From Publishers Weekly June 17, 2002 issue
In a third medical thriller, a pair of writers—one an M.D. and the other his former patient—dare to broach one of the most divisive subjects in American life: abortion. Says Glahn, “We’re expecting a lot of heat, sure. That’s why we would never have done it as a first book.”
False Positive (May) is the team’s first book for WaterBrook, after two novels and a nonfiction title for Kregel, which released the coauthors from their contract to allow them to seek a crossover audience through a bigger publisher. The earlier thrillers were the Christy Award finalist Lethal Harvest (2000), which focused on human cloning and embryonic stem-cell research, and the sequel, Deadly Cure (2001), which took up end-of-life issues and adult stem-cell research.
Cutrer and Glahn make an unusual fiction team. William Cutrer is an obstetrician-gynecologist who specialized in infertility treatment and now teaches bioethics and spiritual formation at the Southern Baptist Seminary (he no longer has an active practice). Glahn is a journalist who edits the Dallas Theological Seminary’s magazine, Kindred Spirit, and serves on the school’s adjunct faculty. Initially doctor and patient, they became friends on medical missions trips they took with their spouses to the former Soviet Union.
When Glahn and her husband, now adoptive parents of one child, encountered reproductive problems, she was frustrated with the limitations of books with evangelical Christian perspectives. So she and Cutrer, then also living in Dallas, wrote one: When Empty Arms Become a Heavy Burden: Encouragement for Couples Facing Infertility (Broadman & Holman, 1997). They followed it with Sexual Intimacy in Marriage for Kregel, published in 1998 and updated in 2001. The coauthors had begun to emerge as evangelical voices on reproduction issues when, while flying back to Dallas from a cancer workshop, they started discussing stem-cell research. A nonfiction approach would be too dry—what about fiction?
Lethal Harvest was released the day it was announced the human genome project was almost complete, Glahn says, and Kregel published Deadly Cure the same month President Bush announced his stand on adult stem-cell research.
Even before Cutrer and his wife moved to Louisville, Ky., three years ago, most of the novelist pair’s work was done via e-mail, with editing and feedback from their spouses. Though Cutrer provides more medical expertise and experiences and Glahn is more the writer, their back-and-forth leads to true collaboration, they both say. It doesn’t come without pain and conflict. But, Cutrer tells PW, “We always realize the finished product is better than anything either of us would have done on our own.”
Cutrer says False Positive is set in one clinic where abortions are performed and in another clinic that encourages other options. The central character is an ob-gyn resident. Though both believe that human life and personhood begin at the one-celled stage, Cutrer and Glahn tried to put compassionate, skilled characters on both sides of this complicated issue. Glahn says they expect to be accused of compromising their beliefs by seeing any good at all in people who provide or condone abortions.
Glahn and Cutrer say they work to write complicated people, some with problematic pasts. “We wanted to also provide some healing and hope for people who’ve made the decision to abort,” Glahn says.
While they await inspiration for the next thriller, Glahn and Cutrer plan two nonfiction books for Zondervan: one on fertility for 2003 and one on contraception for 2004. —Juli Cragg Hilliard