Joining me today is well known podcaster and author, Jamie Davis, who takes being a paramedic to a whole new level in his urban fantasy ‘Extreme Medical Services’ series. Thank you, Jamie, for taking the time to chat to me. Please sit down, get comfortable and let’s begin.
About Jamie Davis
Jamie Davis, RN, NRP, B.A., A.S., host of the Nursing Show (NursingShow.com) is a nationally recognized medical educator who began educating new emergency responders as a training officer for his local EMS program. As a media producer, he has been recognized for the MedicCast Podcast (MedicCast.com), a weekly program for emergency medical providers like EMTs and paramedics, and the Nursing Show, a similar program for nurses and nursing students. His programs and resources have been downloaded over 6 million times by listeners and viewers.
Jamie lives in a home in the woods in Maryland with his wife, three children, and dog.
Which book would you like to talk about?
Extreme Medical Services (Book 1)
Tell us a bit about your book
New paramedic Dean Flynn is fresh out of the academy. When he gets assigned to the unknown backwater ambulance Station U, he wonders what he did wrong. Then Dean learns that his patients aren’t your normal 911 callers.
Dean and his partner Brynne Garvey serve the creatures of myth and legend living alongside their normal human neighbors in Elk City. With patients that are vampires, werewolves, fairies and more, will Dean survive his first days on the new job? Will his patients?
Come along on this ride with “Extreme Medical Services” – part one of the series by the same name, a paranormal medical thrill-ride with the paramedics of Elk City. Described by one fan as “like Grimm, but with paramedics” this book is brought to you by best-selling author and real-life paramedic Jamie Davis. He crafts a book called an accurate, interesting, & fabulous page-turner.
If there was a film or TV adaptation of your book, who would you like to see play your characters?
Chris Pratt as paramedic Dean Flynn
Amy Adams as senior paramedic Brynne Garvey
Dennis O’Leary as Dean’s mentor Mike Farver
Ian Somerhalder as Brynne’s vampire boyfriend James Lee
Eric Stonestreet as comic foil vampire Gibbie Proctor
How important are character names to you in your books? Is there a special meaning to any of the names?
I selected names for some of the peripheral characters to give a nod to people I respect and admire. For my main characters, I chose names that resonated with me for one reason or another. The main character, Dean Flynn had a name change after my wife asked for his name to be changed from the original (Jerry). She’s the boss, so Dean it is.
Give us an insight into your main character. What makes them unique?
Dean is a young paramedic, fresh out of the academy so he has to struggle with his feelings of inferiority being thrown out into the real world to treat real patients for the first time. Of course, Dean has the added challenge of finding out he’s been assigned to treat patients from the paranormal underworld in his city. His supervisor, Brynne Garvey doesn’t want to break in a new probie in the job, which also leads to some early conflicts between the two of them.
If you could choose ten words to describe your book, what would they be?
fresh, intriguing, thrilling, surprises, mythical, supernatural, comic, emotional, realistic, medical
Where do your ideas come from?
Dean’s approach to caring for his unusual patients ultimately comes from my experiences as a paramedic on the ambulance for years. While no real patient is represented in the books, the scenarios will be familiar to anyone with an emergency or medical background. In addition to that, I often find situations in the world around me find their ways into my books to confront Dean and his companions.
What do you think of book trailers? Do you have a trailer or do you intend to create one for your own book?
I’m not a big fan of book trailers, probably because I don’t watch them myself. I think if they’re done very well, they might have an impact, but the authors I know who’ve used them have had mixed results when compared to the money or effort put into them. Based on that, I’m not planning on doing a book trailer anytime soon.
What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?
For me, my marriage and my kids. Without my family, I’d not be the person I am today. I owe a great deal to my wife’s patience with my artistic and creative pursuits. Her continued support humbles me. And don’t get me started on my kids. They make me proud every day with their accomplishments and endeavors.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In ten years, I see myself with five or six successful series in several fantasy genres. I like to read in multiple genres and I think my readers would like to follow me on that journey as well. I’d also like to be in a position to give back to my local community and to the online community who have supported my work along the way. I love mentoring young paramedics and nurses now and would like to add budding authors to that group, too.
Have you always liked to write?
My mother recently sent me a box with a collection of things from my school days she’d been holding on to for years. In the box were several creative stories I wrote back in third and fourth grade. In addition to that, I don’t just consider myself a writer, rather I see myself as a storyteller. I’ve always told fun stories to pass the time, whether they were strictly true or embellished. I think that is where my writing drive comes from today.
What writing advice do you have for aspiring authors?
It’s cliche but just do it. Many will tell you it has to be this or has to be that. Who knows some of them might even be right. In the end, it doesn’t matter. Write for yourself and then share it with the world.
If you didn’t like writing books, or weren’t any good at it, what would you like to do for a living?
I would be a full-time nurse and educator instead of the part-time dabbler I am today. I truly love the work and caring for my patients. There’s nothing as special in the world as a good nurse is. Remember that and thank a nurse you know.
Do you read reviews of your book(s)? Do you respond to them, good or bad? How do you deal with the bad?
I do read my reviews. The positive ones are uplifting and the negative ones can be instructional. I actually celebrate via my social media channels whenever I get a one-star review. Most of them are from trolls and aren’t worth the keyboard time it took to write them but they are an indication of your success. Remember, nobody tries to trip up the runner in second place so if a troll took the time to rip you in a review, it’s for a reason.
It’s the two and three-star reviews I find most helpful. These are readers who didn’t like a certain aspect of the book for one reason or another. I don’t always follow their advice but in the early days, I think some of the advice in those reviews helped improve my writing.
What is your best marketing tip?
Write more (good) books! It sounds overly simple, I know. In the beginning especially, though, your best advertisement is another book on the bookshelf. It improves the chances for readers to find you exponentially. I do spend time building an email list and other essential things every indie and traditional author should be doing but at the end of the day, I always take time to write fresh words. They are what keeps the reader coming back.
What is your least favourite part of the writing / publishing process?
Editing! Oh my God, the editing is the part I absolutely dread. But, as is often said, writing is re-writing. You have to do it and it’s the only way to make a book better aside from having a good story idea to begin with.
Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?
So-called active romance is a subject or genre I don’t think I’ll delve into anytime soon. Mostly because I’d suck at it (no pun intended). That said, I think books are a great way to tackle difficult subjects in non-threatening ways. My Extreme Medical Services tackles some difficult healthcare issues facing the country but it’s totally in the background and usually, only other healthcare pros pick up on it. My series also deals with topics like racism and bigotry through the actions and interactions of the characters. I think this is an important role for fiction in our lives.
Do you have a favourite conference / convention that you like to attend? What is it?
I’m a big fan of the Smarter Artist Summit put on the by the guys who run the Self Publishing Podcast. It’s a great community to be a part of and I always learn a ton when I hang out with that crowd.
Is there a certain type of scene that’s harder for you to write than others?
Intimate sex scenes are my kryptonite but sometimes they are necessary to drive the story. so, I write them and then have my wife read them to make sure they are appropriate to the story but have enough passion getting the point across.
How long does it usually take you to write the first draft of a book?
I usually crank out a first draft in twenty to thirty days depending on the length. I write 3,000 to 4,000 words a day so you can do the math.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on a second Urban Fantasy Series in conjunction with writer Sean Platt. It is a collaborative venture, but with him guiding the story from the background and most of the story juice coming from me. It’s been a fascinating experience and I think it’s improved my story-telling immensely. The story is planned for five books and is scheduled to debut this summer 2017.
Can you give us a few tasty morsels from your work-in-progress?
I’m working on a second Urban Fantasy Series in conjunction with writer Sean Platt. It is a collaborative venture, but with him guiding the story from the background and most of the story juice coming from me. It’s been a fascinating experience and I think it’s improved my story-telling immensely. The story is planned for five books and is scheduled to debut this summer 2017.Winnie followed Cricket into the other room. Inside there was a giant metal desk strewn with papers and folders, a few chairs in front of the desk and one larger one behind it, and a large, flat-screen TV. Nothing else.
A tall man with a shaved head stood in front of the TV, his back to them. He was broad-shouldered and muscular. Massive arms bulged from his short-sleeved bowling shirt. He was engrossed in something on the TV and didn’t turn when they entered. He waved to shush them.
“… There are few reports coming in so far, but it appears that some sort of massive natural disaster has occurred in Boston. We are unable to reach our affiliate station or any local authorities by phone or video conference. National response agencies are rushing resources there to try and get to the bottom of whatever is happening. We’ll have more details as they come. Again, some sort of natural disaster has struck Boston and severed all communication with the city. Stay tuned for details.”
The big man picked up a remote control and muted the audio.
Do you have any unique or quirky writing habits?
I like writing with the twenty-four-hour news on in the background. I know some artists listen to music, but I like music too much and I find myself singing along or tapping my fingers to the song playing. With the constant drone of the news on in the background, I get a lot done.
How has your environment or upbringing impacted your writing?
It’s coloured it a lot. I’ve written about things that are important to me in my life to share some semblance of my experiences with the readers.
Describe what your ideal writing space looks like.
I write on a laptop using a lap desk in an easy chair. That’s my writing space at home. Because I travel a lot, I do a lot of writing on the road and then I just write at whatever desk I can find.
Why should a potential reader buy your book(s)?
Based on my reviews, I think readers will like my books because they are a twist on the normal paranormal and urban fantasy genres. In my books, the humans can be the monsters as often as the creatures who live alongside them.
What’s the strangest thing you have ever had to research for your book?
I write books with a medical twist so I’m always verifying some medical procedure or medication. As a paramedic and nurse, nothing bothers me more than when a book, or TV show, or movie gets the medicine wrong. It’s so easy to ask someone who to get it right and yet they just don’t get it. I try and avoid that so I double check everything, even stuff I KNOW I know. As for the strangest thing — I once looked up to see if you could purchase sunscreen and glitter make-up in one tube. Vampires who want to sparkle in the sun need protection you know.
What’s something you’re really good at that few people know about?
I play bass in my church’s praise band and I love to play obscure jazz riffs during popular praise songs and see if anyone notices them. Occasionally a person will pick up on it. It’s fun.
What’s an interesting fact about your book?
The first book in the series was originally intended to be a sort of experimental textbook to teach paramedics some knowledge and skills in a narrative format. That’s why it has so much medical jargon in it. Later books in the series don’t lean that heavily on the medicine.
Why did you choose to write in your genre? If you write in more than one, how do you balance them?
I have always read fantasy and science fiction so I knew I’d start writing in one of those two genres. I chose Urban and Paranormal Fantasy because I was watching a popular paranormal TV series with my daughters and I wondered what would happen if any of the main characters ever needed to call an ambulance. That was the birth of the Extreme Medical Services series.
Where did your love of books come from?
My parents always read to me so it started there but it became a true love of mine when I spent most my summers at the local library pouring through every single book they had in fantasy and science fiction. I would sit in the library and read until they closed and then I would go home and come back the next day to do it again. It was an important time in my life.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing creatively since I was a little kid, probably second or third grade. I had a very active imagination and several teachers steered me in that direction early on.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
If I were to give myself a piece of advice it would be to stop procrastinating and start writing the stories floating in my head sooner. Nothing ventured is truly nothing gained and I could have so many more stories out there if I’d started writing them down years ago.
What would the main character in your book have to say about you?
I’d like to think paramedic Dean Flynn would look upon me as a role model. I’ve always tried to treat every patient as if they were a member of my own family. It hasn’t always been easy and I didn’t always succeed, but I tried and that is the most important thing in life. I just keep trying to do better the next time.
Do you have a day job in addition to being a writer? If so, what do you do during the day?
I’m a full-time medical journalist. So, I’m still a writer, just not fiction all the time. I travel to conferences around the country and interview keynote speakers and researchers and publish the articles and video interviews online on my podcast channels.
Of all the characters you have created, which is your favourite and why?
I think Ashley Moore would be my favorite. She’s an angel (though in my books, they are called Eldara) and she travels throughout the world and through time helping nurses and other healers throughout history. I liked the concept so much she became the central figure of my first spinoff series in the book, “The Nightingale’s Angel.”
Are your characters based on real people, are they imaginary or a combination of both?
Most are a combination of real and imaginary people though a few peripheral characters represent people in my life I respect a great deal and wanted to immortalize in some way through my books.
When you’re writing, do you listen to music or do you need silence?
I think I already answered this one. I need some background noise but music distracts me too much. I listen to the cable news channel turned down to a murmur while I write in the early morning.
Who are your favourite authors, and why?
David Weber and Robert Jordan are my favorites, primarily because they create intriguing characters I come to care about while reading their books. I think this is important and helps readers become more engaged with both your books and with you as an author.
What’s the best thing about being an indie author?
I love controlling the pace of my writing for myself. Readers want books faster than traditional publishers turn them out and we owe that to them. I’m also a serial entrepreneur and wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I weren’t self-employed.
What do you find most challenging about writing?
The discipline required to be an author or even self-employed in general is sometimes difficult to wrestle with. You have to treat it like a job or you’ll never get your drafts and editing completed.
Who gets to read your books first?
My wife gets first dibs on my books. I don’t give them to her until the second draft stage but she always comes back to me with important input about my stories that makes them better. Best Beta Reader Ever!
Available formats: ebook, paperback