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: http://www.GlennParris.com
The Renaissance of Aspirin book trailer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zCS6N_lzG6A
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.
I 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?