Tuesday, September 03, 2013


One of the fringe benefits to contributing a short story for The Mammoth Book of ER Romance was finding out just how many of my fellow authors in the anthology were also soap fans.  First, Patti Shenberger confessed to basing her hero on a Days of Our Lives hunk, and now Lynne Marshall takes us behind the scenes of hospital life and reminds us of Port Charles' original nurse heroine, Jessie Brewer (though the stories she tells put me more in mind of Amy Vining)!  Check out her guest post below and see if you can guess why....

Soap Opera in the ER
By Lynne Marshall

The most famous TV soap I know is General Hospital.  It first aired April 1, 1963 and twelve-thousand-   I remember spending summer vacations getting hooked into the plot line.  Who can forget the super couple Luke and Laura and their wedding?  The Quartermaines, The Spencers, or the most famous nurse of all, Jessie Brewer.
Six-hundred plus episodes later, in my opinion, it still rules the day.

Having worked in a hospital for over twenty years as first a medical transcriber and then an RN, before moving on to the clinic setting for the last ten years of my medical career, I am here to testify that the hospital is a perfect setting for soap opera stories.  Hospital grapevine runs deep and intricately throughout the floors.  While busily caring for patients, the doctors and nurses, technicians and aides keep track of each others’ comings and goings. If you’re wondering who so and so is dating, all you have to do is ask and if this one doesn’t know, they’ll know someone else who can find out.  If you think a certain x-ray technician is cheating with the new ward secretary, just ask one of the LVNs!  News travels fast in the hospital.

When I was given the opportunity to participate in The Mammoth Book of ER Romance anthology, I asked a question that would have permeated the entire hospital from top floor downward: Can two ER doctors ever forget what happened IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE, forgive each other and finally move on?

The tragic news that leads up to the beginning of my story would have swarmed through the hospital grapevine. People would have gasped and cried.  Ellen and Adam Deeds, both doctors, were highly respected professionals and the perfect family…until…

I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but drama is the key to any good soap, and I went the dramatic route with this story.  I tortured my characters by asking these questions: What one thing could tear a loving couple apart and make forgiving seem impossible?  What one thing could make Adam, a man devoted to his family, profession, and wife, turn to drinking and lose hope?  What would it take for Ellen to finally forgive Adam and let him back into her heart? 

I was limited by word count and decided that a slice of life could be sampled in three chapters.  The first chapter shows the reader how intense Ellen and Adams’ relationship is.  The second chapter lays all the tragic details on the line and forces Ellen, Adam and the reader to examine them.  And the third chapter turns the tables on the couple to drive home a point that Ellen had overlooked.  Finally she understands how one blink of an eye can change a life forever, and her hardened heart opens once again.

If you can’t get enough soap opera in your life, I hope you’ll pick up The Mammoth Book of ER Romance written by an international list of authors. You’ll be able to enjoy a story on your lunch break at school or work, or before you go to bed each night for seventeen days! 


Lynne Marshall writes contemporary romance for Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance, and Harlequin Special Edition lines and loves to hear from readers.  Visit her website: www.lynnemarshall.com or become her friend on Facebook to keep up with all the latest news.



Cynthia D'Alba said...

I used to watch General Hospital growing up too! Wasn't there a nurse on there named Audrey? Wasn't she the multi-married one? The nurse that married every doctor?

I never worked in a private hospital. All my nursing practice was at a couple of university hospital settings. (Un of Arkansas Medical Science and UT Memphis.) And OMG! What a grapevine of gossip and YES! on the soap opera environment. What went on in those sleeping rooms is a thing of legends.

Great blog! Happy release day to all of us in Mammoth Book of ER Romance. :)

Abbi said...

Hospitals are still a serious gossip zone. TBH, sometimes I don't like it. Especially when I'm the object of the gossip.

I seriously want to write a book, set in a medical setting, but with a Dallas-style world. Does that make sense?

Abbi :-)

Abbi said...

And, yes, happy release day to everyone!

Abbi :-)

Lynne Marshall said...

Hi Cynthia, yes Audrey! I remember her well.

I'm glad you agree about hospital grapevines for all the gos.


And Abbi - I totally get your idea of a Dallas (the TV show) styled medical drama. Go for it!

Christine London said...

Ah, the drams. Yes! I was a dyed in the wool All My Children fan--until I began writing romance. And then all I had learned at AMC got transferred to the angst on the page.

Funny how soaps have meant so much to so many and influenced us all. Especially the hospital setting. Such a petrie (sp?) dish of drama..lol.

Great post, Lynne :)

Lynne Marshall said...

Hi Christine - I like your analogy - the hospital is a petri dish of drama! (I had to look up the spelling, LOL)

I was shocked when I first met my husband 32 years ago and he was hooked on All My Children. Then I got hooked too!

Robena Grant said...

I've never been a soap opera watcher, mainly because I never turn the TV on during the day unless I'm pedaling away on the bike. But I have a lot of friends who make their appointments around their viewing time.

Having worked ten years post grad as an R.N. I understand how fast news/gossip travels, and seriously, I think there is nothing faster than a hospital grapevine. And what about the linen closets? *wink wink*

Amy Andrews said...

I've had varying levels of addictions to soaps over the years but never got into GH. Certsinly hospital life is ripe for such plot lines though. I've worked in hospitals all my working life and some of the rumours you hear.... Oh la la. I laughed at the linen closet, Roben. Two nurses I kow once did the biz in the pan room!!

Sue MacKay said...

I admit to not being a soap fan, mainly because I don't get contol of the TV remote very often! But I can believe the rumors, having spent many years working in the med laboratory.

Lynne Marshall said...

Hi Robena,

Thanks for making me laugh. I'm quite sure I've used the linen room for some key scenes in books before. Never from personal experience you understand. wink wink


Lynne Marshall said...

Ah Amy - I remember a nurse losing her job over such hanky-panky, and I got really ticked off because the resident only got spoken to!

Lynne Marshall said...

Hi Sue - Yes, I know for a fact the hospital laboratory is part of the grapevine. They always send people up to draw blood or pick up specimens etc. They are a good source of info travel, right?

thanks for stopping in, especially as you are also one of the authors in Mammoth book of ER Romance.

Fiona Lowe said...

Lynne, I've never watched General Hospital but I have been addicted to a few different medical TV shows but Australian and American ones. We also had a dreadful soap called 'The Young Doctors' when I was a kid. The nurses'skirts were so short I'm not sure how they managed to move!

Samanthe Beck said...

Oh, I was hard-core addicted to GH. Just to sound young, I will admit to rushing home from elementary school to catch the latest installment of Luke and Laura and hunky Robert Scorpio, and, of course the evil Cassedine! So good!

I think I could use a little dose of hospital drama. Will have to check out the Mammoth Book of ER Romance!

Lynne Marshall said...

Too Funny Fiona - I remember having a nursing uniform at the top of my knee, but I always preferred wearing the nursing pants for all the bending over beds.
Did the guys walk around with their doctors shirts open? LOL.

Thanks for popping by, and I'm sure Mammoth Books loves that you contributed to the anthology.

Lynne Marshall said...

Hi Sam!
Grammar school addition to GH? Wow, that's good. And yes, I do feel incredibly old right now.

Remember when Luke had hair? Then they did that weird curly thing with it?

Nothing like hospital drama!