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J.L. Delozier - Inspired by Malaria

A medical article about malaria inspired J.L. Delozier to write a book about a virus that attacks by blood type. As a child, Delozier dreamt about becoming an author, but she became a doctor instead. She however never abandoned her dream and combines her passion for both medicine and storytelling in riveting thrillers. As our Author of the Day, Delozier talks about her latest novel, Type & Cross, her fascination with medicine and science and how she doesn't plan her books.

Please give us a short introduction to what Type & Cross is about.

How’s this for short? A homemade virus with deadly global implications. A disgruntled scientist with a coded plan. And a nightmare-plagued, tequila-swilling psychologist-for-hire tasked with finding him before he succeeds.

What inspired you to write about a virus that attacks by blood type? And how likely is something like that to happen?

Malaria. Really. I was reading a medical article about how hemoglobin S – the type of blood in people with sickle cell disease – developed as a protection against malaria. It made me think: If a “blood type” can protect against a disease, why couldn’t be a conduit for disease? Before you know it, I’d developed the Type O plague! A virus attacking by blood type is not likely to happen, but mutated forms of viruses occur all the time and often jump from pigs and birds to humans. We’re due for an all-new strain of the flu, and when one hits, it’ll be ugly.

Tell us about your journey as an author - did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

Yes. Always. I wrote short stories and poems in elementary school and promised myself I’d write a book someday. Even wrote it on mu bucket list, right between “take up cake decorating” and “travel to Italy.”

Why medical thrillers? What is it about the genre that fascinates you?

They always say to write what you know. I know science and medicine. I grew up reading classic literature, sci fi, and horror, so I didn’t really set out to write a thriller. I sat down to write a scary book with a scientific backbone. My next thriller actually has many more horror elements to it.

You provided disaster care during hurricanes Katrina, Ike and Gustav. How have these experiences influenced your outlook on life?

Be kind. There are so many less fortunate souls out there. Appreciate everything. It can be swept away at any moment. And pay attention. All those gritty details show up in my next book, Storm Shelter!

Type & Cross is a book that is hard to put down. What are some of the things you do to keep your readers hooked?

Thank you! I try to end each chapter with a dramatic, “cliffhanger” moment—much like TV crime shows do before a commercial break.

Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?

I play the accordion – badly. And I’m a pretty decent do-it-herselfer when it comes to home renovations.

Tell us more about Seph. What makes her such a great lead character?

Like all memorable characters, she’s deeply flawed and struggling with her demons. People can relate to that.

How much research did you have to do to make the science so believable? And how much did you have to simplify it to keep it easy to read?

The simplification was the hardest part. I wasn’t sure I had it right – the balance between believable and boring – until I started getting positive feedback from readers. I had to do some research, but mostly I just had to relearn everything I’d forgotten from medical school!

Tell us more about the cover and how it came about.

The cover was all WiDo (my publisher.)

Do you have any interesting writing habits? What does an average writing day look like for you?

I write the first page and the last page of the book first. I always know how the book is going to end, but otherwise, I fly by the seat of my pants.

I don’t have an average writing day because of my day job. I tried, but I can’t. I do what I can when I can and try not to beat myself up about it.

Do you plot out your books before you start writing?

Nope – total pantser. I scribble a few notes and carry the story around in my head where it morphs into shape as I write. What are you working on right now?

I just delivered the final edits on Storm Shelter, a prequel to Type & Cross. It’s set ten years prior, when Seph is still a wet-behind-the-ears psychologist taking care of patients, not criminals. It gives the backstory of what turned her into the tequila-swilling, burnt-out criminal psychologist we meet in Type & Cross.

Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?

All the usual haunts:

Type & Cross

Type & Cross

J.L. Delozier
A homemade virus that attacks by blood type. A disgruntled scientist with a coded plan. And a nightmare-plagued, tequila-swilling psychologist-for-hire tasked with finding him. What's your type? Your life may depend on it.

About the Author

Dr. Jennifer Delozier submitted her first story, handwritten in pencil on lined school paper, to Isaac Asimov's magazine while still in junior high school. Several years later, she took a creative writing elective at Penn State University and was hooked. She received her BS and MD degrees in six years, which was followed by the blur of internship, residency and the launch of her medical career. But she never forgot her first love. When she sat down to write her debut thriller, she spent some time rediscovering her favorite physician writers. From the deductive reasoning of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to the cutting edge science of Michael Crichton, she remains inspired by facts that lie on the edge of reality: bizarre medical anomalies, new genetic discoveries and so on. These form the backbone of Type & Cross. Dr. Delozier spent the early part of her career as a rural family doctor and then later as a government physician, caring for America’s veterans and deploying to disasters such as Hurricanes Katrina, Ike, and Gustav. She continues to practice medicine and lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and four rescue cats.
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