Gather Here: Book Reading Recap

Books are art, and Steve Ashley opened up his studio “Valley Book Store” in downtown Jackson Hole to me, one Friday in February. I welcomed everyone, explaining the people I dedicated Fireworks and Fertility to, and why. The meaning has a lot to do with my fascination with being in the room with smarter people. From my dedication authors to those limelight friends in attendance, I was surrounded by brilliance.

I spoke about one of my favorite parts about writing fiction… when the Unexpected happens. David Lazel, a colleague of my lead character embryologist Julia Holland, is not available when a threat comes in to the clinic…making Julia even more nervous about his character.

I called David Lazel.

                  “I’m finishing up at the gun range,” he said. “If I don’t stay in the rotation, all the other dudes are gonna jump in front of me.”

                  “Fine, practice shooting. We’ve just gotten a serious threat. We may need your skills soon.”

                  “Say what?”

                  I brought up a Google search while he waited out a series of gunshots.

                  “I’m searching for other ‘The Embryo Clinic’ threats. Have you ever heard of it?”

                  “Julia, what, are you crazy?”

                  “I’m calling Sage if you can’t call your practice off!” Finally, I heard him tell someone to go ahead of him. Again he asked if I was crazy, his voice barely audible over the gun cracking.

                  Distressed, I sorted options. I saw no results in my search. Could the email be traceable? The address looked like gibberish. My “mix-up” patients were barely willing to go the distance with delivery of twins. Luke was not going to be able to help me. Nor could anyone for that matter.

                  And merely minutes ago there were Violet and Dylan: “We really are desperate for a baby.” She implored me to aid her. Would Violet steal donor eggs? I practically sent the thought shooting out my office door. All of this was making me cuckoo.

                  I heard David scuffling around. Clicking a case open and then shut.

                  “I’m on my way. I’m nearly out the door.”

                  I nodded. “I’ll be here.”

                  Thirty seconds later I was in the embryology lab. Susanna had left the incubator and workspace in great shape. I dropped onto a stool and waited for David.


                  “Why are you always at the gun range?”

                  “Clearly your adrenaline is still pumping. I don’t suppose my father getting gunned down by an armed robber when I was a kid would be a good enough answer for you.”

                  “Oh, I’m sorry.”

                  I spent the next few minutes concentrating on understanding David. And getting a grip on my nerves.

Here, the Unexpected was the trauma that David had experienced in childhood. Julia changed the way she looks at him, less blame, as vulnerable even. It transformed him in Julia’s mind from an egomaniac to an empathetic person, maybe even a leader, someone to help her get out of the jam the clinic is in.

To read more unexpected turns, pick up your copy of Fireworks and Fertility. Happy reading.


Brian Modena