April Hunt explains how writing a supernatural romance helps her through nursing shifts
When I entered my first nursing clinic twenty-five years ago, I had huge plans and big ideas. Ideas inspired by the amazing nurses who not only helped my father in his last hours on this earth, but also held the hand of a crying five-year-old girl as she faced one of the things hardest things in life: losing a parent. One of my earliest memories is of the nurses who took every pencil drawing I delivered to my father’s hospital room and lined the walls until barely an inch of paint was left. cream color appears beyond. These nurses were my superheroes. Their impact on my life fueled my desire to touch the lives of others in the same way, and I knew that if I could become one person’s superhero, I would have fulfilled my five-year-old’s dream. .
While college friends went to wild frat parties, I buried my nose in anatomy textbooks and memorized the classes, side effects, and generic names of more drugs than I ever thought possible. If you were to write a nursing care plan for someone with diabetes mellitus or ventilator-associated pneumonia, I was your girl.
But if someone had told me, as a doe-eyed freshman, that I was going to breastfeed during a global pandemic, I would have rolled my eyes and said, “Yeah, that’s not gonna happen. .” What if they told me I would become a published romance writer trying to create happily ever after stories while breastfeeding during a pandemic, I would have rolled my eyes and snorted in disbelief. Books had always been a solace to me growing up, but writing one myself? Being an author was so far removed from clinical nursing that I would never have anticipated it, until this very first plotline came to mind while I was pregnant and bedridden and armed – for the first time in years – a laptop computer instead of a stethoscope.
Two years later, I continue to breastfeed and write…in the midst of a pandemic.
Yet here we are, more than two years into the pandemic, and COVID still drags on like that horrible blind date you can’t seem to let go of. It hit my family hard and fast. Schools closed. Kiddos quarantined. My husband at home. Locks and closures. Scoring a roll of toilet paper at the grocery store sparked high-fives between hubby and me, and when was it a canister of Clorox? Full in-store dance party.
But do you know what brought me back down? My shifts at the hospital. I love being a nurse, even two years into this pandemic. But for the first time in my 20-plus year nursing career, every time I walked through the doors of the hospital, I feared that, despite all my diligence, this shift would be when I bring this virus home to vulnerable members of my family. I worried about the physical and mental health of my colleagues. I felt heartbroken for my patients, most of whom were hospitalized for the first time in their lives, who were sick, alone and most vulnerable.
The pandemic has created an unprecedented situation in the medical field which required unprecedented actions. Every day, and sometimes hour by hour, advice from policy committees and safety boards changed, often telling us nurses to ignore everything we had learned from those manuals, to ignore the decades of experience already under our “nurse helmet”.
We worked overtime, wasting time away from our own families. Many stepped out of their comfort zone — and areas of expertise — to help out in COVID ICUs and hold the hands of dying patients or help make those last tearful phone calls. Medical staff came out of retirement to try to lighten the load. Instead of long, comforting orientations into their very first nursing jobs, new graduates were dropped into the middle of a health care war zone and told to do their best.
Those were, by far, the most difficult two years of my nursing career. I see it in my dark circles under my eyes and on the faces of my hospitable family. And amidst all the uncertainties, tears, and fears, author April still needed to write this happily ever after. The words had to be written. Edited pages. Have you ever tried to harvest water from a dry well? It’s impossible. With looming deadlines, overtime in the hospital, and mounting frustrations, my well wasn’t just dry. It was sterile.
I have found a home in books since childhood…
Even as a child, when my mother lovingly kicked me out the door with the command to get “fresh air and sunshine,” there was usually a paperback book under my arm. That didn’t change when I reached my teens, or even adulthood. But in addition to devouring stories born in the minds of others, I escaped into worlds created by my own imagination.
Under the pen name April Hunt, I wrote a high-octane romantic thriller with mind-blowing car chases and badass villains that needed to be crushed like a bug. A metaphorical clock announced a possible doomsday scenario, and it was up to the muscular hero and the crazy heroine to save the day.
For pre-COVID April two years ago, this heart-pounding action was my jam. But the April who had worked three grueling 12-hour shifts, dressed in multiple layers of personal protective equipment and sporting facial bruises left by her respirator? Not really. She’d had her fill of death-defying stunts just trying to handle her increased patient load.
After a particularly tough shift, I sat next to my kids on the couch and admitted that I needed an escape to the cozy, familiar, and comforting stories of my childhood. I needed something so different from my previously published romantic thrillers and so far removed from our new reality that it couldn’t be seen with the Hubble Space Telescope.
Our new world also called for a new type of writing.
Enter my love for all things paranormal. Growing up, authors like RL Stine and Christopher Pike had been my go-to. vampire diary? I loved it before Ian Somerholder graced the TV show with his sexy smirk. And believe me when I say, you don’t wanna play one buffy the vampire slayer quiz with me unless you’re ready to lose. (My husband learned this lesson the hard way).
I took my love for all that moves in the night and asked myself a question: what if supernatural beings were no longer confined to the shadows, but were part of everyday life, navigating by being sexy, single and unearthly in the city?
It’s the second Not the witch you married was born. I immediately knew that my heroine, Violet, had to be a witch from a prominent witch family, and what better fight to give her than being without magic in a world that expected her to be the most powerful ? After all, that’s exactly how I felt every time I stepped onto the hospital floor. Then came my hero, Lincoln. An Alpha wolf shifter with a gooey cinnamon roller center, his main goal in life was to shed the bloodthirsty old system that ruled his pack for generations and build a “shiftocracy”. .
Writing through it has helped lighten my load.
I threw all my 2020 frustrations at my characters, then watched as they fought against them, armed with plenty of humor, snark, and above all, love. Suddenly the words that I had struggled to get onto the page poured out of me, making Not the witch you married fastest book I’ve ever written.
By doing my the characters laugh, I smile. Watching them fall in love, the sweet tremors of hope tugged at my heart again. My COVID reality was still a big part of my life, but I found I feared it less. The heavy terror that usually weighed on my chest when I went to the hospital eased a bit as I worked alongside my colleagues and with my patients. By helping my characters find their forever happiness, I have led myself not only to a place of acceptance, but of hope. And one of Violet’s life lessons has become mine: if we let our magic guide us, we can overcome anything. Together.
April Asher’s new book, Not the witch you married, is now available at your favorite bookstore. This essay is part of a series spotlighting the Good Housekeeping Book Club – you can join the conversation and discover more of our favorite book recommendations.
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