The M.D. Writer-Mom
I’m happy to welcome doctor and award-winning mystery author Melissa Yuan-Innes aka Melissa Yi to the Second Act series. Today, Melissa shares her multi-act life and the Hope Sze Medical Mystery Series.
So far, I’m spinning three different careers simultaneously. I’m an emergency physician, which is my most stressful, high-stakes job. I’m a writer who professionally published her first short story and poem in medical school. And I, personally, wouldn’t feel complete without my children.
Medicine takes up the most real estate in my life. I was a perpetual student for a quarter century, memorizing facts, waking up at all hours of the night, and eventually making life and death decisions.
When I finally finished training in emergency medicine, I felt uneasy. I’d been shackled to a schedule, rotating from specialty to specialty and hospital to hospital, and now I could literally practice anywhere in the world, as long as I got the proper licensing and my husband agreed to it.
I told my friends, “It’s like the Simpsons episode where Homer goes up in space and smashes the terrarium, and as the ants go flying off in zero gravity, they’re chittering, ‘Freedom! Horrible, horrible freedom!’” Watch .
In my heart, though, I knew what I wanted to do. The same thing I’d wanted to do since I was five years old. I wanted to write.
For that, I needed time and energy. Since 24 hour shifts are not conducive to creativity, I had to limit my emergency shifts.
I said to my husband, “Now that I’ve graduated, I can finally make money. That’s what everyone else is doing. Is it crazy that I want to write?”
Matt is an engineer who takes emotions out of the equation. He basically said, “You went to school for so many years so that you can afford to write.” He has offered to support me if I want to write, but I never really considered it. I wanted to be my own patron of the arts, able to support myself, my family, and my writing.
It means that I’m a relatively impoverished doctor. One of my friends made fun of me because she made more in six months than I did in a year. I wish I were a more productive writer. And my kids constantly complain that I don’t spend enough time with them, and were quite piteous as they waved goodbye to me yesterday, as I drove through the ice to my evening shift.
On the other hand, I am happy. I can and did run last Saturday’s night shift—and CBC Books selected Human Remains (https://windtreepress.com/portfolio/human-remains/), my latest medical thriller, as their top mystery pick for their holiday gift guide (http://www.cbc.ca/books/10-books-for-those-mad-for-mysteries-on-your-list-1.4442631).
Where to find Melissa…
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Melissa, thank you for sharing your intriguing journey. I’m impressed by your work ethic and the number of books you have written. Best of luck in the future!
Intrigued by the author’s back story, I decided to read Code Blues, the first book in the Hope Sz Medical Mystery series. Captivated from the start, I found myself enmeshed in a medical drama that kept me up two nights in a row. From Ms. Li’s vivid descriptions, I could easily imagine the dilapidated Montreal hospital and the conflicted characters, who struggle with boundaries and relationships. The murder of a beloved doctor sets in motion a riveting narrative that takes many unexpected twists and turns. I continually second-guessed myself as I attempted to identify the murderer in this well-plotted, character-driven novel.