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Buried Beneath The Sorrow And The Mayhem

J. N. de Bedout
J. N. de Bedout Author Interview

Health Reformation follows a relatively healthy man on a journey through a dystopian healthcare system that is supposed to be perfect but turns out to be a nightmare. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

As 2020 opened with the pandemic, and life around the country deteriorated, I wondered about how emergent diseases might change our lives and institutions. Buried beneath the sorrow and the mayhem, a nascent idea started forming about how healthcare might evolve in the future, but in a provocative and entertaining way. This effort meandered and flowed through much of January and February. But I only decided to write this story once I determined the name of one of the main characters. That lightning strike propelled this curiosity from a possible future project into something that deserved my immediate attention, and the mere mention of that name to those in my inner circle reinforced that assessment. Energized by the feedback I received, I started writing in March of 2020 and released it in November of the same year.

But I also didn’t want it to be “about the pandemic.” The various fictitious viruses in the story provide a background against which the characters venture into a revamped healthcare system. The inspiration was thus multifaceted: the 2020 health crisis, the repeated calls for free universal healthcare, the ubiquitous push for ever more automation and the loss of jobs to overseas labor markets. Furthermore, people nowadays have to fill their own gas tanks and go through self-checkout lanes at supermarkets—and at some restaurants. Robots build more than people do. And trying to get customer service over the phone is a maddening descent into insanity. This story is not a commentary or analysis of any of those topics, though. Those were the ingredients and the viruses were the oven that helped bake this morsel into a darkened future that looms all too possible.

Jason is an interesting and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

He’s a young man with a new bride and big plans for his future. The pandemics are just background noise for him. Looking back at 2020, I think a lot of people had big objectives that got dashed by the advent of covid-19. But imagine when we collectively get past the lockdowns, quarantines and business closures, and things open up again. Dreams will flourish anew. People will want to travel again. Jason encapsulates all of that optimism. And he’s generous. He sees the best in people, and he didn’t care that his wife was convicted of murder and has a trail of dead husbands in her wake. But he also has some flaws that are exposed as the plot advances.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

The military has a saying: “no plan survives contact with the enemy.” Likewise, intentions get twisted by reality, whether it’s because of cost, greed, unexpected delays or something else. I wanted to expose a healthcare system that was born from the finest intentions, but fails to deliver actual value. It’s an extrapolation of what we see around us today. Among the hindrances that deform this imaginary healthcare system are the regulations that helped create it.

The second main theme revolves around the offshoring of jobs. As Jason emerges from the hospital, and the hidden costs of “free” becomes apparent, he has to face a new nightmare. In this situation, I chose an entire industry that employs thousands and eliminated it outright from the national scene. For Jason, that has dire implications—but it does give him that chance to finally travel abroad, albeit not to his ideal destination.

But there were also tertiary themes at play, too. Protests were a staple of 2020, and there’s a vociferous march demanding change in the book. I also wanted to showcase a reality where gangs peddle access to unemployed doctors instead of selling illicit substances, stores have disappeared from city streets, and hospitals have built-in furnaces.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

At the time I started writing Health Reformation: Murder, Medicine and Rehab in the Age of Pandemics, I was already in the finishing stages of what will now be my next book. Peace through Purpose is a Book Zero (or prequel) for my next series, a galactic epic that will provide [fictional] answers to the big questions that have always vexed us. Why are we here? What is humanity’s future? How will life on Earth end? What role will artificial intelligence play in the future?

Peace through Purpose is a collection of six tales that introduce an alien utopia before it is destroyed by an unforeseen enemy. Each enjoys a distinctive flair while also building upon a unifying foundation, with topics ranging from resettling refugees to raising a family to eradicating threats that imperil the ongoing harmony to managing planetary ecosystems. The main series will take place in the aftermath of the aforementioned apocalyptic event.

Like Health Reformation, this galaxy-spanning civilization is not perfect despite the ideals espoused by its governing authorities. Scratch beneath the agencies and the mantras, and universal peace is, as it is on Earth today, within reach but always beyond our grasp.

This prequel to the upcoming series should be available later in 2021.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Saving lives is a hospital’s primary purpose.
Seems obvious, right?
Jason was a lucky fellow. He married a former doctor, albeit a notorious one with a wicked past. The dream home he fantasized about, a remote villa in the pristine Andean mountains of Peru, dangled within reach. And the pandemics sweeping the globe killing millions receded into a distant malady that afflicted other people, those with no apparent plan for their future. But when a pain develops in his groin, and his wife recommends visiting the nearby local hospital, everything changes.
Enter the facility, get diagnosed, select the best treatment from the options provided and be home in time for supper. Simple and painless.
Free universal health care made access even easier. Long wait times, surprise bills large enough to bankrupt millionaires, and aloof doctors that only pretended to heed their patient’s concerns had become bleak facets of a dire past few yearned to revive. Visionary reforms guaranteed everything was better now, cleaner and more efficient.
And he had contracted no lethal viruses.
So after a pep talk from his infamous wife and a dose of joy to lift his spirits, he sets off on his quest for wellness.
What’s the worst that could happen?
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