R.V. Doon

Burn Out!

On my last post, I described a few things needed to make a cozy mystery sleuth lovable. Someone recently asked me how I selected Reece Carson for my sleuth in The Text-A-Nurse Series.

What? You want me to confess?

Okay, the lone fan deserves an honest answer.

Burnout.

Here’s what happened: One day on a critical care unit after several patients took turns trying to die on us, a nurse everyone loved, quit. She couldn’t take the pressure of facing another shift. I remember feeling so bad over her resignation. She helped make the unit a great place to work. I hated to see her go, but I knew she wasn’t coming back after a few days off.

I asked what her plans were.

She said, “I want to start a small personable home health care business that teaches people to be healthy, so they don’t end up here.”

I can still see her tear-stained face. Honestly, every nurse with experience has reached a similar breaking point, including me. But she’s my role model for Reece. A bruised nurse, not giving up on being a nurse, but one willing to take on a new role and major lifestyle change. I wanted a sleuth on the comeback trail and not in her comfort zone.

Readers of Body Wave will remember Reece quit her job in critical care to care for a beloved, dying aunt at home. Reece was burned out, overworked, and depressed. Her aunt makes a death-bed confession and solving the mystery pulls her out of the cycle of stress. Her home health care business springs from watching her aunt, a former nurse, care for her aging neighbors.

The hard part is helping the reader understand a nurse sleuth recovering from burnout. Hospitals are like tiny cities within a community. Nurses walk out into the moonlight and blink in amazement at how time passed. I’m not sure non-healthcare workers understand how isolating the hospital environment is. No one gets off work on time. Patients and visitors are scared and worried. Hospital workers face stress every single hour of their shift. The stressors are too numerous to list, but the big one is making a mistake that could hurt someone.

To me, leaving the hospital to fly solo as an entrepreneur was a symbol of freedom for this character. A new life, a new job, a new man–Reece stumbled because she’s unfamiliar with the normal world. Her emotions surprise her. She’s kept them locked up for years. In hospitals, nurses learn to keep their feelings under tight control as a survival technique. That doesn’t mean their emotionless; no, they have to be careful. They can’t break down and cry with “every” patient.

The real question is do readers like Reece Carson? I’ll find out as I expand the series. I’d like to thank the readers for their support. Thank You!

Readers, what’s your opinion on your favorite sleuths?  What makes them lovable?

Please join my new book release notification! Don’t miss Body Magnet Book 3 in the Text-A-Nurse Series. It’s in the pipeline!

 

 

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