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Friday, September 24, 2010


Today’s Book Club Friday guest author is Kat Henry Doran. Over the years Kat has worked as a nurse, malpractice insurance investigator, forensic nurse examiner, and victim advocate, all of which add authenticity to her writing. Kat retired her speculum a few years ago but continues to advocate, quietly, for marginalized populations through Amnesty International and Doctors Without Borders. Today she talks to us about Choosing a Setting. Read more about her at her website and blog. 

Kat is offering a copy of
Out of the Dark to one lucky person who posts a comment to the blog this week. Check back tomorrow to see if you’re the lucky winner. -- AP

Anastasia, I thank you for inviting me to your blog

I am a nurse by first profession; I've been writing for perhaps twenty-five years, published in novel length romance fiction since 2004. For the last ten years of my nursing career, I worked as an investigator for a malpractice insurance carrier. The position required me to travel the length of Upstate New York. One glorious Fall day, while driving through a small Central New York town, I passed a New York State Trooper substation. The  lone car in the parking lot sparked the “what if” process that all writers experience. What if a hot shot  police investigator from the big city is reassigned to a small town in the middle of nowhere? That became Nohmensville, aka No Man's Land, the setting for my first romantic mystery, “Captain Marvelous”.

On another beautiful day in the Fall, I drove Interstate-88 from Binghamton to Albany and discovered the perfect scene of the crime for “Captain Marvelous” where women were murdered, then dumped like pieces of garbage along the interstate which frames the Northern border of the Catskill Mountains. I deliberately created a small, rural town where  social activities center around its festivals, amateur sports, and the local VFW pot luck suppers. I wanted the hero to start out having an elitist big-city attitude who loathes everything about small towns, the unique slow pace, the attitudes and mores, biases and eccentricities.

For my second novel, another romantic mystery, “Try Just Once More”, I chose my favorite vacation spot—Saranac Lake, a town in the Adirondack Mountains of Northern New York, famous for finding cures for tuberculosis prior to the advent of effective meds and spitting distance from Lake Placid and Olympic history. There is such charm here, with many of the cure cottages and cure porches still in existence. I wanted a place for my wounded heroine to run to after she hits bottom, a place that would welcome my wounded hero and give him a home to love.

My third book, “Raising Kane” will be released on September 24th  as part of the anthology, “Out of the Dark”. To enhance the setting, I used my history as a victim advocate when I often took my kids and their friends to Take Back the Night marches, protesting violence against women. I felt the need to introduce the girls to their First Amendment rights as well as the plight of crime victims. The marches were always safe; we always made sure to have a “police presence” along the route. As I planned “Raising Kane”, I had the march evolve into a riot in front of a biker bar. Lots of blood, guts and gore with drunks wielding beer bottles and brick bats. Throw in a few activist nuns and we had ourselves a great party.

Currently I am involved with The Class of '85, an ongoing series for Wild Rose Press. The premise is centered around an invitation to the 25th high school reunion of the class of 1985. To start, we needed to create a small city of about 50,000 with a lot of character, history, and elegant architecture. As so often happens, brilliance strikes when we least expect it. I discovered a small, enclosed neighborhood in the middle of Rochester  complete with stone and brick mansions, cobblestone streets, and tidy, manicured lawns. Ta da! We picked up this neighborhood and dropped it on a bluff overlooking Lake Ontario, Queen of the Great Lakes.
Then we needed to create a framework for the high school as it was in 1985, identify the basics [sports, principal, executive secretary, chief custodian]. After identifying the current infrastructure, including social and legal issues plaguing the community, we let the authors take it from there. They embraced it with open hearts. As of September 18, six stories have been released with more on the horizon.

Thanks for stopping by today, Kat!

Remember, readers, if you’d like a chance at winning a copy of
Out of the Dark, post a comment and don’t forget to check back tomorrow to see if you won. -- AP


Donna L Bolk said...

Raising Kane, I so love this title. And how cool is it that you took your kids to Take Back The Night events. Take care, Donna

Susan said...

People don't realize the range of diverse opportunities for nurses. So often they are belittled by the media and the entertainment industry. But perhaps more books by nurses could help.

Unknown said...

I really love the way you think! I also day dream when I am driving so can relate to how you come up with ideas for your books. I am just not talented enough to write a book !! But I love reading them.

J Hali Steele said...

I've always had an idea in my mind of snow and cold at the top of NY--you've given me a much different vision! Love the title, Raising Kane, and I'll have to check it out.

jeff7salter said...

For my second series of novel manuscripts (romantic comedy) I began writing in mid-2009, I created a fictional county in middle Tennessee. It has a fictional city where my stories are set and the plots occasionally involve (real) Nashville (which is about 20 miles west of my pretend town).
After writing a series of three manuscripts set in a real-life city in KY (and using it's actual history), I enjoy the freedom of creating my own writing environment.
Of course, as you know, once you create it, you have to remain true to what you've created. So it's still a challenge.
My other observation / question is about forensics. The TV shows (CSI & its clones) make forensic investigation seem glamorous and incredibly speedy. I'm supposing it's plain ole hard, gritty work ... and tediously slow.

Pauline Alldred said...

As an RN, with an MS in nursing, I'm often appalled by the way nurses are seen as dumb and subservient to doctors. Nurses can pursue a variety of careers and they are trained observers who learn much about human nature in their work. More works by nurses will show that they are no less creative than doctors and have a unique twist on forensics, crime, and death.

Cris Anson said...

It certainly sounds as though you love the area you write about, Kat! I agree that your choice of setting makes a difference in the texture of a book.

Because I fondly remember spending time in the New Jersey Pinelands growing up, I chose it as the setting for my "twin" books from Cerridwen Press, FIRST TO DIE and SECOND BEST. Some of the Pinelands' unique characteristics actually played a part in the plot.

I loved CAPTAIN MARVELOUS and look forward to reading your other books, too. Keep on writing!

Jill McCullough said...

Kat, wow. What a great range of careers you've had! What writer wouldn't like to have that kind of source material? I enjoyed reading about how you come up with ideas for your novels. The WRP Class of '85 series sounds neat. Will you be writing a book for that series as well? You are busy! Good luck and best wishes!

Kari Wainwright said...

I love books where the settings are an integral part of the story.

gkwainwright [at] yahoo [dot] com

kathenrydoran@frontiernet.net said...

Donna and Susan,
I had rotator cuff surgery this morning so if my spelling looks a little wonky or my mind drifts, blame the boatloads of narcotics I'm taking.
I believe in writing strong women characters, both mothers and nurses--and other helping professions. If I see a TV show that minimiZes the role of women or nurses, I never watch it again.
thanks so much for stopping by.

kathenrydoran@frontiernet.net said...

first, thanks for stopping by. You are on the money about forensics in real life vs what we see on TV. This is another reason why I don't watch many medical or criminal-legal dramas on TV. \
The costumes for many of the female characters is beyond belief. You know what I'm talking about!
And the thought that a police officer or anyone related to the investigation would collect sexual assault evidence is a defense attorney's dream and a prosecutor's nightmare!
It's time to get off my soap box and say goodnight.
again, thanks for stopping by

kathenrydoran@frontiernet.net said...

Hi, Pauline
I couldn't agree more--about how nurses are often portrayed on TV--either dumb bunnies or Nurse Ratcheds. I'm dating myself with that one!
Have you read anything by Eileen Dreyer? Her heroines are all nurses by first profession who go on to do related things, like forensic death examiners, victim advocates, and such.
Her books are mysteries and procedurals [I suppose you'd call them] with little romance. She is one of the few authors who make me laugh right out loud.
Thanks so much for stopping by and for offering valued comments.


Kat, thanks so much for being our guest today and for offering a copy of OUT OF THE DARK.

For those of you who posted comments today or any other day this week, be sure to check back tomorrow to find out who the lucky winner is.