Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Interview with author BJ Magnani

Hello again! Today we're visiting with author Dr. B.J Magnani, who is on her 4th career. After college, she became a high school and college teacher, obtained an M.S. & Ph.D., worked as a scientist, and then returned to medical school to become a pathologist. Now, writing fiction is her primary passion. 

The former Chair of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, MA, Dr. Magnani is currently Professor of Anatomic and Clinical Pathology/Professor of Medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine, and uses her knowledge of toxicology to create medical fiction.

And she has a new book out! Released today on Amazon.

Special bonus- The TEWKSBURY WRITING GROUP Hosts a chat- Writing Advice From BJ Magnani

MONDAY, APRIL 25, 7:00—8:30 PM

Link to register

Let's find out more...

Q. So how did this novel come to be? Was it envisioned from the start as a bigger canvas, or did it expand organically out of an idea? Please tell us a bit about the origin.

A. All my stories are inspired by events I find in the news that could create catastrophic problems for the world if set into motion—mass poisonings, threatening missile launches, and control of geopolitical resources. I find these scenarios much scarier than traditional horror stories. My stories are in the realm of global possibilities.

A Message in Poison is the third novel in the Dr. Lily Robinson series (The Queen of All Poisons, The Power of Poison) about a Boston physician who doubles as an assassin for the U.S. Government and completes Lily’s personal arc while taking on a new geopolitical mission.

Q. Did you start with the germ of an idea and start writing to see where it went, or did you map a good deal out in your head (or even outline) before crafting?

A. When I write, I start with an overview (all in my head) of what I would like the plot to be and what I would like to happen to the characters. Then I start writing and see where it takes me. I don’t always end up at the place I thought I would. 

Q. What do you feel is the main theme(s)?

A. The overlapping themes in the  Dr. Lily Robinson novels are whether ‘the end justifies the means’ and whether ‘the good of the many outweighs the good of the one.’ These create conflict in the protagonist.

Q. Why do you feel this is important, and what would you want a reader to take away from reading this book?

A. Most people face conflict in their lives. Not as extreme as my protagonist, but I hope they sympathize with the good doctor. Lily Robinson tries to rationalize her life as she struggles to move between assassin and healer—each job a way to save ‘the good of the many.’ With buried emotions, she views the world from a clinical perspective, propelled by her guilt over the loss of her daughter.

Q. What makes a good book or engaging story?

A. The reader needs to be invested in the characters. They can love them or hate them, cheer for their success or failure, but either way, the plot needs to take them to the finish line. 

Q. Are there writers with similar themes to yours? Who are your influences (can be writers, or even artists, musicians, or others) and what is it about their work that attracts you?

A. Michael Crichton was an influence on my writing. He was also a physician, and I admired his ability to research a subject, distill it for the audience, and make his stories suspenseful. Taking my medical knowledge and incorporating it into my stories allows me to use the novels for some science teaching. That makes it fun.

Q. Is storytelling mostly entertainment, or does it serve other functions? Do you have particular goals other than telling a good story?

A. Yes. I like to use part of my story as a vehicle for science education. I use real examples of medical cases I’ve worked on. While the story is fiction, some aspects are non-fiction. But in the end, it’s pure entertainment.

Q. Any other goals you’ve set for yourself, professionally or personally?

A. I believe learning is a lifelong adventure. I’ve wanted to experience new things during my life, and that’s why I’ve had several careers. There’s just so much to enjoy! 

Q. Some writers write fast and claim not to rewrite much. Do you do this, or painstakingly revise? When you send the book off to the publisher, are you happy with it, or just tired of it?

A. I tend to write in spurts. If I’m on a roll, I keep going. Other times, I just hope to meet a writing goal for the day. But I’m a notorious re-writer. I usually love the book while I’m writing, but I’m tired of it in the end.

Q. Do you have good editors, and if so, how do they help you? Do they look for particular things? Do you have different people for different editing levels?

A. I’m using more editors, not fewer, as I’ve written more books. Each one has different strengths, and that helps me.

Q. If a writer came to you for advice, how would you help?

A. It depends on what they would like to know. In general, write what you love and don’t try and chase trends that may already have come and gone. Read as much as you can: good readers make better writers. Join a community of like-minded souls who will guide you, read your work, and support your courage to put yourself out there.

Q. Stories can be told by using a different medium. Can you see your book as a film, audio, etc.? How would that alter the telling?

A. My books are definitely movies or a limited series. I’ve had many people tell me that the stories are very visual, and they can see the places and the action in their minds. So I’m hoping a producer is out there who will fall in love with my work and show the world a woman physician who is not only smart and savvy but a sometimes assassin. 

Q. What’s the next step in your writing world?

A. I enjoy writing the monthly poison blog posted on my website, and I’ve written another novel in a different genre to stretch my writing skills.

The Poison Blog 

Q. Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

A. I was a competitive equestrian from the time I was 8 years old until college. I had the privilege of riding and showing some of the best horses on the East Coast.

Q. Any other information you’d like to impart?

A. I would encourage interested readers to look at my website under MORE/COMING SOON for information on events that I will be attending. I have some Zoom and in-person events coming up, and I hope to see as many people as possible for lively discussion and book signings. 

Saturday, April 2, 2022

More news: publications, podcasts, and interviews!

Hello again- it's been a busy time- writing and submitting new stories, doing interviews and podcasts, and getting non-fiction pieces published.

So first, my interview on John Hoda's podcast My Favorite Detective Stories

Another interview with Doug Holder 

My article on Maine Mystery Writers is out in Mystery Reader's Journal

My columns on Writing and Independent publishing are in each issue of Killer Nashville Magazine

I was on a number of Bonnie Graham's podcasts on Technology Revolution: The Future of Now Radio. 

You can find them on Facebook or LinkedIn

and search on my name to bring up the various shows we did.

Latest Tewksbury Writer's Night Out, with guest Matt Cost. Contact Robert Hayes at the Tewksbury Library for information.