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Saturday, November 03, 2007

Informed Consent by Sandi Glahn


Meet Sandi: Sandra Glahn, ThM, teaches in the media arts program at Dallas Theological Seminary, where she edits the award-winning magazine Kindred Spirit. The author of six books and co-author of seven others, she is pursuing a PhD in Aesthetic Studies (Arts and Humanities) at the University of Texas at Dallas . She recently released her first solo medical suspense novel, Informed Consent (Cook). She is the co-author of three other such novels, which include the Christy Award finalist, Lethal Harvest.

Can you tell us a little about what Informed Consent is about?

Jeremy Cramer, the next Einstein of research, is a medical resident specializing in infectious diseases. While working on a way to revive water submersion victims, he makes surprising discoveries, while also living with massive guilt over incidental infections that occur (which he could have prevented). Even as his marriage teeters, his career continues to skyrocket. Then, with a few twists along the way, he finds everything he has fought for threatened by the most personal, most heart-wrenching, choices of all.

I love exploring bioethics, and this book allowed me to consider end-of-life issues, patient rights, a compassionate response to HIV-AIDS…lots of edutainment.

Sounds interesting. How did you come up with this story? Was there a specific 'what if' moment?

The story had a thousand or more “what if” moments. I’m pursuing a PhD in Aesthetic Studies, and I worked on the setting, characters, a lot of the plot, as well as my narrative voice during three novel-writing classes taught by a novelist who writes fiction reviews for Publishers Weekly. And I got some great feedback from fellow students who don’t believe in Christ about ways to address faith issues more naturally. I also took a Dante class, which influenced my choice to give my characters five of the seven deadly sins. (I’m saving the other two for a future work.)

But the elements in the plot designed to keep readers up at night came through a brainstorming session with medical doctor, William Cutrer, with whom I’ve coauthored three medical novels.

Take us through your process of writing a novel briefly—from conception to revision.

Once I have a germ idea, I come up with the beginning, middle, and end. Then I figure out the in-between points. Next, I create the main characters. I have four pages of questions I answer for each. About thirty percent of novel-crafting for me is the pre-writing imaginative work on the plot and character sketches. Then I choose a setting. I ask myself how I can use setting to communicate something. Where was Jezebel when she stole the vineyard? In Jezreel. Where was she years later when dogs ate her? Jezreel. The setting tells more than a place. It says something about the character of God. So I try to choose a setting that communicates on a deeper level. All the time I’m making these choices, I deliberate about the best way to tell the story. First-person? Third-person? Who will be the main POV character? Why?After that I craft a proposal. It starts with a one-paragraph synopsis. While my agent shops it around, I develop the summary into a chapter-by-chapter outline. And then I make a file for each chapter and start dumping in ideas.When my agent has some success, he calls.

Here’s what happens from there…Editorial person really likes it
He or she takes it to the marketing meeting
I wait forever for that meeting to happen
Marketing approves it
I wait for them to agree on an offer
They issue an offer
I reel from the shock of how low it is
I negotiate
I wait for them to draw up the contract
I receive and sign the contract
I write the book
I send the book to the publisher.
They send the first half of the advance
I spend it all in one place
I wait for them to edit it
I wait a while longer for them to edit it
They send back the manuscript with lots of changes needed immediately
I edit it again
I wait
And wait
They send a galley proof, which they need back immediately
I edit it yet again
I watch helplessly as the release date gets delayed--again
I wait forever for my progeny to arrive in the mail
Finally, I hold my masterpiece in my hands

I find a typo

Ha, ha...so true, so true! What is your favorite thing about writing?

I love it when the muse flows and I lose myself in the world of my characters. Three hours later I’ll look at the clock and marvel at how time has flown. It’s like going to a good movie and seeing a story you don’t want to end.

Least favorite?

I loathe the page-proof stage, where I get the stack of questions or suggested changes from the publisher. I don’t mind the feedback—it’s always been great. But actually making the changes…talk about tedium.

How did you get started in the writing world?

After I graduated from college, I worked for a 700-employee financial services company where my boss thought I had some writing talent. I got my start twenty years ago working as the editor of employee publications. When the company sold, everybody got laid off. I mourned over leaving a job I loved, but it was the best thing ever for my career. Suddenly I had 700 business contacts all over Dallas.I started a free-lance writing business, and one of my first clients was the music producer for Barney and Friends. Another client was Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS). I edited (and still edit) their magazine, Kindred Spirit. I dabbled in some classes in DTS’s media arts program, and I learned about Joseph Campbell and myth and about Hebrew narrative and Gospel storytelling. I figured if I could tell better stories, I’d write more engaging non-fiction. I had no aspirations ever to write a book, certainly not a novel!

How do you get ideas for stories?

Television, Wired Magazine, headlines, internet, overheard conversations, personal angst. You name it.

Favorite dessert?

Chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. Chocolate gets better with age (mine). (So does Advil, but it’s not a dessert.)
Ha, ha! Thanks Sandra!

You can learn more about Sandra at her blog and websites:
http://aspire2.blogspot.com/
http://www.aspire2.com/index.html

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