Today I welcome Partners in Crime: J.J. Lamb and Bette Golden Lamb. Bette Golden Lamb, a feisty ex-Bronxite, writes crime novels and plays with clay. Her sculptures and other artistic creations appear in exhibitions, galleries, and stores. She also hangs out with her 50+ rose bushes, or sneaks out to movies when she should be writing. Being an RN is a huge clue as to why she writes medical thrillers. J. J. Lamb intended to become an aeronautical engineer/pilot, but was seduced by journalism. An AP career was interrupted by the Army, which gave him a Top Secret clearance; a locked room with table, chair, and typewriter; and the time to write short stories. A paperback PI series followed, then collaboration with Bette. The Lambs, who live in Northern California, have co-authored four medical thrillers - Bone Dry, Sisters in Silence, Sin & Bone, and Bone Pit - and a suspense-adventure-romance novel, Heir Today. They are members of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. Website: www.twoblacksheep.us
J.J. LAMB and BETTE GOLDEN LAMB:
There’s a story behind the story about the publication last month of Bone Pit, our third co-authored RN Gina Mazzio medical thriller.
You see, when we wrote the first Gina book, Bone Dry, we were determined that it would be a standalone. It was our first published collaborative novel, and our plan was to keep writing standalones. The idea of getting involved in a series just didn’t appeal to either of us. Much too restrictive.
What we envisioned was to alternate between a Bette idea and a J.J. idea. That way we would know automatically whose name would come first on the front cover of each novel, and elsewhere. No hassles.
It was a good idea … that lasted through the first two books.
Our second book, Heir Today…, a combination suspense-adventure-romance novel, was based on an actual experience we’d had with an heir tracer.
We decided our protagonists would be a husband-wife team, both journalists, and that the plot would be built around a rogue maritime sea captain and a treasure hunt that turns into an international adventure of intrigue, courage, death, and revenge.
J. J. took the lead on this one because of his background as a journalist, and his several years of writing about the maritime industry.
There we were: two books on the shelf with each of us having a lead byline.
Bette, an RN, was now hot to do another medical thriller. But while she was busy looking for a theme, J.J. talked her into building a thriller around the thriving fertility industry. Bette then created an off-the-wall fertility counselor with a deadly mission to carry the book. For some reason, though, J.J.’s name ended up first on the cover.
The byline thing wasn’t a big deal by now. But early on, it might have been.
The collaboration thing was a new experience for J.J., who’d always flown solo for both fiction and non-fiction. And for the feisty ex-Bronxite, fiction writing was new to her despite a huge creative streak that produced numerous professional paintings and sculptures.
To get into the swing of writing collaboration, we tried a number of approaches, including writing alternate chapters, adopting certain characters, specializing in specific situations, and various combinations of these. The best approach worked out to be one where the “concept” person writes the first draft, with close consultation on plot development and characterizations coming from the other partner. Then we swap places for the second draft.
The final version comes from sitting down side by side at the key board and going through the entire ms., from the first word to the final period.
Despite our satisfaction with the three standalones, we missed Gina Mazzio, our very first protagonist … and so did many of our readers. A sequel to Bone Dry? Well why not. But a series? No way.
In that first book, Gina’s nemesis was a despicable couple who were stealing, and holding for ransom, autologous bone marrow used as a treatment for near-death cancer patients.
In our “sequel,” Sin & Bone, Gina starts delving into the mysterious disappearance of hospital nurses. Before anyone can yell “stat,” she’s caught up in the dangerous, and often deadly, trade in human body parts.
And we were hooked.
Now, in the recently released Bone Pit, Gina decides that after two attempts on her life, it’s time to take a much-needed break from hospital nursing. So off she goes on a travel nurse assignment with her travel nurse fiancé, Harry.
But there’s no vacation for her in the wilds of northern Nevada’s gold country. They uncover a plot by the administrator of the Alzheimer’s rehab facility to falsify clinical test results for an experimental drug scheduled for FDA approval.
Suddenly it’s medicine, mines, madness, and murder.
And there it was: the third Gina Mazzio medical thriller. A series?
Never say never!
We’re now collaborating on the fourth book.