Melissa Yi - Gripping Supernatural Medical Thriller

Melissa Yi - Gripping Supernatural Medical Thriller

Melissa Yi could slice your throat and sew it back up again. Legally. Because she's an emergency doctor. In her spare minutes, Melissa writes thrillers about Dr. Hope Sze, a resident doctor bone-deep in a murder, some of which have been finalists for the Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award for Best Thriller and the Crime Writers of Canada Award of Excellence. In The Shapes of Wrath, which debuts February 1, 2023, Hope confronts a killer surgeon—and a ghost—in the operating room. Under the name Melissa Yuan-Innes, Melissa writes award-winning speculative fiction and nonfiction. Sometimes, she sleeps. Find her online at, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.

Please give us a short introduction to what The Shapes of Wrath is about.

Dr. Hope Sze fights to survive her surgery rotation with an evil surgeon in a haunted hospital.

What inspired you to write this story? Was there anything in particular that made you want to tackle this?

I'm an emergency doctor who invented Hope, a resident doctor who fights crime. She saves lives not only in hospital but by hunting down killers. The Shapes of Wrath begins a new series about Hope and the seven deadly sins. We see a lot of anger in the operating room.

Tell us more about Dr. Hope Sze. What makes her so special?

Hope's the only "detective doctor" I know. Medical residency is brutal enough, literally working around the clock (I remember eating "supper" at 3 a.m. on general surgery), but to take on murderers too makes Hope a superhero. Plus she falls in love with two different men at the same time. And in The Shapes of Wrath, Hope discovers a new and secret power.

Why a crime novel? What drew you to the genre?

I like the mental puzzle of mysteries, the adrenaline of thrillers, and the what-if of the supernatural. The Shapes of Wrath combines all three.


Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?

I attract mosquitoes. Put 30 people in a room, and the mosquitoes will all pick me. Even if I'm side by side with my own kids, who must share my genes, the mosquitoes prefer my flesh.

Interesting cover. Please tell us more about how it came to be.

Before The Shapes of Wrath, I didn't compute how much people love human faces on a book cover. The ComixLaunch podcast encouraged me to look at Netflix thumbnails for eye-catching images. Wrath required a thrilling medical image of an Asian female, which is harder to find than you might think. Andrew at Design for Writers did a beautiful job. I love how he subtly incorporated a ghostly element to the cover.

Readers say the book kept them up through the night. What is your secret to keeping them hooked throughout the story?

Thrillers mean putting someone you love in danger at (almost) all times. For Wrath, the danger could be medical or supernatural. Of course I love Hope, my alter ego, but I also care about her friends, colleagues, and patients. Plus I created Dr. Vrac, the jaw-droppingly mean antagonist. Racist, sexist, homophobic, you name it. People want to see him get his comeuppance!

Did you plot out your story before you start writing, or did a lot of it just "happen" along the way?

I discover as I go along and then I pare it all down in one meticulous plot. Honestly a huge headache, but worth it in the end.

Do any of your characters ever take off on their own tangent, refusing to do what you had planned for them?

Oh, yeah. That's part of the discovery for me. I find it amusing until the novel spirals out of control, and then I have to kill them.

Just kidding.


You also included some romance and the supernatural in this story. Why did you take this approach?

Romance and friendship make life worth living! I personally don't read unrelenting tragedy or horror. If I wanted to get depressed, I'd go to the ER. So I always make sure to include fun relationships and lots of humour.

I also love speculative fiction because why limit yourself to one world when you could have ten? That said, the Hope Sze Medical Crime series is mostly true to life, and The Shapes of Wrath begins Hope's Seven Deadly Sins series, which have a supernatural element, so readers can toggle between realism vs. the fantastic.

This is book 1 of the Hope's Seven Deadly Sins series. Can it be read as a standalone? How do the other books in the story tie in with this one?

All Hope books can be read as standalones. A crime is initiated and solved in each one. Many readers are organized and like to start with the very first book, Code Blues, and witness Hope and her friends (and lovers) evolve, but for example, one nurse told me she wanted The Shapes of Wrath because "My heart is in the O.R.," and that's fantastic!

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

I try to follow Gustave Flaubert's advice: "Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work." If I can work out and write early on, especially in the mornings, I'm happy. We walk our dogs up to seven times a day. I'll try to sneak in a nap, cardio and yoga. I must read. I don't watch TV so much, but at the moment, I can't resist Ted Lasso.


What are you working on right now?

Sugar & Vice, where Hope explores her second seven deadly sin, gluttony! I love to eat, so this is a fun one for me. I'm planning an exciting Kickstarter campaign in the Fall that might include Chinese rice dumplings and local maple syrup (not together)!

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

Website: Sign up for my newsletter, and you’ll get free stuff!