The Story of the Prequel, not to be confused with the popular Nyquil

For a little change of pace, I thought I’d tell a story. Probably that’s not much of a change of pace but, let’s give it try.

Lo, many years ago, before there was NaNoWriMo, before there were  thoughts of writing  lesbian fiction, even before my beloved Zeke and Anne; there was a story.

I was attending a medical meeting in Washington, DC, as I did every year. On this particular occasion I enjoyed a presentation by a pediatric otolaryngic allergist. (I know! But isn’t it fun to say?) By the end of the conference, we had become friends and agreed to collaborate on a presentation for the following year. Through that process, we became lifelong friends—in fact, because of her I ended up moving to New Mexico. Another story for another day.

During one visit, and an excellent bottle of French wine, we started talking about the trials and tribulations we had each experienced in our medical careers and that led to a sort of revenge/retribution idea. The story of a surgical resident and a nurse who combined skills to solve a mystery.

The story incubated for months and soon I began to cobble together a few ideas about a plot with a nefarious megalomaniac Physician decapitating homeless people. I started writing out in longhand and eventually shared what I had with my Physician friend. She loved it and thought it would be a good idea if the surgical resident was killed. “what?!” I  completely resisted that idea, after all, how would the nurse solve the crime without her sidekick. Well that was 1990 something.

I tinkered with the story for years, adding scenes, more characters, more subplots until it began to look like a Cecil B DeMille epic. There were at least 20 characters—10 of which I considered major—with at least six secondary storylines. I am here to tell you this is one fascinating story. I asked a couple of friends to read it and I’m very grateful they did. However… they both returned the manuscript with some lovely notes and gentle comments but both bore identical glazed expressions. 128,000 plus words. (poor souls)

A cliff notes version of the as yet to be revised novel “Tattoo: Scenes From a Crime

Super nurse Kate Ramsey (who lives with super cop, James Patrick O’Rourke–the tragic widower) is on duty at a suburban hospital emergency room when Pamela Mason (Chicago District Atty.) shows up with her husband in full cardiac arrest. He survives and the very grateful DA remembers the brilliant nurse and recruits her to work undercover at a Chicago teaching hospital where they believe a serial killer may be working. Coincidentally, another local hospital ER resident, Dr. Shayla Graham becomes good friends with Kate Ramsey until her rotation finishes and she goes back to the Chicago teaching hospital. (Spoiler: they get identical tattoos) The director of nursing, it turns out, is an old nursing school classmate of Kate’s. Helen’s partner, Louise, also works the hospital and is director of education.

Meanwhile, Chicago cops are pulling their hair out because of the string of unsolved murders. Several homeless men have turned up around the city minus their heads and hands. No motives, no violence, no clues. They all seem to have died of heart attacks. Frustrated with their lack of progress they request help from the FBI. Enter special agent extraordinaire, Zeke Cabot. She carefully insinuates herself into the sub community of the disenfranchised, blending and befriending them.

Through a series of convoluted side stories, Zeke,Shayla, Kate, Patrick, Helen, Louise, Dr. Ahmed Hussein and his minions, and the ever intriguing Detective Sween Forkbeard all become acquainted in a race to stop the killing.

Of course, once he’s identified, the skeevy bad guy continues to wreak havoc on our heroes and escapes. For a while.

When the dust settled and I decided to let go of my murder mystery for a while. I longed for the simplicity of a two-character story and out of all of those pages and fascinating characters, the one that haunted me the most was Zeke Cabot.

I began to tell her story and found her a new nurse and now that story is growing. Zeke and Anne have met, bumped heads, bumped other things and developed a passionate attraction for one another. Sadly, Zeke’s past keeps bumping into her and sucking her back into the drama of the case that never closes.

Book two of my Damaged Series will be released in mid march. Book three and four will follow as they are revised to the current storyline. I can’t promise that that’s the end, we’ll just have to see.

At some point I will go back and work on the prequel to this series so that my readers (and thanks to each and every one of you) will understand the whole epic saga. Because now you know how much I love sagas!

and for those who may think I’ve forgotten, No. I have some wonderful guest bloggers lined up and you will be thrilled! I know I am.

14 thoughts on “The Story of the Prequel, not to be confused with the popular Nyquil

  1. Getting a peek behind the scenes into the development of great novel is always a special treat, and one that we writers probably don’t do enough of. I love it when characters take on a life of their own and it sure sounds like Zeke is in the driver’s seat now, Barrett! Can’t wait to see where she takes us all… LM

    1. Hey,Lynette, you’ve got that right. Zeke is at the wheel–most of the time. I’m always glad when Anne jumps in because she’s a lot more willing to ‘share’ information than the recalcitrant special agent, sigh. Zeke isn’t always easy to work with but she’s worth it. 🙂
      Thanks for your kind words and for stopping by.

  2. Well, this explains a lot Barrett. The gritty details in Damaged in Service had their start in a 120,000 monolith. Now, aren’t you glad you went back and culled the best parts to start with. That’s not to say what’s left is not just as good, but you’ve set the bar pretty high and we are all on the edge of our seats waiting to see what happens between Zeke and Ann. Outstanding book, btw. Well done!

    1. Thanks for you note, Isabella. Yes, in hindsight I can feel good about the decision to pluck Zeke and the high points out and give them life. Interestingly, after writing the blog yesterday I was pulled back to the original story. For now I need to move forward to see where these women take me, but I’d like to resurrect the original now that I’ve learned a little something about the craft of “writing”.
      I appreciate your support.

  3. wait a minute….what “brilliant” nurse? …laughing…I spewed Dr.Pepper all over everything and it’s all your fault! And she went “undercover”….oh McBeaners, this was fabulous. thanks for this. this had to be a blast to write.

    1. Thanks, C.P., I’ll send you a screen cleaner. I thought I was quite restrained, I didn’t even mention Lucy the baglady or the Sarah the reporter, or even the skeevy doctors drug addicted minions, or…well, there’s a lot more.Remember Louise? Zeke does….

  4. Thank you, Ms West. That original story is whispering to me. Indeed, there was much gnarly-ness in the story, along with nastiness, evil, manipulative creeps and lovely medical detail. I’ll keep you apprised of the the progress. Thanks for stopping by.

  5. Damn, woman! I want me some prequel! That sounds freakin’ gnarly, and can’t wait until you can get around to it. I always wondered what that reference to Zeke’s doctor friend getting axed (all pun intended) was about…..shiver.

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