[Note from Frolic: We’re so excited to welcome author Kimmery Martin to the site today. She’s sharing some of the google searches for her latest novel. Take it away, Kimmery!]
If you aren’t an author, you probably haven’t given a lot of thought to the unintended consequences of researching a novel. By now, though, it shouldn’t be news to anyone that the internet keeps track of you. Did you look up the start of hunting season for your uncle? Navigate to a baby gift registry? Indulge a momentary curiosity about which curvy-bottomed celebrity went under the knife? To the mercenary goblins inside the web, these are not random searches. They are actionable browsing patterns. They’ll make an assumption—namely, that you are a gun-loving pregnant flat-ass—and inundate your Facebook feed with ads for camo onesies, curtain tie-backs in the shape of antlers, and some contraption called The Lady Fake Butt Pad Belt. Not that I’m speaking from experience.
This, of course, is what happens if you’re merely a regular person using the internet. If you decide to become a professional Googler—also known by the term novelist—you tend to look up a variety of things that aren’t relevant to your personal purchasing habits. Ask any author: we research some trippy stuff.
My latest novel revolves around what happens in the friendship between two physicians—a straight female urologist and a gay male family medicine doc—when one of them is unjustly fired. The novel addresses some serious subjects, including discrimination in medical care, substance abuse among medical professionals, and sexual harassment. On the other hand, you cannot write a book about a urologist without including some penis jokes, so it’s not all grim. On that note, here are the five most interesting topics I researched for The Antidote for Everything, plus a bonus list of words my publisher flagged from the novel. I’ll leave it to you to imagine what kind of “sponsored ads” I’m now seeing on my Instagram feed.
In the early drafts of this novel, the antagonist was an incel. If you’re not familiar with the term, don’t google it: it’s short for involuntary celibate and refers to a brand of misogyny so toxic it almost seems contrived, as if some horror writer invented it for shock value. I didn’t go full-on Dark Web to research but nonetheless found myself in enough of an ideological swamp that it probably landed me on some government watchlists. After reading one scene, my editor promptly nixed the idea. She was correct: I’m now reminded of Hannah Arendt’s famous quote about the banality of evil. Sometimes you don’t need supervillains. Regular people do enough harm on their own.
You wanna know how to whack a kidney stone, deal with a problematic prostate, or tack up a prolapsing bladder? I’m not your gal. But luckily, I’m in an online group of female doctors so I could crowdsource a bunch of highly intelligent real-life urologists. I also wound up reading an inordinate amount of online journal articles about the mysterious workings of the genitourinary system. As a result, the Google now believes I’m incontinent.
I’m an ally of the LGBTQ community but not actually in it myself. One of my characters references Grindr in the novel, which is a social networking site for gay, bi, trans, and queer folks. To be clear: I did not engage in any catfishing here. Actually faking my way onto Grindr to learn about it would be intrusive so after some basic research I called on my real-life gay friends and my sensitivity readers to check what I wrote. Nonetheless, the web still tries to monetize my interest in the subject: I see a lot of rainbow-themed stuff now.
Smoking Weed in Amsterdam.
Actually, I’m not going to comment on how I researched this. Let’s move on.
Here’s what happens when you spend a lot of time researching how to poison someone: a duo of humorless men in trench coats show up at your door and ask you some pointed questions about whether or not your husband has a large life insurance policy. Ha! Not really. They mainly seem interested in whether you have access to a significant amount of potassium chloride.
Bonus: Publishers generate a list of interesting words or references in a given author’s manuscript and send it to them, for what purpose I am still not certain. It comes in a document called a Style Sheet and I always get a kick out of the words they choose to highlight as my personal style. If you look the list below and think I’d love to know how THOSE words fit together in a novel, then congratulations. I have a book for you.
Here’s a sampling from The Antidote for Everything:
Colonel E.H. Taylor
sucker-punch (n.; v.)
About the Author:
Kimmery Martin is an emergency medicine doctor-turned novelist whose works of medical fiction have been praised by The Harvard Crimson, Southern Living, The Charlotte Observer and The New York Times, among others. A lifelong literary nerd, she speaks frequently at libraries, conferences, and bookstores around the United States. She lives with her husband and three children in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The Antidote for Everything by Kimmery Martin, out now!
Georgia Brown’s profession as a urologist requires her to interact with plenty of naked men, but her romantic prospects have fizzled. The most important person in her life is her friend Jonah Tsukada, a funny, empathetic family medicine doctor who works at the same hospital in Charleston, South Carolina and who has become as close as family to her.
Just after Georgia leaves the country for a medical conference, Jonah shares startling news. The hospital is instructing doctors to stop providing medical care for transgender patients. Jonah, a gay man, is the first to be fired when he refuses to abandon his patients. Stunned by the predicament of her closest friend, Georgia’s natural instinct is to fight alongside him. But when her attempts to address the situation result in incalculable harm, both Georgia and Jonah find themselves facing the loss of much more than their careers.