From a Doctor’s Point of View

Glenn ParrisAs a board certified rheumatologist, Glenn Parris has practiced medicine in the northeast Atlanta suburbs for over 20 years. He has been writing for nearly as long.

Originally from New York City, Parris migrated south to escape the cold and snow, but fell in love with the southern charms of Georgia and Carla, his wife of nearly 23 years. He now writes cross-genre in medical mystery, science fiction, fantasy, and historical fiction. The Renaissance of Aspirin is his debut novel.

Website URL:
The Renaissance of Aspirin book trailer

For my 50th birthday my wife treated me to a weekend getaway in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts. I found myself at the SEAK Workshop for physicians who’ve shown an interest in expressing themselves in writing. I’ve yearned to write my own story for the past 20 years. I have a deep love of science fiction, which is my favorite genre. Like most guys, I love things that go “boom”!

To expand my repertoire of literary voices, I decided to at least dabble in each genre that I like to read. My areas of interest are of course: science-fiction, medical thrillers/mysteries, historical fiction, urban and pre-civilization fantasies. Granted, it’s a wide spectrum of interest. That said, I like to bring a level of gritty realism to my writing. I’m not crazy about zombie or post-apocalypse fiction, so I usually avoid those areas. I delve into dialogue, in-depth descriptions of the surroundings as well as create four dimensional character profiles.

If you’re wondering what four dimensional character profiles are, just think about an individual in terms of his or her physical features, environment and the external forces coming to bear, dominant personality traits and motives as well as the individual’s background. This last component furnishes the fourth dimension of time.

As a physician, I spend hours each day serially interviewing patients as well as analyzing their habitus, molecular and anatomical make up vis-à-vis physical examination, biochemical profiles, and diagnostic images. Most definitive and meaningful information is afforded by the patient’s history. That has been repeated to me and every other physician since medical school. Seventy percent of the diagnosis and basis for treatment is formulated upon completion of the medical, social and family history. The physical examination adds approximately 20% towards the final 100%, the final 10% gleaned from investigative tests such as tissue, bodily fluids, x-rays, and various scans.

My approach in writing is to start with back story built from those components then placing my characters in what I call “situation normal”. From that point, I set up two or three “what if” queries and then I turn my main character’s world topsy-turvy. Well that’s it, in a nutshell. The rest is just details. Think that’s the end of the story? Hah! What is it they say? “The devil’s in the details.”

Once I flesh out the character, and some tribulations to plague him and his costars, I dive into the nitty-gritty details. This is where the fun begins. After 30 years of assessing people, factoring in family and social history, and economic, domestic and international challenges, I’ve uncovered unique, often quirky elements that defy belief, but are absolutely true. There’s nothing more intriguing to wrap a lie in than the truth. The challenge that every physician faces each day is translating his conclusions from “medical-ese” into English. When we don’t have the time constraints and press of our schedules, we can really have a lot of fun with this. My approach? Come home, slap on a pair of earbuds, crank up some music and listen to whatever crosses my tympanic membranes. (Those are my eardrums by the way.)

Every song has a story and even if the story’s the same, they’re told in a completely different light by every artist. I think of each character in my story as a separate artist expressing his interpretation of the life that he shares with other characters. My contribution to the flavor of this literary soup is stirring in interesting psychosocial, medical, genetic and pharmaceutical twists and turns that most people really don’t expect.

The Renaissance of AspirinI think every physician, scientist, engineer or lawyer writes with the trepidation that one of his peers, who knows as much as he does, will call him out on an outlandish premise or an inaccurate fact. I’m sure that nothing chafes an engineer more than a literary setting that defies the physical laws of the universe. In my experience, doctors are much the same. When we read medical fiction, we are looking for those missteps. There is no greater glee for some readers who have knowledge of the field than to point out a mistake made in the basic presentation of some technical aspect of your story. That’s when I remember the words of the late science fiction author, Octavia Butler. “Never let the truth get in the way of telling a good story.”

So, how do I balance an entertaining tale with a plausible basis in a reality in which I’m supposed to hold some expertise? My answer, build the story around the holes in our current knowledge. When I construct a medical device, ordeal or goal for my characters, I start with where our knowledge ends and conjecture begins. No one can fault you for solving a scientific problem that currently has no answer. You just have to be careful not to break known rules while you do it. The greatest onus on the writer is in writing current day or near-future fiction. By the time your story comes out, sometimes science has already solved that problem and you’re just dead wrong. When that happens, you stare at the page you discover it in, just say “poo”, move onto the next project, and eat crow from colleagues for a while. Hopefully, enough of them find the mistake and aspire to humiliate you by pointing it out to everyone they know which results in more book sales. Then guess who gets the last laugh?

Book Blitz: A Cold Legacy by Megan Shepherd

A Cold Legacy Blitz Banner


Title: A Cold Legacy
Series: Madman’s Daughter Trilogy #3
Author: Megan Shepherd
Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Publication date: January 27, 2015
Genres: Dark Fantasy, Mystery, Romance, Young Adult



After killing the men who tried to steal her father’s research, Juliet—
along with Montgomery, Lucy, Balthazar, and a deathly ill Edward—
has escaped to a remote estate on the Scottish moors. Owned by the
enigmatic Elizabeth von Stein, the mansion is full of mysteries and
unexplained oddities: dead bodies in the basement, secret passages,
and fortune-tellers who seem to know Juliet’s secrets. Though it
appears to be a safe haven, Juliet fears new dangers
may be present within the manor’s own walls.

Then Juliet uncovers the truth about the manor’s long history
of scientific experimentation—and her own intended role in it—forcing
her to determine where the line falls between right and wrong, life and
death, magic and science, and promises and secrets. And she must
decide if she’ll follow her father’s dark footsteps or her mother’s
tragic ones, or whether she’ll make her own.

With inspiration from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, this breathless
conclusion to the Madman’s Daughter trilogy is about the things we’ll
sacrifice to save those we love—even our own humanity.


Purchase Links:

Barnes & Noble Buy Button     Kobo Buy Button     Amazon Buy Button     Indiebound Button 2


An Excerpt from A Cold Legacy

Montgomery stopped the horses outside a tavern. He came to the carriage door, opening it just a crack to keep the rain from drenching us. “I’m going to ask directions. We can’t be far now.”

We watched him saunter over the muddy street as though he didn’t even feel the bite of freezing rain. A face appeared in the tavern window. The door opened and he spoke to a woman in a wool dress for a few moments, then stomped back through the mud. “This village is called Quick,” he told us. “The manor’s only five miles from here.”

A Cold Legacy“Did you hear that?” Lucy murmured to Edward, still stroking his hair. “We’re almost there. Just hold on. Everything will be all right once we arrive.”

Montgomery’s eyes shifted to me. Neither of us wanted to remind Lucy that the prospect of Edward’s fever breaking—and the Beast’s reappearance—was almost more frightening than the fever itself. Delirious, he was less of a threat.

“Let’s go then,” I whispered to Montgomery. “And quickly.”

He closed the door and in another moment we were moving again, passing through the rest of Quick. Then all too soon the village was nothing but fading lights. The storm grew and the road became rougher, and all the while Edward’s eyes rolled back and forth beneath shuttered lids.

Thunder struck close by, and Lucy shrieked. Montgomery whipped the horses harder, pulling us along the uneven road impossibly fast, trying to outrun the storm. I twisted in the seat to look out the back window at the pelting rain. A stone fence ran alongside us.

“We must be getting close,” I said.

“Not soon enough,” Lucy breathed. “We’re going to crash if he keeps driving like this!”

The road widened, straightening, letting us travel even faster. Lightning struck close by, blinding me. The horses bolted. Lucy screamed and covered her eyes, but I couldn’t tear mine away. The lightning had struck an enormous oak tree, twisted from centuries of wind. The oak took flame, blazing despite the rain. A smoking gash ran down the trunk—the lightning’s death mark. I watched until the rain put out most of the flames, but it still smoldered, billowing hot ash into the night.

The horses pawed the earth, and I grabbed the window to steady myself. At this wild speed, just hitting a single rock at the wrong angle would send the carriage shattering to the ground. It was madness to go so fast. Couldn’t Montgomery calm the horses?

Just when I feared the carriage would careen out of control, it stopped short, throwing me against the opposite wall. I tangled in Lucy’s limbs as the chains around Edward’s body clinked. Balthazar grunted, jerking awake at last. We scrambled in the bottom of the carriage until the door flew open.

Montgomery stood in the pelting rain. I feared he’d say we’d broken another strut or the horses had gone lame or we’d have to spend the night in the harsh storm.

But then I saw the lights behind him, and the night took shape into a turreted stone manor with bright lamps blazing and gargoyles on the roof vomiting rain into a stone courtyard.

Montgomery’s eyes met mine beneath the low brim of his hat.

“We’ve arrived,” he said.


About the Author

Megan ShepherdHello!
I’ve been many things, like a professional exchange student, park ranger in Montana, and LOST enthusiast, but what I am now is a writer.

I think it’s fair to say I was born into it. I grew up in the mountains of North Carolina, raised behind the counter of my parents’ independent bookstore, Highland Books in Brevard. Ah, so many free books. But I never thought being a writer could be a real career. After college I thought I’d end up as a foreign service officer somewhere dashing and exotic, like Canada. I studied French, Spanish, German, and Russian and still speak a few of those. Then I joined the Peace Corps and spent two years in Senegal, where I learned a few more languages I’ll never speak again and lived in a mud hut with no electricity or running water. You can probably imagine how that experience went, but if you’re curious, here are the dirty details.

It wasn’t until a chance acquaintance read something I wrote and said, “have you ever considered being a writer?” that something clicked and I realized it was possible. My husband encouraged me, and I quickly fell head-over-heels in love with writing and children’s literature in particular. I started out writing articles, which have appeared in Faces, Appleseeds, and Calliope magazines, and stories for younger children. I soon realized I wasn’t sweet enough to write fiction for that age and found myself writing young adult literature instead, which doesn’t require nearly as many tender moments and includes a lot more cursing.

When I’m not writing, I can usually be found horseback riding, day dreaming at coffee shops, or hiking in the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina. I love to hear from readers, so please drop me a line!

I am represented by Josh Adams of Adams Literary.

Author Photo by Kristi Hedberg Photography

Website / Twitter / Facebook / Tumblr / Goodreads


Giveaway Details:
1 winner will receive a signed copy of
A COLD LEGACY and swag! US Only.
Ends on February 6th at Midnight EST!
Enter the Rafflecopter drawing here.


Megan Shepherd Twitter Chat Graphic


Rockstar Book Tours Button