Today I’m visiting with JL Greger, scientist, professor, textbook writer and university administrator. Now, a fiction writer, her work inserts glimpses of scientific breakthroughs and tidbits about universities into her medial mysteries and suspense novels.
Please introduce yourself to my readers.
Hi. Although I no longer teach biology and do research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I still enjoy reading about scientific breakthroughs and putting tidbits of science into my medical mystery/suspense novels. So far, they are Coming Flu (2012), Murder: A New Way to Lose Weight (2013), and one tentatively called Ignore the Pain (hopefully 2013).
When did you begin writing?
I’m always confused by the question: When did you begin writing? Writing of what? In 1973, as I struggled with my dissertation in nutrition, I learned that publish or perish was a reality for me. Thus, I began a career of churning out research articles in nutrition and toxicology. If you want to know the fine points of how your body handles metals, such as aluminum and manganese, I’m your woman.
In the mid-eighties, I recognized that I could reach thousands of students interested in nutrition instead of hundred if I wrote a textbook for non-majors. Actually, I should admit that many students who take a “non-majors nutrition” course aren’t interest in nutrition per se, they’re meeting a requirement to complete a course in the biological sciences. It’s a tough crowd but with a co-author, we produced four editions of Nutrition for Living.
I retired early so I could start writing novels in 2006. There are many differences among writing styles used for research articles, texts, and novels. However, in all three, you’re telling a story and the details are important.
Do you write every day?
I try to spend time writing or editing a novel or short story and publicizing my work, mainly with blogs, every day. Reality is: I’m successful five days out of seven.
Tell us about your latest book.
In Murder: A New Way to Lose Weight, physician Linda Almquist must discover whether an ambitious young “diet doctor” or old-timers with buried secrets have the most to gain from the deaths of two women in a medical school in the Southwest. Otherwise she might be next woman killed.
This book could be considered an insider’s view of a medical school. It’s not what is portrayed in many novels and movies; it’s grittier and funnier.
What other books have you written? What are your new projects?
In Coming Flu, epidemiologist Sara Almquist, Linda’s sister, is trying to stop two killers: the Philippine flu, which is rapidly wiping out everyone in a walled community in New Mexico, and a drug kingpin determined to break out of the quarantined enclave. Coming Flu was published in 2012.
In the third novel of the series, tentatively called Ignore the Pain, Sara will find the wrong people from her past follow her to Bolivia when she accepts a public health assignment there. I hope Oak Tree Press will be publishing it in November of this year. And yes I have visited Bolivia.
I’m still waiting for it.
Do you belong to any writing groups?
I’m a member of Croak and Dagger, the Albuquerque chapter of Sisters in Crime, and Southwest Writers.
Are you working on any new projects?
I plan to send Sara to more exotic locations with medical or epidemiological problems (i.e. Cuba, Thailand, Jordan and Lebanon) in future books in my medical mystery series. I’ve already traveled in Lebanon and Thailand and have booked a trip to Cuba.
Then there are other pet projects. I’ve extensively rewritten and renamed for the third time my first novel. Maybe, this one set in New England will see the light of day in 2014. I also dabble in short stories about my childhood on a farm in the Midwest in the fifties. My short story “Shoes” was published in the Oak Tree Press anthology Felons, Flames, and Ambulance Rides and won second place as a short story in the 2013 PSWA (Public Safety Writers Association) competition.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I included my Japanese Chin Bug in all three of my novels. He’s a great pet therapy dog, but he has a mind of his own, as the picture shows.
Link to sale of Murder: A New Way to Lose Weight: http://www.amazon.com/Murder-New-Lose-Weight-ebook/dp/B00DFCC3IM/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1372715439&sr=1-1&keywords=Murder%3A+A+New+Way+to+Lose+Weight
Link to website: www.jlgreger.com