Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Back in the High Life Again: Guest post by Robert Greer

Robert Greer, M.D. is the author of thirteen novels. He is best known for his mysteries featuring African American, Denver-based bail bondsman and bounty hunter, CJ Floyd. In February, Mysterious Press re-released most of the CJ Floyd backlist in handsomely redesigned e-books. His forthcoming CJ Floyd novel is CHUGWATER BLUES. Some people take time off from their day job to tour the continent, bike across Europe, travel the middle passage, or perhaps attempt to visit every baseball stadium, national park, or major city in the US. Others simply take off. A few, like Robert Greer, take time off from their night job (writing novels) to finish a day job project. 


For four decades and counting, I have had a day job that can be pretty all consuming. Unlike Alan Alda, in his current TV Doctors of America public service promo for healthcare, for over forty years I have had the privilege of playing doctor for real. To make matters worse, or better, depending on how you look at it, I’ve played that role in an academic medical setting.

So, when my day job publisher, Cambridge University Press, suggested that it was time for me to rewrite one of my pathology textbooks, and made me a kind of Marlon Brando, Godfather “academic medicine” offer I couldn’t refuse, what could I possibly do? Their offer wasn’t an artistically incentivized one, the kind that might come with my night job, and it certainly wasn’t greatly monetarily incentivized (you don’t get paid much for writing medical textbooks). The offer was instead bolstered by the old academic saw, “publish or perish.” However, after 159 scientific publications and three medical textbooks, I am at the stage in my medical career where that old saw doesn’t mean very much. So I initially shrugged their offer off. However, some of the faculty members in my department, immensely talented individuals and also valued prior contributors to the textbook, are not at the same point in their careers. So with that in mind, you might say the game was afoot.

Now, three and a half years, 2,000 manuscript pages and 1,500 illustrations later, as Steve Winwood so aptly put it in his 1986 hit song, “I’m Back in The High Life Again.” Back to novel writing and that night job I so much enjoy and terribly missed. Back to penning the exploits of bail bondsman and bounty hunter, CJ Floyd.

Here’s a little secret that I’ll reveal to you. Well, perhaps it’s not really that much of a secret since I’ve shared it with others. During my three and a half year hiatus from mystery novel writing, I cheated on Cambridge University Press; but only just a little bit. Nine months before my pathology textbook was due to the publisher, I won’t tell you the textbook title, (Google it, if you like), I’d had enough molecular biology, cancer therapeutics, diagnostic paradigm imperatives, disease causation postulates, and rivers of medical jargon coursing through my veins, that I had to find either that rabbit hole Alice climbed into for relief, or drift off into writing Never-Never-Land. So I pulled CJ Floyd off the shelf, dusted off a cadre of his Denver sidekicks, killed off someone, and sent CJ and friends chasing off after the bad guys in my new mystery novel, CHUGWATER BLUES.

In CHUGWATER BLUES, CJ’s partner in his bail bonding business, Desert Storm veteran and former Marine Corp intelligence operative, Flora Jean Benson, is devastated by the recent death of the love of her life, one time Marine Corp General, Alden Grace. Down in the dumps, Flora Jean takes a leave of absence at a remote Wyoming ranch. However, the clandestine world that she and Alden were once a part of catches up to her. Slower than he once was and a bit worse for wear, CJ rushes to help Flora Jean out, drawing himself and his street-smart buddies into a conspiracy that stretches from wind-blown Wyoming to the war torn Middle East.

You can find out what happens to CJ, Flora Jean, and friends in CHUGWATER BLUES, hopefully by year’s end. That’s unless, of course, you’d rather read PEDIATRIC HEAD AND NECK PATHOLOGY. Darn, I didn’t intend to mention that name. Guess it was just a day job slip-up, which I can assure you my friends, is in no way malpractice.

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