Tag Archives: Fiction w/ a Message

It's time to end the stigma and silence around--and the causes of--drug addiction.

Over the next few weeks, I'll be asking questions of my blog, book and social media readers.

Today's question relates to the art, journalism and culture around opiate addiction, what you consume, and why?

[yop_poll id="2"]

For Question #1, click here.

Thank you for answering, and please share with your friends!

I am writing this blog to share a very exciting adventure. The University of Amsterdam has invited me to speak to the School of Communication Research.  Thank you Prof. dr. Claes de Vreese in the division of Political Communication and Journalism for the opportunity to discuss how fiction can be used as a vehicle to effect social change.




Here is the outline of my talk:

The Use of Fiction as a Vehicle to Communicate & Educate

The benefits of using  a “novel” approach to communicate and educate about multifactorial societal challenges will be discussed. The obligations of physicians and the medical community will be used to illustrate how in combination with social media, fictional works can:

  • communicate the complexity of disease states in an understandable format;
  • engage and educate a wider audience in order to effect social change;
  • destigmatize certain diseases, and specifically the disease of addiction;
  • decrease bias by connecting faces and lives to illnesses; and
  • encourage policy makers and politicians to base decisions on evidence based science and financial considerations.


Here are a few more slides I will be using during my presentation. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words; so please enjoy the following slides and please let me know if you would be interested in having me present to your group, organization or academic institution.















Medical Thriller's Educational Value

Since my last blog when I boldly challenged whether a Murder Mystery can be Literary Fiction, I have been humbled by two more speaking invitations. I believe this further reinforces the premise that the term Literary Fiction is more expansive than commonly espoused.  Should a Medical Thriller’s Educational Value be judged solely upon a narrow definition or on the message it imparts?  Let’s remember that the term Literary Fiction is commonly used in the book-selling business to connote “serious fiction” with arbitrarily applied criteria such as having different types of book covers, titles or types of book formatting. Wow! How about determining literary merit based on messages of social commentary, political criticism, or exploring some part of the human condition.  Why can’t a novel entertain and excite while carrying a serious message?

I have been invited to use my book as a foundation to explore the educational value of using Fiction with a Message to expand the views of graduate students studying Communication and students in the School of Public Health.  Over the next several months I will have the honor and privilege to make presentations at the following academic institutions:

  • University of Massachusetts School of Public Health & Health Sciences, Amherst, MA:  “Addiction as a Disease Model” -  Presentation/Discussion,  December 7, 2015 
  • Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Georgia Campus, Suwanee, GA: “Destigmatizing Addiction” - Presentation/Discussion; December 10, 2015
  •  University of Amsterdam,  Graduate School of Communication, Amsterdam, NL,   "The Use of Fiction as a Vehicle to Communicate & Educate" - Presentation& Discussion;  March, 2016 (date TBD)

As exciting as all this sounds, it is no more important than continuing to use Addiction on Trial  to emphasize the devastating heroin/opioid epidemic still gripping our country. There need not be limits to a Medical Thriller's Educational Value.  I welcome invitations to participate in book clubs gatherings (large and small) to discuss the characters, the messaging, the struggles of addiction and the duplicitous approach of society’s response.  A recent article is a must read: In Heroin Crisis, White Families Seek Gentler War on Drugs.

Thank you to all my followers who continue to give me inspiration to speak and to write!

Can a Murder Mystery Be Literary Fiction?

Why did I write a medical murder mystery/legal thriller.  Easy answer: to become a famous author and to have my book become a blockbuster Hollywood movie! Really? – NO - Not really.  But I did write Addiction On Trial to educate through the back door – to reach the areas of our brains that typically we do not want to access after a long day at work.  My goal was to reach an audience of readers who yearn to escape into a page turning novel; readers who understandably do not want to pick up a scientific book about addiction at the beach or in front of a crackling fire.  So why am I questioning if a Murder Mystery can be Literary Fiction?

When the Coalition on Physician Education in Substance Use Disorders (“COPE”) asked me to read excerpts from my novel to thirty-five medical school curriculum deans and then the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine chose to use my book in its curriculum to decrease bias among medical students and other allied health care professionals toward addictive illnesses, I started to ask the question, Can a Murder Mystery Be Literary Fiction?

Literary Fiction is a term generally used for fictional works that hold literary merit -  novels that offer social commentary, political criticism, or focus on the individual to explore some part of the human condition.  Other definitions state that Literary Fiction does not emphasize plot as much as commercial fiction, but focuses on the "inner story" of the characters who emotionally drive the plot to capture the reader’s interest.

  • So, who kills Annette – is it Jimmy?
  • Can a heroin addict be capable of saving another’s life on the high seas?
  • Should the physician father of the accused murderer and heroin addict blame himself?
  • Is addiction a disease?
  • Should society pay to treat an “addict”?
  • What does it feel like to be a heroin addict in jail?
  • Do addicts have a silent code to protect one another?

These are just some of the questions posed in Addiction On Trial and the answers are imbedded within subliminal social commentary and political criticism, and through the characters who emotionally drive the plot.

I hope you will give it a try and let me know if you think I am full of malarkey 🙂