I have been asked how much research into transplant surgery I did before writing YOUR HEART BELONGS TO ME. I would like to reveal that, in the interest of accuracy and the accumulation of vivid detail, and because I bring total commitment to my writing, I underwent a heart transplant myself, even though I didn’t need one. This would be a lie, however, and people without a sense of humor would write by the hundreds to accuse me of taking a perfectly good heart needed by some patient who really needed it.
To prepare for this novel, I read a few books on the subject of transplants, watched two educational films during which I passed out repeatedly at the sight of blood, and spoke with a few medical specialists in the field–largely to ascertain how they manage not to pass out in surgery every time they expose the pulsing internal organs of a patient.
Ryan Perry, the lead of YOUR HEART BELONGS TO ME, is 34, wealthy from the Internet social-networking site that he created, with an ideal life ahead of him. Then he learns he suffers from cardiomyopathy and will die wis thaithin a year if he does not undergo a heart transplant. The procedure is successful, but a year later he begins to receive gifts–such as a heart-shaped locket–with the message “Your heart belongs to me. I want it back.”
Although it might seem to be a ghost story, YOUR HEART BELONGS TO ME is something else entirely. In addition to being a thriller with a medical procedure as a key element, it is an unusual love story. Those who have never read my books–we know who you are–might be surprised to learn that more often than not, a love story is part of the mix. In a romantic relationship, we’re vulnerable; and when a character in a novel is vulnerable, we are more likely to worry about him or her and to relate more intimately to the story. Furthermore, people in love have something precious to lose, and in their sometimes desperate efforts to hold fast to that love, they reveal themselves more profoundly than they might otherwise.
In the early years of my career–or what we here in Koontzland call “the long slog”–publishers resisted me when I wanted to mix genres. These days, my publisher encourages me to pursue fresh ways of telling stories. Consequently, YOUR HEART BELONGS TO ME is a suspense novel and love story with a thread of the supernatural weaving through it, set against a backdrop of medicine and medical mystery, concerning certain issues of ethics that are timeless–and others that are unique to our time. And I promise you that the medical detail is not so graphic that you will pass out.