An opportunity rolled my way on the wheels of Dr. Christopher Johnson’s momentum, as his third book runs the gauntlet to press next year. I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Chris twice, once for Your Critically Ill Child: Life and Death Choices Parents Must Face, and the again for its follow-up, How To Talk To Your Child’s Doctor. He hosts a website and a blog that’s not to be missed by parents or by anyone with a curiosity for a closer look at modern medicine, doctor-patient relations, and all things current to healthcare in general.
And as if that weren’t sufficient, Chris is kind enough to stop by here today with a piece to explain the joys of not being a one-trick pony:
Cross-Writing, or How a Nonfiction Writer Came To Dabble in Fiction
by Christopher Johnson, MD
I’ve written nonfiction for decades. For twenty or so of them I wrote grant proposals to various agencies to do medical research, book chapters for medical texts, and an unending string of articles for scientific journals. When I finally hung up my lab coat I had over a hundred published notches on my professional curriculum vitae belt. I got good at explaining things. So, when I decided to take a whack at publishing a book, nonfiction was the obvious way for me to go.
A funny thing happened, though, on the way to nonfiction publication — I found that many of the things I needed to explain, to describe accurately, required interesting verbs and arresting modifiers to do it well. So what I was explaining and describing in my first two nonfiction books required me to use a good measure of creativity to do it.
My third book, coming out toward the middle of next year, goes even further down the road of nonfiction cross-dressing as fiction. You could call it fiction-y nonfiction. The book is a description of the inner workings of the body as seen by an observer the size of a blood cell. The whole project is couched in the terms of a play performed on a stage. It’s got cellular heroes and germ villains, as well as more complex cellular characters who are sometimes heroic and sometimes villainous.
From that book it was only a small step to writing actual fiction. My agent is currently shopping around a novel, a medical murder mystery. She hasn’t been able to sell it yet. Perhaps this means I can write fiction, but to sell it I need to pretend it’s not. The bottom line for me is that writing is writing, and there is no reason one cannot be bipartisan, competent at both.