Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a cheery, glass half-full person, once accused of being the Mary Poppins of my workplace—not easy in the chaos of a hospital emergency department! But those years taught me that love, laughter, and faith are the best medicines. They also left me with stories to share, pulse-spiking medical drama that invites readers to “scrub in” as part of the team. I love that I’ve been called an “author of hope opera!” Apart from my writing, I’m a native Californian, wife, mother, grandmother—and a passionate foodie, as excited to sprinkle herbs as metaphors.
How did you come up with the concept for Mercy Hospital Series?
It disappointed me that while hugely popular TV shows like Grey’s Anatomy, ER, and House offer adrenalin-pounding action, they rarely address issues of faith. After thirty years as an ER nurse, I know how many prayers are sent heavenward by patients, family members, and by hospital staff, too. I wanted to offer readers well-rounded, realistic glimpses into the world of emergency medicine. And into the hearts and souls behind the stethoscopes, badges, and flak jackets of medical, fire, and law enforcement teams. It is my way of honoring these heroes—while glorifying God.
Do you have a favorite character in Mercy Hospital Series? Why?
I think I identify most closely with Erin Quinn of Disaster Status, the feisty, stubborn ER charge nurse who takes her frustrations out on a punching bag. I love that she has much to learn about the difference between being strong and becoming a woman of strength. That difference is faith. I learned it in a dramatic way when a serious equestrian accident landed me on a gurney in my own trauma room—with a broken neck and spinal injury. I sometimes say that God took drastic measures to get my attention!
How much research did Mercy Hospital Series take?
As an ER nurse, I spent decades immersed medical drama. And I’m blessed to have many friends who are still working in the fields of emergency medicine, fire rescue, and law enforcement. They graciously offer help. Because each Mercy Hospital story involves a disaster scenario, I’ve had to research critical incident stress, hazardous materials, and officer-involved shootings. I also visited the northern California settings: Gold Country, Monterey Bay, and even the famous “Tonga Room” in the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco—tough duty, but someone’s got to do it.
What is the most interesting fact that you learned while researching and writing Mercy Hospital Series?
In Disaster Status, there is a secondary character named Sarge, who is a Gulf War veteran. He suffers from post-traumatic stress and has flashbacks. I interviewed an Army lieutenant colonel, who served during that conflict. He helped me see through my character’s eyes, and to feel, hear what Sarge experienced in the desert. Like how he’d saturate pieces of wool blanket and stuff them into his helmet to filter the stench from burning oil wells; how he heard the high-pitched squeal of Scud missiles . . . and that simple, terrifying “click” when he stepped on the landmine.