Kate Bennet. A bright hospital pathologist with a loving husband and a solid future. Until one day her world turns dark. A strange, puzzling illness has killed two women. Now it endangers Kate’s closest friend. Soon it will threaten Kate’s marriage. Her sanity. Her life. Kate has uncovered a horrifying secret. Important people will stop at nothing to protect it. It is a terrifying medical discovery. And its roots lie in one of the greatest evils in the history of humankind.
To my mind this was the hardest to write of all my books. Every published novelist has one book in him. The trick is to have two or more. The “What if?” (see writing tips) that got this ball rolling was, “What if there was a drug that could sterilize a woman without her knowing it?” The idea evolved from the angst of one of my cousins and several friends, all of whom were having trouble conceiving a child.
Whereas the story for The Sisterhood seemed to flow, this story was agony to put together. The success of The Sisterhood meant that now there was a contract before I even began working on my outline. And with the contract and the success came expectations. Linda Grey started as the editor of this book, then became the publisher of Bantam and turned the job over to Jeanne Bernkopf, who also edited James Clavelle. Once again, my willingness to rewrite and rewrite made it possible for me to learn on the job, so to speak.
Working full time in a busy ER saw to it that Side Effects didn’t get written quickly. Once again (with my blessing) the book was published as a paperback (mass market) original. “The public has a short memory,” I was told, “and you are not writing fast enough to take the hardcover gamble yet.” The publishers felt that if the book didn’t succeed in hardcover, the numbers ordered for the reprint (paperback) would plummet. “Write faster,” they suggested. “I don’t want to stop working as an ER doc,” I replied.