Saturday, April 05, 2014

Author Interview: Melissa Yuan-Innes: Terminally Ill: Third Book In Her Medical Mystery Series

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She has a very meaningful tagline – “I read, therefore I am”. She has been reading since her parents used to abandon her at the library.

When she was ten years old, they moved to Frankfurt, Germany, to a relative dearth of English books, and she started writing stories instead.

They moved back to Canada, and she started reading voraciously again, abandoning her pen and word processor for a few years before picking them up again. Nowadays, she reads and writes whenever she can, although her day/night jobs of emergency medicine and motherhood whisk her away regularly.

A very warm welcome to Melissa Yuan-Innes

About your education

Writing was my first love, but I decided to become an emergency doctor first and write during my time off. This works out as long as I have enough energy, which was not last week, when I caught a virus from one of my patients.

 When did you start writing? What is the purpose of your writing?

I've been writing since I could hold a crayon, but I got serious about telling stories when my family moved to Frankfurt, Germany, when I was ten years old, and I suddenly lost my access to lots of English-language libraries. So I started writing instead, especially since my friends (Hi, Kirsten!) and my teacher, Ms. Backus, urged me to keep it up.

When I was twelve, we moved back to Canada, and I mostly stopped writing until the summer before university, when my then-boyfriend, now-husband encouraged me to take a few months to write. To my surprise, I had trouble remembering "how" to write. Then my writing professor, Dr. Sylvia Bowerbank, assigned _Writing Down the Bones_, by Natalie Goldberg, which really helped me let loose.

Now I'd say the purpose of my writing is to have fun, challenge me, and connect me with people, places, and things that excite me.

Which of your work has been published so far? Would you like to share a synopsis of your work?

This month, I've released Terminally Ill (, the third book in my medical mystery series featuring Dr. Hope Sze. This one is fun because it's set on Hallowe'en. An escape artist chains and nails himself in a coffin and throws himself into Montreal's St. Lawrence River, but he never breaks free. So after Hope saves his life by restarting his heart, she ends up trying to solve who sabotaged his stunt.

I’m honoured to say that Terminally Ill was the Editor’s Pick on Kobo Next. I'm hosting a world-wide Goodreads giveaway until March 6th, 2014 ( 

What are your forthcoming writings?

I'm editing The Goa Yoga School of Slayers, a funny romp/cozy mystery set in Goa, India (and the sequel to The Italian School for Assassins ( I may need some help from your readers, since I've never been to India!

What are your future plans?

Writing-wise, I still have a lot of backlist to publish. I'm itching to break into audiobooks with my book, The Most Unfeeling Doctor in the World and Other True Tales from the Emergency Room (, which was just selected as a memoir on The Ultimate Reading List for Nurses
Personally, I'd like to travel with my family in the future. My daughter is finally out of diapers, which means we're more mobile.

Your dream destination on Earth?

I have dozens of dream destinations. Many countries and cultures in Africa and South-East Asia beckon to me. I only wish that flying didn't cause so many CO2 emissions.

Your favorite book and why?

I don't have one favourite book, because there are so many brilliant ones, but the most impressive one I've read recently is The Orenda, by Joseph Boyden.

A quickie: Sun or Moon

I'm a big fan of photosynthesis and survival, so I'll vote for the sun, although Susan Beth Pfeffer made a case that we'd have trouble surviving without the moon in her Moon Crash series. In yoga, though, I was always more attracted to moon salutations than sun salutations. So I'd have to say both!

State your signature line/ tagline/ best quote

I write mostly about smart outsiders who win. And I care a lot about the earth and animals. So I like Martin Luther King Jr.'s quote, 'The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.'

The last line of your autobiography would be…

No idea, but I'd like to convey the idea that I worked hard and laughed a lot. 

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