One of my favorite things about writing is that it allows me to dabble in any profession I choose. Even as a journalist, I had the opportunity to peek into the world of other people whether they were doctors, teachers, quilters. It didn’t matter because every day I spoke with new people and had the opportunity to learn about their careers and their lives.
Now when I write, the characters are fictitious, but I still get to learn about their world and about their jobs, which is endlessly fascinating to me. I’ve always enjoyed learning, and in school, there weren’t many subjects that didn’t intrigue me.
A little over a month ago, I had the pleasure of attending a lecture at Colorado State University (CSU). I went to listen to one of my favorite thriller authors Douglas Preston. He has collaborated with Lincoln Child on a number of books, including a series with the fictional character Aloysius Pendergast that began with the book “Relic.”
The lecture I attended had to do with his new non-fiction book “The Lost City of the Monkey God.” Here’s the book blurb from the novel:
For five hundred years, legends have told of an ancient, lost city hidden in the Honduran rainforest—a place so sacred that those who dared disturb it would fall ill and die.
In 2012, Douglas Preston joined a team of scientists on their quest to find the White City, climbing aboard a rickety plane whose historic flight would change everything. Using a space-age technology that could map terrain under the densest jungle canopy, that flight revealed tantalizing evidence of not just a city but an entire lost civilization. But when the expedition finally reached the ruins, battling torrential rains and venomous snakes in the world’s densest jungle, tragedy struck: Preston and others contracted a mysterious—and incurable—disease.
The Lost City Of The Monkey God is the true, eyewitness account of one of the great discoveries of the twenty-first century—a story of ancient curses, modern technology, a vanished culture, and a stunning medical mystery.
As a special treat, the expedition’s chief archaeologist Chris Fisher is a professor at CSU and was on hand to discuss some of the more scientific elements of their discovery.
I sat in the first row of a steep classroom amphitheater with a huge overhead screen that I had to crane my neck to view, but luckily there were two flatscreen TVs mounted to the wall that I could easily view as they showed videos of their trip, along with maps and photographs illustrating their journey and findings.
In some of his thrillers, Douglas Preston has archaeologists as characters, and one of the things I appreciated about those books was that a subject matter that could become dry and boring with an overload of information always came across in interesting, bite-size pieces of information. As a reader, I found myself intrigued by the occupation and learning things that I didn’t know about archaeology.
So while I sat in the audience and listened, I was captivated by the thrill and mystery of this long lost city and their search for it. And time and time again, I found myself thinking, this is why I love my job. I love learning, I love being immersed in the subject, professions, and research that comes before me while preparing for and writing a novel. And I love listening to other authors express their passion, not just for writing, but about the way they’re experiencing the world in preparation to write something.
Are there professions that you’ve had a chance to dabble in with your writing? If not, how does your current profession come into play in your writing? It’s not uncommon for authors to write about a field in which they spent a good chunk of their life working. Is there an author you enjoy who writes fiction that deals with their profession outside of writing? An author who comes to mind who was one of my favorite authors in high school is Robin Cook, a doctor who writes medical thrillers.