Writing a novel is a long game. Months, often years. Intense, lonely hours. But if you like it––it’s exhilarating. There is this liberating feeling of creation and accomplishment. And constant study.
I had the stories to tell, but that was not enough. I had to learn the literary language. I had to learn how to put them on the page, applying accepted rules. And I had to tie them to create a logical, interesting and satisfying plot.
My first book ‘Fathers and Sons’ was short and simple. The plot interesting but not complicated. Jack Murano’s life didn’t change much. And all this was pointed to me.
Now, writing a third novel, I feel like a sculptor. Having chosen my block of wood, I designed my general outline. This gave my work beginning-the base, middle-the general part of the story, and the end, which will close and crown the book. Then will come a work to create and mesh-in of subplots, twists and surprises. I want to add some deeper thoughts about family life, falls and redemption, and a few ethical and philosophical dilemmas. All that braided with the medical details, just to let my reader know that the author spent his lifetime on the operating table and in the process had learned something. Ambitious, nonetheless gratifying undertaking.
I make every effort to use simple, easily communicative language. I carefully avoid complicated, esoteric expressions. All this looks pretentious and phony to me. I try to avoid preaching, but there are certain problems I’m passionate about. Someone asked me why there is no sex in my novels. I purposely don’t include this part of human activity in my writing. So I answered, quoting John Grisham’s answer given when the master was asked the same question.
As you know, my wife is the first reader and critiquer of my works. The best beta reader one can have. She is an English major and obviously well qualified, and, well, she is my wife, too. In one of the novels, I dared to put an intimate sex scene in. She was working in a next room and I gave the manuscript to read. I was waiting for her reaction with trepidation. Then suddenly I heard a burst of laughing, and she came to my room with my manuscript in her hand.
She didn’t have to say anything. I never did it again.
And one more thing. I design most of my book covers. The head of a surgeon is my trademark. I will use it on all my covers, until someone will persuade me of a better way of doing that.