Aspiring writers eat your heart out.
Susi Fox’s first novel Mine has been picked up by Michael Joseph (Penguin) and her agent has recently sold the book’s film rights.
Easy? Well not quite. Fox has been working on her psychological thriller for six years while studying for her Associate Degree in Professional Writing and Editing at RMIT, as well as working in central Victoria as a general practitioner and keeping her family on the road.
“I’m working three days a week as a GP and two days a week writing,” she said. Time management, clearly, is everything.
Fox’s first novel Mine centres around a new mother, Sasha, who instinctively knows the staff at the hospital have given her the wrong baby.
Fox’s character, Sasha, is a doctor who is well aware that hospital staff can make mistakes. Yet nobody believes her, including her husband.
While Sasha insists that she has been given the wrong baby, the hospital’s response is to recommend she be sent to the psychiatric wing of the hospital.
It’s good, nail biting reading. Written in the first person, the novel’s protagonist is cast as the unreliable narrator. Her story at times is both plausible and yet troubling.
Where the truth lies and the nature of good and evil are significant strands which are intelligently explored in Fox’s novel.
Writers who view life through the unique lens of medicine are becoming a distinct cohort. Other doctors who enjoy writing include Leah Kaminsky, Jacinta Halloran and Peter Goldsworthy.
Fox says practising medicine put her in an excellent position as a writer.
“You are always hearing stories from your patients and from other doctors. Not that I’d use any of my patient’s stories.”
The genesis of Mine in fact came from a dream.
“While studying writing we were encouraged to keep dream journals.
“I remembered one distinctly haunting dream where I was holding a baby in my arms and telling people it wasn’t mine.
“But nobody believed me.
“I think this is a fear very common to new mothers.
“Even women who are given the wrong baby to feed are traumatised by the experience.”
While her two careers complement each other, for Fox, writing is her absolute passion.
Fox is already hard at work on her second book“I don’t think I’ve watched TV in years,” Fox said, laughing.
But you get the sense this is no great sacrifice for the doctor so in love with the written word.
– Dianne Dempsey