Saturday 27 January 2024

Why Do We Specialise in Writing for the Life Sciences Industry?

In January 2007, I almost died. 

I don't remember which I noticed first, the nausea or the red blotches. Or the heat. It's possible that they all arrived together. I remember feeling extremely lightheaded, and I have a vague recollection of being carried out of the house and bundled into the back of the car by my husband, Ryoma. I remember that my skin puffed up and began to hurt. Then nothing... until I woke up in a bed in the local hospital's Intensive Therapy Unit. For the next few days I was unconscious most of the time. 

I wasn't always sure about where I was. And I hadn't a clue what was wrong with me. Unfortunately, my doctors were equally baffled. Drugs were pumped into me. Tests were run. Bacterial meningitis was considered, then rejected. Septicemia was suggested. An allergic reaction was thought likely, until it wasn't. My heart rate was too fast, my temperature was too high. I couldn't eat, walk, or string enough words together to create a sentence. I may have been out of it most of the time, but I was aware—as was my family—that death wasn't out of the question. Later, when I was back home, Ryoma told me that he'd been informed, when we first arrived at the hospital, that a delay of just a few minutes could have resulted in me not surviving.

The hospital doctors shook their heads and sighed, then decided to throw everything at me; thankfully, eventually something stuck. A week later, the blotches had disappeared, along with the pain I'd been feeling, my heart rate was almost back to normal, and I was eating again. My release was delayed by a stubbornly high temperature, but eventually I was back home. By the time I was released, it was suggested that a virus and subsequent infection had caused the trouble. But the last doctor to speak to me confirmed that she and her colleagues didn't really know what had made me so ill. 'Keep on taking the pills,' she said; 'we don't know which ones worked, so take them all, in case... well, just keep on taking them.'

I was released, but I wasn't what you'd call recovered. Recovery took another eighteen months. When I first returned home, I couldn't walk a few steps without getting out of breath. I slept on and off all day, and I suffered constant headaches. At some point—funnily enough, I can't remember when—it was discovered that I'd lost quite a bit of my memory. 

Eventually, I did get back to 'normal'. Well, that's not strictly true; I never returned to being the me that I had been before my illness. Is it possible to get so up close and personal with Death and remain unchanged? I don't think so. My view of the world, of what matters, and of the direction I wanted to take in life all changed. Once I had recovered sufficiently, Ryoma made the decision to move into working with the Life Sciences Industry; it was his way of giving back.

A lot has happened since then, but one thing has remained the same: I am always grateful for the medicines that saved my life—whichever ones did the trick—and the doctors and nurses who pumped me full of them. We're all just a hop, skip and a jump away from illness or injury, and where would we be without our hospitals, doctors, nurses, researchers, medical device manufacturers,  laboratories, and so on? 

Not so very long ago, we were all oblivious to the future existence of Covid 19, and then... well, you know the rest. Is there a sensible person alive now who isn't more aware of the fragility of human life as a result?

Why the Life Sciences? Well, it's a natural consequence of benefitting from their existence.

Wednesday 17 January 2024

Book News: The Other End ~ R. Ellis Roberts

I am extremely pleased to announce that on 14 February Nezu Press will release a lovely new hardback edition of The Other End by R. Ellis Roberts. 

In his day, R. Ellis Roberts was a well-known literary critic and writer. He contributed reviews and articles to a number of periodicals, including the Daily News, Observer, Empire Review, London Mercury, Bookman, Saturday Review, and Guardian. He was literary editor for the New Statesman and Time and Tide, and he hosted a book review programme for BBC Radio. In 1923, his only collection of uncanny short stories, The Other End, was published by Cecil Palmer and received glowing reviews. The critic for the Bookman declared the author ‘as well able to write stories of his own as to criticise those of others’, having achieved a mastery of his subject that at times ‘challenges comparison with Poe and Hawthorne’. And Gerald Gould, in the Saturday Review, suggested that no nervous person should read the book when ‘alone at night in a remote cottage on a lonely moor’. This new edition of The Other End includes four reviews written by R. Ellis Roberts about the work of Arthur Machen, of whom he was an admirer—for the Bookman, Daily News, and Sewanee Review—and a biographical essay by Gina R. Collia, ‘R. Ellis Roberts: The Critic Who Read for Pleasure’.

You can pre-order it directly from Nezu Press (Publisher shop: Click here). Or you can do so from the usual online retailers; the book will be showing up in all the usual places soon.

Nezu Press, 14 February 2024.
Hardback with dust jacket, 258 pages.

Thursday 16 November 2023

Book News ~ The Master of Hullingham Manor ~ New Edition

I am very pleased to announce that on 29 November Nezu Press will release a new hardback edition of the 'shilling shocker' The Master of Hullingham Manor by Bernard Wentworth, with an 18-page introductory essay by me. I'm always excited about working on a new book, but this one has been particularly exciting for me.

When I first started researching 'Bernard Wentworth', I had only one very small piece of information to work with (and it was a seemingly unreliable one at that)... a mention of her in the gossip column of a Welsh newspaper. But, well, I like a challenge, and I love to research, so I ran with it. What did I find out?... That Bernard Wentworth's history (albeit lacking any murdering), was as shocking and tragic as that of the characters in her book. 

We could call her Mrs Bernard Wentworth... That was one of her aliases... But let's call her by her actual Christian name, Eleanor. Eleanor led an extremely troubled life. She wrote very little, but she put everything she had into what she did write... literally; The Master of Hullingham Manor was born from Eleanor's own experiences of marrying a wrong 'un. She was called 'devious' in court... She was laughed at and persecuted. If you want to know more, you'll have to buy the book!

So, what's the book about? Well, here's the blurb:

Carlos Hullingham is a handsome devil: physically perfect but morally bankrupt. He is society’s darling, ‘but behind the sensuous charm of exterior there lurks the spirit of a fiend, ruthless in its cruelty and malice.’ His first wife, Adelaide Hullingham, is dead… done to death… and now his second wife is proving troublesome.  Originally published in 1897, The Master of Hullingham Manor is a tale of wickedness, murder and revenge. With a cruel aristocrat, an imprisoned wife, a devious asylum owner, a fair bit of adultery, a vaulted room and a ‘Phantom Recital’ to boot. In the introductory essay to this new edition, Gina R. Collia reveals the true identity of Bernard Wentworth and paints a full and vivid picture of the authoress's extremely troubled life. (Publisher shop: Click here)

Nezu Press
Case laminate hardcover, 140 pages.