“You’re doctors, why do you write?” my co author Deborah Shlian and I have been asked at our book signings for our mystery thrillers. The implication: Don’t you already have money, status, respect? Unfortunately, in today’s tempestuous healthcare environment, status and respect are no longer a given, and “money” is more likely to flow to healthcare executives than to front-line practicing primary care physicians. Then perhaps we’re inspired by an equally common muse, narcissism? Well, I can’t deny that we have some sprinklings of “Kilroy was here” motivations when we put fingers to keyboard, but our biggest driver to put aside our stethoscopes for our pens is empowerment. In other words, we dig into our black bags for the best tool to help foster needed change.
In the examination room, our patients take off their social masks and relate heartbreaking stories of acute and chronic illness and its emotional and economic devastation. God, alas, didn’t give us an owner’s repair manual for the human body, but, as clinicians, we labor to do the best we can medically and psychologically for those seeking solace, refuge, and cure from pain and suffering. We witness the effects of social injustice, political corruption, and oligarchic inhumanity on our clients on a daily basis. Our ministering may ease the distress of our patients, and the Penicillin we prescribe may cure their infections—but, in the office, we are often powerless to address the societal factors that contribute to their disease and dis-ease. By shining a spotlight on “what’s broke” in our world through our books, we arm ourselves with a more effective instrument to suggest and promote humanitarian and progressive solutions—our pointed, keen-edged words
Swift, Wells, Dumas, Dickens, Hugo, Twain all used enthralling stories to highlight societal issues and engage readers in demanding amends. Modern thriller writers such as physicians Michael Crichton and Robin Cook have worn the mantle of the writer-activist as well. Inspired by our visionary predecessors, we drew on our years of healthcare experience to create our medical mystery-thriller series starring dynamic young advocate Sammy Greene, a five-foot red-haired Yiddish-spouting ball of fire, who brandishes her verbal sword and sharp investigative reporting skills against the windmills of academic corruption and political manipulation.
As university physicians over the past 20 years, we have witnessed the crumbling of the ivory tower, the devolution of academia from bastions of scientific purity to centers of research for commercial profit. The advent of “public-private partnerships” which have intruded into once-unadulterated laboratories and classrooms have imposed corporate agendas and models on our schools and colleges. Our first book in our medical thriller series, “Dead Air”, underscores the dangers of this profit-based “invasion” by a pharmaceutical conglomerate on University health services as well as scientific integrity and standards. A cash-strapped college, compromising its ethics to appease both the corporate sponsors of its educational services, and the religious fundamentalists agitating at its doors, induces not only the fictional homicide of its students and faculty, but the murder of the value and honor of the University itself.
We hope readers will cheer Sammy Greene on as she uses her pen and her radio voice to stir the murky waters of her fictional Ivy League campus and uncover and expose financially and politically motivated corruption at its highest echelons. We also hope that her crusade triggers an understanding in our readers of the risks of welcoming corporate “wolves” into the flocks of academia, and encourages their advocacy for a return to influence-free nationally subsidized higher education and health care for our leaders of the future. We’re grateful to Sammy Greene for carrying our figurative sword in our stead and fighting to make her world--and ours--a better place.
Dead Air, Book 1 in the Sammy Greene thriller series, is published by Oceanview Publishing, and written by Deborah Shlian and Linda Reid (Yolanda Reid Chassiakos)
Yolanda Reid Chassiakos is the co-author of “Dead Air” as Linda Reid, and “Where Angels Fear to Tread, the Zygan Emprise” as Yolanda Pascal.
Deborah Shlian MD, MBA is the co-author of the award winning thriller ”Rabbit in the Moon”, with her husband Joel Shlian, MD, MBA.
About Yolanda (Linda)
Causes Yolanda (Linda) Reid Chassiakos Supports
Special Olympics, Easter Seals, Autism Speaks, NAMI