Written by Mairi Chong
I used to be a doctor, but now I write books about murder and malpractice. My protagonist, in the DR CATHY MORELAND MYSTERY series, is a doctor with bipolar disorder. It’s something I know a bit about.
Leaving Medicine For Writing
I reluctantly gave up work as a general practitioner following the personal diagnosis of bipolar, several years ago. The experience of being a patient rather than a clinician was both excruciating and profoundly humbling. I desperately mourned the identity that my career in medicine gave me. I missed my colleagues and patients, but I knew that I had little hope of getting back to where I had once been.
Bipolar affects people in many different ways. My experience is to hear music in my head almost constantly when I am unwell. But one day, I woke to find that the music had been replaced by the spoken word. I always enjoyed creative writing as a child and read quite voraciously. Over the years also, I wrote some bits and pieces for medical journals.
That morning, as I listened to the words in my head and the jumble of a message that they began to form, I started writing it down and it gave me immediate and quite physical relief. Now that I am thankfully more stable, my words have greater clarity and their message can form a real story.
Writing Death By Appointment
I chose to write crime fiction because I am an avid murder mystery fan myself. My books are traditional in structure and my aim in writing them has always been to offer the reader a ‘good deal’. I like to keep them guessing until the very end with lots of interesting characters and red herrings!
I gave my protagonist the same mental health disorder as myself, partly to raise awareness of the illness and to explain what it entails, but also to gift a heroic role to someone with a severe psychiatric issue. In doing this, I never intended to evoke empathy, but instead, a realisation that the disease, along with the alternative way of thinking that comes with it, can lead to truly great things (such as solving a murder!) Obviously, with a background in medicine, it made sense for the murder mystery series to be set in a doctors’ surgery. I hope that my readers will enjoy getting a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes!
I was delighted when the hugely supportive Bloodhound Books signed me for a seven-book contract earlier this year and so far, I have loved working with them. My first novel titled: DEATH BY APPOINTMENT will be released in January 2022.
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