Researching The Gift of Life: Watching a Heart Transplant to Finding the Silent Story

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Research is my happy place. I do extensive research for every book I write and it’s where I learn not just technical information but also start to find my character development, settings and plot points too. I get to travel within Australian and overseas for location research, which is a great gift. I interview people, spend hours on the internet, watch loads of YouTube videos and, inevitably, buy a lot of reference books. It is the phase where anything is still possible, ideas are still forming and excitement takes me back again and again for more.

My forthcoming novel, The Gift of Life, is based around organ donation, specifically, heart transplants. I love anatomy (I studied it for two semesters) and Biology was also my strongest subject at school and I then did another semester of it at uni. As a result, I loved brushing up on all my anatomy and physiology and researching the many causes and treatments of heart failure, some of which lead to the need for an organ donation. I even ended up at the cardiologist myself, as I have a long history of arrhythmias and, as I found out in my research, these can lead to heart failure! (Fortunately for me, the type I have appear to be uncomplicated.) My husband, too, also ended up at the cardiologist, then my mum went… It seemed like every time I turned around, ‘hearts’ were the theme of the day.  One thing I learned through all this research was that we are all vulnerable to heart issues, which can come with a long list of complications, which can also lead to a need for a transplant. I really had no idea how common it was.

The amount of personal testimony I came across (both from the point of view of a heart transplant recipient and also from the family of those who had consented to the donation of their loved one’s organs) is significantly higher coming from the USA than it is Australia. This was both tricky–because the USA medical and legal systems are very different to ours–and also an opportunity to hear different experiences and voices from those who’ve gone through the process.

There is a wealth of videos on YouTube and I even came across one that showed a heart transplant operation. That one was a little tough to stomach, to be honest!

I interviewed two Australian heart transplant recipients, which was a fabulous opportunity to hear their stories firsthand. They were both very different people–he a middle-aged man with a wife, children and career–and she a young woman in her twenties with a long life ahead if only she could get the chance. Their experience of the process was vastly different too. The organ transplant process is a gamble at every stage: the illness, the waiting period, the operation, the recovery, the chances of rejection and ongoing complications.

In the end, I had way more information than I could use in the book, which is normal. The Gift of Life starts two years after Gabby McPhee had her heart transplant; therefore much of what I learned about the difficult, emotional waiting stage (and the ongoing physical rehabilitation and care through that period) had to be cut and left out; however, it’s all there in my mind, forming the basis to the background of Gabby’s psyche.

I also became really interested in the more silent half of the story–the experiences of the family members who make the decision to donate. These stories are harder to find, and understandably so, as their experience is rooted in trauma, shock and grief. But as a writer, that ‘silent space’ is the most interesting to me. The possibility of a new, untold story is the one I want to follow. The wealth of information I found on the other side (the recipient’s stories) served to highlight a gap in the narrative that, when voiced through the character of Krystal Arthur, fleshed out the full circle of life.

I loved researching this book. It was utterly fascinating from beginning to end.

 

Win a Manuscript Assessment with Annette Barlow!

Annette Barlow is auctioning herself! She has worked at Allen & Unwin as an editor and a publisher for over 25 years. Annette teaches at Faber Academy at A&U and is in charge of the annual Australian/Vogel’s Literary Award. This is your rare opportunity to win her attention to get invaluable feedback on your work in progress!

PS you also help farmers, with money raised going to Rural Aid.

You can find more information and bidding details on eBay at https://rover.ebay.com/rover/0/0/0?mpre=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ebay.com.au%2Fulk%2Fitm%2F332828513395

Round 1 Ebay Auctions, Now Live!

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Bid now for a manuscript assessment with:
 
Publisher/Author Sophie Green
 
Author Michael Trant
 
Author Jenn J McLeod

Manuscript Appraisals for Aspiring Writers, Starting Monday, 6pm!

Calling all writers!

Your chance to win yourself a RARE opportunity for feedback on your work in progress from a leading Australian publisher or author is nearly here!

Round 1 bidding begins on ebay, Monday October 15 at 6pm!

This round includes:
Publisher, Sophie Green:
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To find the auction you’re interested in, just search ‘Authors for Farmers’ and the person’s name.
This is a fundraiser initiative with proceeds going to Buy a Bale (Rural Aid) to assist Australian farmers experiencing hardship through drought.
I can’t wait to see what talent is unearthed in this process.
Best of luck!
Jo

Win a Manuscript Assessment with Author Louise Allan

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The first of our wonderful Australian authors in this third and final round who has donated her time to raise funds for Buy a Bale and help an aspiring writer at the same time is debut author Louise Allan. Here is some information about Louise and what she is offering.

If you have been working on a manuscript and want the chance to win first class feedback and maybe even find your work in front of the right people who can make your dream come true, then make sure you keep following along and bid, bid, bid to win Louise’s attention!

Louise’s offer will be on eBay in the THIRD round of auctions, starting 19 October, 6pm.

Welcome, Louise!

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Bio: Louise Allan is a former doctor who turned to writing in her forties. Her first novel, The Sisters’ Song, was published in January 2018 by Allen & Unwin. Louise was awarded the 2018 Tina Kane Emergent Writer Prize at the Mildura Writers Festival and her novel was shortlisted for the 2014 TAG Hungerford Award and awarded a Varuna residential fellowship.

Why are you excited to do this? I like the idea of helping farmers and fellow writers at the same time!

Genres: My preference is for literary, commercial literary, historical and women’s fiction. I also don’t mind a bit of crime.

Submission length: Maximum 25 pages

Communication: Email is probably best and I can use Track Changes.

If the author would like a Q&A session, I’d be happy to chat for an hour face-to-face (if they’re in Perth), or via Skype if elsewhere in Australia.

Reply time: Two weeks

Auction reserve: $99

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Interested? Of course you are! Stay tuned by following me on Facebook, Twitter or here on this blog to make sure you get all the news in the lead up to this exciting event!

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AUTHORS FOR FARMERS is an initiative by Australian author Josephine Moon (www.josephinemoon.com) to band together fellow authors from around the country to help with drought relief fundraising for Australian farmers. All money raised goes to BUY A BALE (registered charity, http://www.buyabale.com.au).

(Please note: Ebay charges fees for using its platform and these will be will be deducted from the total donation amount at the end.)

Win a Manuscript Assessment with Author Annie Seaton

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Our third author for round two who has donated her time to raise funds for Buy a Bale and help an aspiring or emerging writer at the same time is prolific (Annie has published more than twenty books!) and multi-genre writer Annie Seaton. Here is some information about Annie and what she is offering.

If you have been working on a manuscript and want the chance to win first class feedback and maybe even find your work in front of the right people who can make your dream come true, then make sure you keep following along and bid, bid, bid to win Annie’s attention!

Annie’s offer will be on eBay in the SECOND round of auctions, starting 17 October, 6pm.

Welcome, Annie!

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Bio: Annie Seaton lives near the beach on the east coast of Australia, fulfilling her lifelong dream of being an author. Each winter, Annie and her husband leave the beach to roam the remote areas of Australia for story ideas and research. Readers can contact Annie through her website, annieseaton.net or find her on Face book and Twitter.

Why are you excited to do this? I am pleased to be involved in this great initiative. Also, one of the best things about being an author is working with aspiring authors.

Genres: No erotica. No fantasy. No paranormal

Submission length: Three chapters

Communication: Email

Reply time: Within 2 months

Auction reserve: $149

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Interested? Of course you are! Stay tuned by following me on Facebook, Twitter or here on this blog to make sure you get all the news in the lead up to this exciting event!

____________________

AUTHORS FOR FARMERS is an initiative by Australian author Josephine Moon (www.josephinemoon.com) to band together fellow authors from around the country to help with drought relief fundraising for Australian farmers. All money raised goes to BUY A BALE (registered charity, http://www.buyabale.com.au).

(Please note: Ebay charges fees for using its platform and these will be will be deducted from the total donation amount at the end.)

Win a Manuscript Assessment with Author Katie Rowney

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Our second author for round two who has donated her time to raise funds for Buy a Bale and help an aspiring writer at the same time is the multi-talented Katie Rowney. Here is some information about Katie and what she is offering.

If you have been working on a manuscript and want the chance to win first class feedback and maybe even find your work in front of the right people who can make your dream come true, then make sure you keep following along and bid, bid, bid to win Katie’s attention!

Katie’s offer will be on eBay in the SECOND round of auctions, starting 17 October, 6pm.

Welcome, Katie!

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Bio: Katie Rowney writes fiction and non-fiction books about almost anything that takes her fancy. Front Page News, her debut, was also her first-ever attempt at writing a novel and was selected from Penguin Random House’s slush pile for publication. A former journalist and communications specialist and editor by trade, Katie has a love of words and reads at least three books a week.

Why are you excited to do this? I love reading, writing, and anything to do with words, and believe a good author gets as much out of editing others work as they do writing their own. I come from a long line of farmers and am delighted to be able to assist in this small way.

Genres: Any, excluding historical fiction, erotica.

Submission length: whole manuscript

Communication: email, phone

Reply time: within three months

Auction reserve: $99

_____________________

Interested? Of course you are! Stay tuned by following me on Facebook, Twitter or here on this blog to make sure you get all the news in the lead up to this exciting event!

____________________

AUTHORS FOR FARMERS is an initiative by Australian author Josephine Moon (www.josephinemoon.com) to band together fellow authors from around the country to help with drought relief fundraising for Australian farmers. All money raised goes to BUY A BALE (registered charity, http://www.buyabale.com.au).

(Please note: Ebay charges fees for using its platform and these will be will be deducted from the total donation amount at the end.)