Writers are often told to write what they know. Then, of course, you get advice from writers who love to research, saying, “Have fun learning! Do the research, and then write what you didn’t know.” 🙂
I think there are things to be said for both arguments, but in my first book, I wrote what I knew. My maternal grandparents raised their family during the Great Depression and lived in very poor circumstances. To add to the difficulty, my grandmother suffered from hypothyroidism. She became very lethargic, gained weight and had on-going health problems.
After World War II, she found a medication that changed everything. Her children said “She became a new woman.” She went to work for a health care facility (nursing home), then went back to school to get her LPN and eventually ended up buying the facility and running it for many years. She loved the people she cared for and enjoyed managing the facility.
As I grew older, I spent time working in the kitchen and then helping in the laundry. As I worked, I listened to the nurses and health care workers as they discussed their duties and their patients. It takes special people to have the patience and love necessary to care for older, incapacitated people, and I knew those workers and their world.
The novel is not set in my grandmother’s era, so I had to make sure that the procedures and medication were up-to-date. I visited two health care facilities in Ohio and asked endless questions about procedures and medication as I toured the facilities. As I wrote the book, other questions surfaced and I was able to talk to the managers and make sure what I wrote was accurate. Their help was vital.
As our population ages, many of us will be facing hard decisions about the care of our loved ones, and perhaps even making decisions for our continued care. I am encouraged by the changes that have come to these facilities and know that in the best of them, they are managed by competent and caring people. So, I thought it might be fun to have such a facility as the setting for a mystery.