Medicine is probably one of the best backgrounds for a writer to find stories. I always think cops and docs have the best background because we see so much of human behavior, such a range of human emotions.
One of the best Christmas presents I ever got was the globe that I now keep right beside my desk.
'I am a bad mother.' Every Christmas, this is what I think because the holiday season fills me with such anxiety. I'm sure that other mothers are happily baking cookies, decorating trees, and finding perfect gifts for everyone.
Because my dad's Chinese-American, and they're very concrete, he said, 'There's no money to be made in literature.' So he told me to go into the sciences. And I was a good girl. And I did what Daddy said. And that's how I ended up being a doctor. But you know, you just can't stamp out that desire to tell stories.
Only with maturity did I come to appreciate my own Chinese roots: not just the food and the ancient history, but also the philosophy of child-rearing and the respect for education and knowledge.
I met my husband, Jacob, in medical school. We married and went to live in Hawaii where his family lived. It was very beautiful, but I wasn't used to being on an island and needed wide open spaces. Eventually we moved to Maine, New England.
I think of myself as a fairly logical, scientific and somewhat reserved person. Maura Isles, the Boston medical examiner who appears in five of my books, is me. Almost everything I use in describing her, from her taste in wine to her biographical data, is taken from my own family. Except I don't have a serial killer as a mother!
My dad was Chinese-American and very conservative when it came to his family's futures. He said if I wanted to have a secure job, I should go into science. So I did what Dad said and went to medical school, but the writing bug never left me.
I think what medical training does is it gives you the language, the tools to look up facts. I think medical training gives you a sense of how to approach a problem, how to look at symptoms and go down the list of what it might be.
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