A big Novel Kicks welcome today to Dean Mayes. His novel, The Artisan Heart is due to be released by Central Avenue Publishing on 1st September.
“Hayden Luschcombe is a brilliant pediatrician living in Adelaide with his wife Bernadette, an ambitious event planner. His life consists of soul-wrenching days at the hospital and tedious evenings attending the lavish parties organised by Bernadette.
When an act of betrayal coincides with a traumatic confrontation, Hayden flees Adelaide, his life in ruins. His destination is Walhalla, nestled in Australia’s southern mountains, where he finds his childhood home falling apart. With nothing to return to, he stays, and begins to pick up the pieces of his life by fixing up the house his parents left behind.
A chance encounter with a precocious and deaf young girl introduces Hayden to Isabelle Sampi, a struggling artisan baker. While single-handedly raising her daughter, Genevieve, and trying to resurrect a bakery, Isabelle has no time for matters of the heart. Yet the presence of the handsome doctor challenges her resolve. Likewise, Hayden, protective of his own fractured heart, finds something in Isabelle that awakens dormant feelings of his own.
As their attraction grows, and the past threatens their chance at happiness, both Hayden and Isabelle will have to confront long-buried truths if they are ever to embrace a future.”
Dean is himself an Intensive Care nurse and he is with us today to talk about how he portrays Medicine in fiction.
It is often said that, as a writer, our best writing comes from what we know. I’ve tried to buck that trend over the course of my published works, but there’s an inevitable truth I’ve come to accept – that maxim definitely holds true.
Having been an Nurse for over two decades now – with most of my career focused in Intensive Care – both Adult, pediatric and Neonates – along with Accident & Emergency – I’ve seen things and gained experiences as a clinician that translate well into the realm of gritty fiction. There’s compelling character moments to be found and situations that offer high drama. At the same time, I have to be mindful that I’m writing for a general audience who may not be well versed in the minutiae of medicine. There’s definitely a high wire act to master in writing engaging scenes.
My soon to be released novel “The Artisan Heart” is probably the most comprehensive example of me using my career experience to craft characters and situations.
In the story, we are introduced to Hayden Luschcombe, a brilliant pediatric emergency doctor who has an uncanny ability in diagnosing his patients quickly, efficiently and accurately. He has saved many lives as a result and, as a clinician, he is held in high regard – even if, as a person, he is seen as socially awkward and “on the spectrum” as some colleagues point out in their interactions with him. In one scene, early in the novel, Hayden’s acute sense of observation proves to be life saving for a new-born baby who presents with a stricture of the intestine. In another powerful moment, further on, Hayden correctly suspects a child has been deliberately scalded in boiling water by her parents. During the scene there is a highly charged confrontation between the child’s step father and Hayden that serves to illustrate the variation in presentations to the department and the dramatic circumstances that can spill off from those presentations.
While I won’t blow my own trumpet here and compare myself to Hayden Luschcombe, I did I craft Hayden as an amalgam of my own clinical experiences, working in a busy, inner city children’s emergency department. There are probably two or three other doctors in Hayden, medicos who I’ve worked alongside and watched over the past 10 years. The two examples I cited above are based on real clincial presentations, the latter of which was indeed as emotionally charged as it appears in the novel.
Portraying medicine in a fictional narrative can be tricky. As a writer – and a Nurse – I have to be mindful of balancing accurate clinical information with engaging characters and engaging drama. A lot of what I do as an ICU clinician is very droll, finicky and doesn’t make for interesting story telling. In the early drafts of The Artisan Heart, I tended towards a much more comprehensive explanation of clinical procedure that clearly did not translate well in the context of fiction. Over the course of many edits, I had to adopt a more every day citizen approach in portraying scenes of medical procedure. There actually turned out to be an easy solution to this. I found the most compelling elements of these scenes were to be found in the characters emotional reactions to events. Often, in moments of high drama, how we react is visceral, charged. By smoothing out the finicky details and heightening the experience of the players in the scene, I was able to achieve a much more satisfying narrative.
Writing what I know as a Clinician has served me well throughout my writing career. It’s easy to access and mine for great story telling. While I used to resist it, I recognize now that it’s a plus factor for me.
Emerging in 2010 as a self-professed “late bloomer”, Adelaide based Intensive Care Nurse and author Dean Mayes, had almost given up on the prospect of ever being published by the time he was in his mid 30’s. But Dean had an idea for a story that he wanted to tell and, rather than allow it to wither and die in his imagination, he decided to blog the story.
Quite unexpectedly, the blog took off as a rapidly growing audience “tuned in” to Dean’s dream like tale of a young man who discovers he has taken on the memories and dreams of a complete stranger in the aftermath of a near fatal drug overdose.
In 2010, Dean’s blog became his début novel “The Hambledown Dream” – a lyrical and moving romance about a young man’s journey on both sides of mortality. The novel has since gone on to receive global attention and critical acclaim.
His other novels are Gifts of the Peramangk released in October 2012 and The Regenesis Cluster released in 2013, and The Recipient which was released in 2016.
His new novel, The Artisan’s Heart is due to be released on 1st September.
He lives in Adelaide, Australia with his partner Emily, their two children Xavier and Lucy. He can often be found lying on a hospital gurney at 3 in the morning with a notebook in hand, madly scribbling ideas while on break.
To view The Artisan Heart on Goodreads, click here.