Hello, my name is Amy Andrews and I am a Romaholic. I’d like to thank the gals at Romaholics for having me here for a session of therapy aka blogging .
Dolce has asked me if I wouldn’t mind discussing how my job as a nurse affects my writing and do I use my medical knowledge in my books.
Well, the simple answer is yes! I’ve been a nurse for the last 25 years and I’ve loved every single one of them. How could that not spill over into my writing? Of course writing for the HMB Medical line (full of McDreamies and McSteamies so if you haven’t tried one I really, really urge you to!) it’s practically a pre-requisite.
Most of my heroines are nurses and, as such, I can slip into their shoes incredibly easily. I can colour the heroine’s world with deft touches from personal experience. In How To Mend A Broken Heart I was able to bleed emotion all over the page when writing about the tragedy of a drowned toddler because, sadly, I have seen it too often. In Top Notch Surgeon, Pregnant Nurse I was able to depict accurately and sensitively the separation of conjoined twins because I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have looked after two sets and witnessed the highs and lows of their complex care. In A Doctor, A Nurse: A Christmas Baby I could describe the utter desolation and exhaustion a truly terrible, high-adrenaline shift can wreak on the doctors and nurses who work it and how it forms a bond that very few people could understand.
And of course being intimately acquainted with medical terms and procedures, knowing what someone would say or do in any given medical situation, also helps to lend authenticity to my writing.
What’s been interesting, though, is how I’ve used it in my non-medical romances. My nursing background was particularly useful when I was writing Addie in Taming the Tycoon. Addie has survived Leukaemia and not only has it caused her to reassess and take stock and, in a strange twist, propelled her into the path of the Nate, it’s injected a renewed vigour into her life. I’ve known people like Addie, I’ve nursed them. They’ve stared death in the face and won and been determined to live every day to the fullest.
My nursing experience was also handy in a couple of pivotal scenes. The first is where Nate realises how sick Addie had been.
He reached for the milk and shut the door. His gaze fell on the items she had clipped with magnetic flowers to the outside. A couple of receipts, a Thames tide table, some magnetic poetry words, and a photo.
He pulled it off to look more closely. A very pale, very skinny, bald woman stared back at him with dark smudges under her big gray eyes. She had a tube in her nose, her lips were dry and cracked, her shirt had slipped off her bony shoulder, and he could see she had some kind of drip line running in under the skin just below her coat-hanger collar bone.
She wasn’t smiling. She was just looking at the camera as if even breathing took a monumental effort.
His gut felt like someone had shoved a red, hot poker right into the middle of it. “This is you?”
Addie looked up from her chopping. She went very still as she nodded. “It was the day after I came out of intensive care.”
Nathaniel felt ill just looking at it. The woman in the picture was Addie. Not the vibrant, infuriating pain in the butt who stood before him right now, but a ravaged ghost.
He didn’t know what to say. “Jesus, Addie. You look – it’s – why do you keep it?” It was a graphic photo that was almost too painful to look at, and yet she had it in a place of pride on her fridge. His hand shook as he stared at it. What if she got sick again like this? Hadn’t she said she wasn’t in the clear just yet? “Doesn’t it bring back awful memories?”
Addie shrugged. “I keep it so I remember every day how lucky I am. How fragile life is. And every time my parents ring to harangue me about getting a proper job and a proper place to live, or some head-hunter drops by offering me the world on a platter, I look at it and know what’s really important.”
Unfortunately, I’m familiar with the skeletal exhaustion described in this scene. Where even the slightest of movements is physically draining. Where patients are just so damn weary all they want is to shut their eyes and never wake up.
The second scene takes place at the hospital where Addie is waiting to have some blood drawn and Nate, Mr Impatient, walks in and starts throwing his weight around.
He stood and said, “I’ll be back in a moment.”
He felt Addie’s hand on his arm and turned. “Where are you going?” she asked.
“Just going to see if I can’t speed the process up a little.” He pulled away and approached the window.
The woman behind the window looked his mother’s age and not someone who suffered fools gladly. He shot her his best smile.
“Good afternoon,” he said. “My -” God, what did he call her? Lover, bonk buddy, tour guide? “Friend over there has been waiting for over ninety minutes and I’m afraid she’s not going to make the four o’clock cut off. But,” he smiled again as he reached for his wallet. “I was hoping she could slip in next?”
He felt Addie near his shoulder as he removed four fifty pound notes and pushed them across the counter. She gasped and said, “Nathaniel!”
The woman ignored the money as she looked at him, her gaze unwavering, her expression steely. “You want to jump the line? Ahead of the bald kid who’s been waiting just as long as your…friend?”
Nathaniel looked behind him. The kid was the one having the test? Guilt tore at him as the child chose that moment to pull his beanie off to reveal he was as bald as a badger. The same tube he’d seen on Addie’s fridge picture was in his nose. Big black circles colored the huge hollows occupied by the boy’s eyes and he stared straight ahead like a concentration camp victim.
His mother looked gutted—like someone had punched her in the stomach.
I’ve looked into eyes like that. Little kids ravaged by a disease they’re far too young to comprehend. And parents who look like their whole world is collapsing but trying to keep it together for the sake of their child, trying to be positive and upbeat while all the time they’re utterly terrified.
I think my nursing background enabled me to infuse a reality into those scenes that makes them deeply emotional, poignant and gut-wrenching and hopefully leads to a deeper understanding of character. I personally think Taming the Tycoon is much stronger for these scenes.
But maybe that’s just the nurse in me? What do you guys think out there in reader land? Do you want this kind of reality in your romance novels? Is there such a thing as too real?
“Amy is an award-winning author who has written thirty romances for Harlequin Mills and Boon in both the Medical and RIVA/Presents lines. She wrote her first book at the age of twenty-two while unemployed and freezing her butt off in the UK, largely because it involved being able to stay in bed with her electric blanket. One twelve year apprenticeship later she finally got “the call”.
To date she’s sold over a million books and been translated into thirteen different languages. In 2010 she took out the sexy category in the prestigious Australian Romantic Book of the Year Award affectionately known as The Ruby.
She’s recently launched a couple of separate writing ventures with the release of Sister Pact a contemporary women’s fiction novel that she wrote with her sister Ros Baxter and was published by Harper Collins Australia as well as the very exciting release of her first category romance, Taming the Tycoon, with Entangled Publishing.
In what she euphemistically likes to call her spare time, Amy works part time as a paediatric intensive care nurse and was on the national executive for Romance Writers Of Australia for six years during which time she organised two national conferences and undertook a two year term as president.
She’s been married for twenty-two years and has two teenagers who only admit to her being a writer when they have to explain to their friends why there’s no food in the house when their mother is approaching a deadline. She lives on acreage on the outskirts of Brisbane with a gorgeous mountain view but secretly wishes it was the hillsides of Tuscany.”
Amy had these hot little key chains made to celebrate her new book and she giving away one to one lucky winner along with a copy of her book in ebook format
a Rafflecopter giveaway