I love authors, I really do. However a very few of them…well, let me explain
I’m sitting in front of my computer this morning wondering what topic I wanted to discuss. Should I throw up another Adult Truth? Or another taekwondo life theme? How about I introduce my new series of blogs on Tourist Complaints and how they relate to my life. Or maybe even the new series of restaurant reviews featuring some of my books’ characters.
Suddenly, (and I know an author is supposed to NOT use that word. Too cliche.), the door burst open, and a woman with a dog trot right into my apartment. My cat dashed into the bedroom to cower under the bed and I splorked smoothie out my nose. (Second time in a couple of weeks I’ve done that.)
The dog, a little yapper of a thing, though still pretty cute, chases me from my chair, the woman sits, and before I can clean my shirt and my face, types out the following. The dog licks smoothie from the floor and soon it and the woman exit with a wagging tail and waving hand.
You know, all she had to do was ask to be a guest blogger this week. No need to scare my cat.
Beginning a Journey with Ignore the Pain
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step” (Laozi, ~600 B.C.). Begin your journey to excitement and maybe a little better understanding of South America by reading the medical thriller Ignore the Pain.
First let’s start with a quick sketch of Ignore the Pain. Sara Almquist couldn’t say no when invited to be the epidemiologist on a public health mission to assess children’s health in Bolivia. Soon someone from her past is chasing her through the Witches’ Market and churches of La Paz. Unfortunately, she can’t decide whether to trust any of her new colleagues, especially the unsavory Xave Zack, as she learns more about coca production and the god Tio of the silver mines of Potosí than she ever wanted to know.
Why is a medical thriller set in Bolivia?
I wanted a setting with real public health problems. Bolivia fits the bill.
Over 6% of the children born in Bolivia die before five years of age. That’s a big improvement; in 1990, 12.5% died before five years of age. Hence, I have Sara serving as an epidemiologist on a team sent to assess factors influencing childhood mortality and morbidity in Bolivia. My background is as a scientist and I have served as a science consultant overseas, so I made the consulting situation realistic.
I wanted to expose readers to a different culture. The majority (62%) of the people of Bolivia are of indigenous ancestry; much of the rest (30%) are mestizos (mixed European and indigenous heritage).
In Ignore the Pain, you get a taste of Bolivian culture at the Witches’ Market in La Paz. Native women in black bowler hats and layered brightly colored skirts sell bags of popped corn, cheap mementoes, and llama fetuses for offerings to the gods.
Sara guides you through Iglesia de San Francisco with its façade sculpted with stern natives with headdresses and then across the roof. The tour is a bit unusual because Sara is being chased by someone determined to kill her. The description of the roof is realistic – I’ve been there.
One aspect of the culture is Bolivia is the ubiquitous presence of coca, the raw material for cocaine. If you doubt me, look at the tea bag cover I brought back from La Paz. Coca tea is available in most restaurants. Bolivia is the third largest producer of coca in the world.
That doesn’t mean that most Bolivians are spaced out zombies; their use of coca is often logical. Thus in Ignore the Pain, Sara learns laborers in the silver mines of Potosí carry little food or water into the mines. In order to endure the pain caused by thirst, hunger, and heavy exertion at a high altitude (13,000 feet), they chew coca leaves. The active ingredients in coca leaves are stimulants, which help users ignore pain. Those facts are also basis for the title of the novel.
How does Sara step back into the US?
I don’t want to give away the plot, but throughout the novel I show at least one of Sara’s past neighbors is also interested in Bolivia, but for very different reasons. He sees it as major source of illicit drugs to bring to New Mexico.
Take a first step. Read Ignore the Pain. Then decide if you want to visit Bolivia. I guarantee both are excitin
Bio:For more on JL Greger, check out her website: www.jlgreger.com and blog: JL’s Bugs at http://www.jlgregerblog.blogspot.com. The Bugs in her blog aren’t insects. They are her real life Japanese Chin dog, who is a pet therapy dog in hospital in the Albuquerque area, and the fictional dog featured in her novels.
Here are thumbnail sketches of the two previous novels in this medical thriller/mystery series. Learn whether the Philippine flu or a drug kingpin caught in a quarantine is more deadly in Coming Flu.Discover whether an ambitious young “diet doctor” or old-timers with buried secrets are killers in Murder: A New Way to Lose Weight.
The novels are available in paperback and Kindle formats from Amazon.