to writing a novel?
Writing a novel was not in my career plan, that’s for sure. When I revealed it to my team at the hospital, their jaws all dropped. Mostly, they were surprised that I found the time to write it!
When did you find the time to write?
I think one of the most remarkable aspects is the fact that over 95% of the book was written aboard an airplane. I travel a fair bit for work and flying is one of the few situations when I have lots of undisturbed time. I would write in short spurts, then not touch the manuscript for weeks; it’s not the most efficient way to write, I’ll admit, but with a day job and a family, this was really the only time I had several uninterrupted hours to write. After writing the book over the course of a year – I actually started on a plane flight to our yearly vacation and finished it on the flight back the following year – I spent another year editing it.