…with Red Shoes for Lab Blues
How did the writer’s journey begin for you?
It began with a glass of wine and my overactive imagination – more on that later J. I always wanted to try my hand (keyboard) at fiction, but other priorities (career, hubby, kiddos) delayed my attempts until the tender age of 38. Thanks to some wonderful critique partners and mentors, my RWA chapter Music City Romance Writers, and giving up T.V., I took the plunge and have found it very rewarding.
You gave up T.V.?? Brave, or desperate of you. LOL
Tell us three things about you-the writer-readers wouldn’t typically know.
1. I have three good luck mascots on my writing desk – all hand painted ceramic and ugly as all get out, but I love them
2. I do my best plotting in the bathtub
3. Those times when I appear to be talking to myself while driving my car? Working on dialogue 🙂
In the tub, huh? I do mine washing dishes and have since I was a teen.
It all began when…
My first story came to me when I was having a glass of wine on my back deck one evening in the late summer of 2009. I looked out into my tree line and wondered what would happen if a ghost suddenly walked out of it and onto the lawn. What started out as short story turned into two and a half novels (several drafts later, of course!) in a series now under submission by my wonderful agent. I’ve been hooked on writing ever since, and am pleased to now be a published author thanks to Lyrical Press and Red Shoes for Lab Blues 🙂
And LPI is thrilled to have you!
Where did you get the premise for this book?
LOL, my own life in the laboratory inspired this story, as did my writing mentors who encouraged me to start with a geek story under the premise of ‘write what you know.’ The setting was pretty straightforward, but the characters? They didn’t come so easily. I came up with the idea of a lab break in and sabotage first. Who would be most devastated by something like that? Well, a work-a-holic who had nothing else going for her but the work, along with a lot of pressure riding on the project’s success – that’s who. Thus, Stacey Jamison was born. Her hero needed to be smart, of course, but he also needed to be a patient man who could draw Stacey out of her shell (and out of the lab). Henry was a perfect match – smart, driven, and intrigued by the gal from the lab next door. Throw in some competing motivations (does he want the girl or her research project?), and there’s the story.
It sounds intriguing. I can’t wait to read it.
What stands out about this story that made writing it different for you?
I really wanted to write an Asian hero. Ever since reading Anne Stuart’s Fire and Ice, featuring smart and sexy hero Hiromasa Shinoda (a.k.a. Reno), I’ve been intrigued. Representing the diversity I enjoy every day in academics was definitely a plus.
There aren’t many Asian heroes out there so that will definitely make Henry stand out.
Were there any difficult challenges or special subject matter you came across while writing this book?
See below – balancing the science bits with the plot. As an academic by day, I tend to be, er, long winded when talking shop. One of my former research assistants asked me once to answer her question ‘in five sentences or less.’ That made me laugh, of course, because it’s totally true. Fortunately, great editors will tell you when to cut, and I’m lucky that mine did!
Yeah–I tend to go on a little too. Sisters separated at birth, you think? LOL
What about this book would make us want to read it more than others of similar taste?
I don’t skimp on details – of course, thanks to editor Ann Marie Smith’s knack for reining me in, the science bits blend with the plot. But I wanted to be as accurate as possible in my portrayal of real biomedical research, academic politics, and the whole work/life balance thing.
I’m sure Ann Marie helped you shave it down and plump it up to be perfectly balanced. LPI editors are awesome that way.
What do you want readers to take away from this book?
Geeks need love, too! Also, cancer researchers (and all disease researchers, actually) really are dedicated and work hard to find new treatments and cures. That’s why I included my colleagues in the dedication. My personal motivation comes from a close cousin who lost her two-year battle with breast cancer, and my mother, a tough-as-nails breast cancer survivor. Both of these courageous women are in the dedication, too.
I’m so sorry to hear about your cousin, but cheers for your mom. 🙂
Tell us about the finished book. Is there anything special we might not know after reading it?
Hmm…something the reader might not know after reading the book…well, this is mostly for people who know me (read: graduate students), but there is one thing in the book based on a real life event. I once nearly burned the lab down when I set a dish of ethanol on fire (like Jake the work study student in Red Shoes J). That’s it, though – don’t go looking for evidence of trysts in darkrooms or conference rooms! I made that up!
LOL That’s special all right!
Dr. Stacey Jamison thinks she’s close to validating PharmEx’s new anti-cancer drug. Her budding independent career, her boss’s tenure, and a ton of research dollars are at stake. She just has to prove Compound Z kills cancer cells.
So far, it doesn’t.
Then along comes Dr. Henry Chan, the department’s new rising star. Henry is smart, handsome, and confident. He’s also captivated by the enigmatic Dr. Jamison, who seems oblivious to her own charms. But will Henry risk his heart when the research project is at stake?
A rival drug company, an insider with a personal grudge, and militant animal rights protestors force everyone’s plans into disarray. Can their love overcome everything being thrown at them?
Excerpt (Henry gets a taste of Stacey’s temper during their first meeting in the laboratory dark room):
It took around ten minutes to prepare her samples and another two for the walk down the corridor. Stacey entered the darkroom and closed the door securely behind her. After setting up her film cassette, timer, and film box, she flipped off the interior light and switched on the red safety light. Though it would take her eyes a few minutes to adjust to the near-darkness, she managed to operate on autopilot. Years of working in this particular darkroom gave her the advantage of knowing the layout by heart and by feel, and her routine made the tasks easy, if not mundane.
It would be nice if Callahan could afford one of the more advanced detection systems. One scan and presto: all done. Plus, the computer did the calculations. High efficiency, and very, very expensive. Cameron loved the one in her laboratory and made certain to let everyone know about it. Not that she’d ever share.
Why is this taking so long?
Stacey had just started wondering how much brain damage she would suffer from prolonged exposure to fixer and developer fumes when she heard the dreaded creak of gears grinding to a halt.
“Shit buckets,” Stacey exclaimed. Another jam. The ancient processor, no doubt surplus from the hospital, acted up at least once every few weeks. Stacey figured the department could afford about three new ones with the money they’d spent on repairs and maintenance.
After taking a couple of deep breaths, and coughing from the fumes, Stacey felt along the side and switched the machine off. She removed the cover and tried to manually turn the drive shaft, but it remained immobile. Jiggling the machine didn’t help, either.
Kicking it made Stacey feel a little better, though, at least until she heard the deep voice behind her.
“Now what did that poor machine do to deserve such fury?”
Stacey squealed with fright, spun around, and slammed right into the owner of the deep voice. Her hands landed on a solid chest as she attempted to steady herself. She tried to back away as strong hands moved up her arms and gripped her shoulders.
“Whoa there. Easy now. I didn’t mean to scare you.”
“Well why are you sneaking around in the darkroom then?” Stacey snapped.
“I figured you heard me come in through the revolving door. Guess you must have been too busy assaulting the film processor.”
“Good evening, Dr. Jamison.”
She heard the amusement in his voice, and her cheeks burned in response.
I am soooooo busted.
Being caught in the middle of a tantrum at work was bad enough. Being caught by one of the hottest men on campus? Beyond embarrassing.
I love that taste, DB! And your cover has been blessed by a talented hand for sure.
Where can readers find you and your books?
Red Shoes for Lab Blues is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes.
Is there anything else you want to share or add?
Just thanks for the wonderful interview! I really enjoyed the questions and had a ball hanging out with you here on the ranch. I also hang out online at my Website, Twitter, Facebook, and Blog – I love company!
Thanks for agreeing to bring you and your lovely book to share with us! I’m sure readers will want to know when your next book comes out, as well. 🙂
I’m here a bit late, but so glad I stopped by. Red Shoes sounds different, and thus interesting and exciting! I wish you much success with it D.B. And really? I love the geek hero – I identify more with them than with the billionaires playboys out there LOL
Thanks for stopping by – I hope being ‘different’ works in my favor, but I’m like you when it comes to geek heroes. Smart=sexy!
Well I’m tickled pink that you popped over from KN FB 🙂 Glad to be a part of that community, and I’m eternally grateful to the conference coordinators for bringing in Aponte Literary. I owe Beth Terrell and Clay Staford my agent 🙂 Oh, long-winded is a relative-term, since my sweet spot for the ‘long’ works is about 75K. Maybe someday I’ll hit the 80-90K mark…
But hey, we’ll get there, right?
I was literally jumping up and down when I saw that cover. Lyrical Press does great cover art!
Thanks for stopping by!
Popping over from Killer Nashville on FB. Enjoyed your interview and I envy your ‘long-windedness’ because I struggle to ‘grow’ a book. 🙂 Love your cover, too!
I think those writing mascots scare me. What kind of imagination would they inspire? Guess I’m about to find out…I’ve got Red Shoes for Lab Blues downloaded on my Nook. But I’m gonna be reading it with all the lights on. :~)
Thanks for stopping by and for picking up a copy of Red Shoes! I hope you enjoy it – nothing scary, but a little bit of suspense. My mascots are actually quite sweet, I promise 🙂
Thanks for stopping by, M.Q. I don’t always start with an event, but in this case is absolutely helped with the plot and developing characters. Thank goodness for the editors who all us out and keep us focused !
I love the peek at how your process works, D.B. I’m completely fascinated by the idea of starting with an event — the lab break-in — and developing characters who inhabit the world where it happens. I suspect you end up with strong plots that way.
And I completely empathize with the inability to be concise. The Lyrical editors are experts at prodding authors to get to the point already, no? 😉
Loved the interview, D.B. and Calisa! I watch very little TV myself, maybe a handful of hours worth per week, preferring to write or read. I can sooo relate to that! This book is on my TBR list and I’m looking forward to the read, especially meeting Henry. As Calisa noted, there aren’t many Asian heroes out there. Great excerpt!
And, er, um, those writing mascots you keep, D.B. are definitely unique looking, LOL. I’m glad they bring you good luck!
Thanks for stopping by, Mae! Giving up T.V. wasn’t such a big deal, really, since I’m one of those folks still mourning the loss of the X-files. I hope I get to keep my mascots, since my kiddos have some sort of morbid fascination with them and keep trying to steal them off my desk.
Aren’t her writing mascots just the cutest things? LOL Thanks for stopping by, Mare.
Mae…I meant MAE. *slaps forehead*
Thank you so much for hosting me, Calisa!
Lyrical Press editors are wonderful, indeed (my hostess included), and Renee Rocco definitely rocks the cover art! So…confession – I didn’t give up T.V. entirely…I still try to catch The Big Bang Theory and the occasional episode of Bones. Jury’s still out on this season of True Blood for me, but hey – leaves more time for writing!
Thank you for the compliment, DB. *blushes* I enjoy BBT and Bones too, but my passion shows are CSI and NCIS.
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