John Hunter Hospital nurse Audrey Pflugrath has always enjoyed watching crime shows on television and reading crime novels. She loves them so much she decided to starting writing a crime novel. This week, her first book, The Recipient, was published.
“It is getting more serious,” said Pflugrath, who writes under her maiden name, Audrey J. Cole. “It’s definitely a passion and a love.”
The plot for The Recipient was hatched from an idea in a news story Pflugrath had read.
“I saw a newspaper article in the US about a death-row inmate in Oregon who wanted to donate an organ,” she said. There was a major public protest against allowing it, and he was not allowed to donate any organs. It was apparently illegal – and unethical – for anybody who was executed to have the organs donated.
“He was a serial killer,” Pflugrath offered. “And it got me thinking, what if ... what would you think ... I started the story in my mind. And I looked into partial brain cell transplant.”
The story is set in the Seattle area (where Pflugrath is originally from), with Pflugrath tagging it as an “Emerald City thriller”, indicating it will be the setting for more of her work.
“Being from Seattle, there are some elements I take from there. I portray even the weather. Seattle has an impact on people – it’s a bipolar city, strikingly beautiful in summer, but darker periods in winter. I bring it out in winter. But there’s also mention of the Hunter Valley and a bit of Australia.”
Pflugrath punctuates her writing with medical details in her thriller, but they don’t directly come from her job knowledge. “My work is entirely different. I work in pediatrics. I’ve had to ask a few medical professionals about things outside my element.”
In fact, Pflugrath intentionally does not use names of friends in the book, to make sure there are no misunderstandings.
While it is early days with the first book, she’s well into writing a second thriller, taking a much more disciplined approach – writing for at least an hour every day.
“The more you write, the easier it gets. You get more efficient,” she said.
“The second book is going much quicker. You just have to press through when you start and then it comes. I think it’s just knowing what you’re capable of. Now, it’s so exciting to have a book out, you want to give them more next year.”
The second book shares threads from the first, like the same detectives, but the leading figures will change. And yes, she said there will be an even larger Australian flavour than in the first book.
The Recipient is available at Harry Hartog bookstore in Westfield Kotara, McDonald’s bookstore in Maitland, and online through Amazon.