Beat the Reaper – Josh Bazell Interview
G’day, Josh. Or do you prefer Doctor Bazell? Damn. I think I just used up my first question.
What am I, an asshole? Call me whatever you want.
Your description of your character’s life as a resident in a big hospital rings horribly true, right down to sleep deprivation and 24/7 involvement. So how in five kinds of hell, as a resident yourself, did you ever find time to write a bloody novel?
I wrote a lot of the novel during my last year of medical school, which was a relatively easy stretch. And I have no life.
Sticking with the medical stuff for the moment: what do you think Doc Bearclaw would say to President Obama if he was asked what the new guy in the Big Chair can do to fix the medical system? Feel free to rant: after all, it’s Doc Bearclaw’s answer, right?
People can fight and scream, but the only way the US healthcare system is going to get fixed is by removing the profit parasites — namely the insurance and pharmaceutical industries — from the cash flow and reigning in the law suit industry. We can’t continue to have a system where the majority of American bankruptcies are caused by medical bills, typically medical bills the patient thought would be covered. The US needs a single payer insurance system, and that means government. The simplest fix for the influence of pharmaceutical corporations would be to eliminate advertising — to patients or doctos — as well as payments to doctors of any kind. If medications were judged on their provable merits, including relative to other, ie generic medications, an enormous amount of bad practice would be prevented.
Obviously anything like these solutions is difficult in a political system where politicians are owned by corporations. (Obama’s initial choice for Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Daschle — who only got flushed because he was discovered to be a tax evader — was taking more money from the healthcare industry than he would have made working sixty hours a week as a general practitioner.) But it would be nice.
“All martial arts… require you to fight like some kind of animal”. Hey — what, exactly is your martial background?
I studied judo as a kid, then later tae kwon do and kempo. But the biggest influence on my martial development was my aunt Wendi Dragonfire, whose (somewhat legendary) background is karate.
You’ve got a second novel under way. Are you bringing back the Bearclaw?
Yeah. I’ll bring him back as long as I can bankably do so. Then I’ll rent him out for ads for the pharmaceutical and insurance industries.
If I had to guess, I’d say this novel got started as Josh Bazell’s Escape Therapy. Did you find that diving into the writing process gave you a useful release from the medical mayhem?
Absolutely, but vice versa as well.
Uh huh. I know a Tuckerised character when I see one. Go on — you can tell us: who is Prof Marmoset in the real world?
Sorry, I don’t know what that means, and (writing tip for the kids) am not right now connected to the internet. Not sure I want to describe someone as Tuckerised and find out later that it’s actionable.
From Wikipedia (Bruce: We didn’t know what Dirk was talking about either)
Tuckerization is the act of using a person’s name in an original story as an in-joke (e.g. Mount Kirby in Kurt Busiek‘s Astro City comics). The term is derived from Wilson Tucker, an American science fiction writer and fanzine editor, who made a practice of using his friends’ names for minor characters in his stories. For example, Harry Harrison‘s To the Stars character: “Old Lundwall, who commands the Sverige, should have retired a decade ago, but he is still the best there is.” Sam J Lundwall is a well-known Swedish science fiction publisher and writer, as well as the godfather of Harrison’s daughter. A tuckerization can also be the use of a person’s character or personal attributes with a new name as an in-joke, such as Ian Arnstein in S.M. Stirling‘s Island in the Sea of Time trilogy, clearly modeled on his good friend Harry Turtledove, albeit an alternate history Turtledove. Many science fiction authors auction off tuckerizations at science fiction conventions with the proceeds going to charity.
Oh, and that sleep deprived guy that Doc Bearclaw found — the ‘Surgery Ghost’. He’s a Tuckerisation too, isn’t he?
Not that I wouldn’t like to know what Tuckerised means.
Are you going to keep up the doctoring if they start throwing the kind of money that Stephen King and JK Rowlings get at you?
Yep. And I stay awake nights worrying about the possibility.
Will you be terribly disappointed if I can’t think of a tenth question?
I probably will be anyway. But thanks for your interest.
Beat the Reaper is available from Amazon.com
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