Sunday, September 14, 2008

appropriating the real world

Yesterday my pal (let's call him Bob) took me on a tour of OHSU. It was the second OHSU-related tour I've been on in service to research for STL. "Bob" works in media up there, so I've decided to obfuscate his identity lest he get in trouble for what I'm going to cull from the tour. My narrator's husband is modeled after the VP of finance up there on the hill, and I wanted a feel for what it's like to work in a job whose stresses include keeping a multi-million dollar government-connected medical facility in the black. I also wanted to know what his daily walking commute from triple diamond parking to his executive office in Baird Hall would be like.

I have six pages of notes—lots of minutiae that comes in handy when building the iceberg of authority. For instance, there's these vending machines peppered throughout the OHSU tunnels. They look like Coke machines, but what they dispense instead of soda are packets of things like Mammalian Cell Lysis Reagents and so forth. The hill has lots of cutting edge research going on. You've heard of Druker, right? The dude behind the leukemia pill gleevec? These guys are the golden boys of the hill. The research scientists and the neurosurgeons who bring in the big bucks. And my character, the fictive Arthur Collier, is charged with balancing the beans that come in from these hot shots with stuff like health insurance for the multitudes of support staff who keep the furnaces blasting.

I'm quite tickled at the prospect of orchestrating what will happen between Artie and Frances when he has to shut down her division of stem cell research at the primate center because damage control and PETA PR is costing the organization too much money. And when he does this, you better believe that he's going to get a big fat bonus.

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