The Committee Will Kill You Now by Jennifer / JL Lycette
JL Lycette Author Interview + Book & Author Info
Don’t miss JL Lycette’s debut interview, click the link here.
The Committee Will Kill You Now by JL Lycette
The gripping new book from the author of The Algorithm Will See You Now. Based on the true-life rationing of kidney dialysis in 1960s America, a medical intern in 1992 Seattle tries to leave his painful past behind, only to uncover a shocking truth of thirty years prior and the lasting, generational harm of hidden secrets…
After a co-intern dies by suicide, a grieving Noah Meier commits an accidental error. In a desperate move to save his patient’s life, he covertly seeks help from audacious surgical resident Marah Maddox, igniting a bond between them.
When the hospital is suspiciously quick to sweep everything under the rug, Noah turns to his late father’s journal for guidance and makes a chilling discovery, all while trying to stay out of the crosshairs of abusive Dr. Rankel, keen to make an example of Noah. Worse, Rankel clearly has it out for Marah as the only woman in her program.
As the hospital’s patriarchal power structures, and the truth about his father’s past, threaten Noah and Marah’s burgeoning relationship, Noah will have to choose: shoulder his father’s devastating legacy or create his own daring future.
The latest sensational page-turner from physician-author JL Lycette, The Committee Will Kill You Now is a riveting historical suspense about the inner workings of the medical world and the personal struggles of those within it.
A thrilling near-historical drama that exposes the dark side of the medical establishment and a must-read for anyone interested in medicine, ethics, and the human struggle for justice.
To purchase The Committee Will Kill You Now, you can find it at the following retailers: Amazon, Black Rose Writing, Barnes & Noble.
Interview with Jennifer/JL Lycette
The Committee Will Kill You Now is your second novel. How different was the process for you (writing and/or publishing) than with your first?
I wrote the first draft of The Committee Will Kill You Now in April 2020, as part of Camp NaNoWriMo, while we were all hunkered down in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was probably the easiest time I’ve ever had focusing on my writing because it was my mental escape from everything else going on during that time.
I challenged myself to write something much more complex than my first book, which I might not have done in different circumstances. But at that time, sure, deciding to write a dual timeline story with the second timeline told in epistolary form with journal entries and with a single character POV throughout, but also telling the story of the negative character arc of the secondary character and throwing in a romance subplot, was exactly the distraction from the real world my brain needed. I’ve seen other writers share how sometimes the writing process is like a fever dream, and when I think back to that month of drafting, it definitely felt that way. I don’t know that I could ever repeat it.
The revision process, conversely, was relatively slow. It was an on-and-off process over the next two and a half years, a timeline similar to my first novel. I want other people who aren’t full-time writers to know that it can take longer when you’re only revising on weekends, but eventually, you will get there.
Amid that, I signed a publishing contract for my first novel, and after it was published, my publisher asked if I had a second book. By then, Committee was ready to show them, and they offered a contract for it, too. So, it was a much faster process to publication than the first book, which took me about six years from first draft to publication.
The Committee Will Kill You Now set in 1992 but references the 1960s and the rationing of kidney dialysis. What drew you to that aspect of medical history?
I first became interested in the “God Committee” when researching the history of kidney dialysis for a small portion of a scene in my first book, The Algorithm Will See You Now.
The “God Committee”—or the Admissions and Policies Committee of the Seattle Artificial Kidney Center, as it was formally known—was an actual committee of mostly laypeople in the early 1960s in Seattle, WA, who met in secret over a number of years to ration the first kidney dialysis in the United States. (But my story and all its characters are fictional).
In the scene in Algorithm, an older Noah is referencing the history of dialysis to a young resident and remarking on the importance of knowing the history of how things came to be. In my research for this scene, when I came across the “God Committee,” I was fascinated and mortified. Because this history had not been taught to me in my medical school – in the city where it happened.
In that scene (in Algorithm), I included an idea that Noah’s father had been a part of this “God Committee” and that it forever changed him. I also hinted at a past connection between Noah and Marah in the first book that I knew I wanted to go back and explore further at some point. All of that together became the story idea for The Committee Will Kill You Now.
It’s a prequel to Algorithm but each book can be read as a standalone or in either order.
The Committee Will Kill You Now features Noah Meier and Marah Maddox. What would you like reader to know about them?
The first thing to know is that Marah Maddox is the antagonist of my first book (The Algorithm Will See You Now), and, as any writer knows, your antagonist always thinks she’s the hero of the story. So, in writing Algorithm, there was a lot of character work that didn’t end up on the page that I had to do to explore her motivations and beliefs, which ultimately turned her into the villain she became.
Noah Meier is a mentor character in Algorithm to the protagonist (Hope Kestrel, who isn’t in Committee as she wouldn’t have been born yet). To deepen the character connections and add tension in Algorithm, I hinted that Marah and Noah had a past relationship. Eventually, I had enough of their backstory in my head to realize I had an entire additional book I needed to write.
The other part of their story that the book explores is how the same traumatic experiences can change people in very different ways. Marah and Noah become the people they are much later in life, as we first meet them in Algorithm, because of the trauma of their medical training.
This book is also a love letter to medical students, residents, and trainees, and, I suppose, in some way, to my past self. Not everyone makes it out of those years of intense experiences with their sense of self intact. With Noah and Marah, one of them does, and one of them doesn’t.
As a doctor, how do you balance the truth of medicine and the necessary intrigue for writing fiction? Do you take liberties?
Oh, I love this question so much because it was a surprising learning experience for me with both books! There have been many scenes I ended up either cutting or significantly revising because my non-medical beta readers didn’t find the true-to-life scenes believable.
I had to pretty much throw out things I had written from my own real-life experiences and instead come at it to look at what best served the story. Then, of course, I could use my medical knowledge and expertise to add factual information, but only as necessary for the story.
I’ve had some physician colleagues call me out on some of these liberties, but they still loved the books, so I don’t mind. That’s all part of fiction writing.
But yes, trying to please both a layperson and physician reader audience has been a tricky balance at times.
What are we likely to find you doing when you aren’t reading or writing thrillers?
Mainly in my day job, doctoring, where I’m a community hematologist/oncologist in rural Oregon. But when I’m not working, reading or writing, I’m mostly trying to spend time with our teenagers when they’ll allow me, and taking care of our aging golden doodle and ornery Boston terrier.
What are you working on now?
I’m in the early stages of drafting my next WIP. I can’t say much about it yet except to share that I’m pushing myself to go outside the hospital setting. While this next WIP is “medicine-adjacent,” the characters are not physicians.
Words of Wisdom for Aspiring Writers:
Something I’ve been reflecting on for myself with this launch of my second book is trying to remember why I write. Publishing one’s work is always a double-edged sword – part of writing is to have someone read our work – but it’s very easy to get caught up in the trap of external validation, especially with social media. When I revisited why I started writing, it was to express myself in an honest and true form, to discover and clarify truths that others might also find meaningful or resonant.
So, I’m reminding myself that success or failure is therefore not defined by how many books I sell or how many people “like” a social media post but whether the book represents those values of honesty and authenticity to the best of my ability. From the advance reviews I’ve received, it does. So, by those higher values, I’ve already met the metric of success. I have a writing friend who reminds me that sales are always out of the author’s control, so you have to just let that go and write the next thing. I’m not saying I’m 100% successful at this, but I’m trying to more consciously reframe that for myself each day.
Author Pet Corner!
JL / Jennifer Lycette is a novelist, award-winning essayist, rural physician, wife, and mother. Mid-career, she discovered narrative medicine on her path back from physician burnout and has been writing ever since.
Her essays can be found in Intima, NEJM, JAMA, and other journals; and online at Doximity and Medscape.
She is an alumna of the 2019 Pitch Wars Mentoring program and a member of ITW (International Thriller Writers) and PNWA (Pacific Northwest Writers Association).
Her other published speculative fiction can be found in the anthology And If That Mockingbird Don’t Sing: Parenting Stories Gone Speculative (Alternating Current Press). The Algorithm Will See You Now is her first novel. Her second novel (title and cover reveals coming soon!) will be out in November 2023.