For more than 30 years, Ellis Johnson worked as an internal medicine specialist in Clark County. Over the years, he saw and treated many different medical conditions at his clinic in Woodland. Now retired, Johnson pulls from his experiences as a practitioner to write his series of medical mystery novels known as the “Doctor Sean Nolan” series.
The written word has always been a part of Johnson’s life. Growing up, he found comfort in piles of books from the library. He read everything ranging from international classics to English poetry from a very young age. By the time he was 10 or 11, he was writing poetry. At 15, he attempted his first novel. However, by the time he graduated high school, Johnson had doubled down on his interest in the medical field and went to medical school on the East Coast.
During the last 10 years, Johnson had an idea rattling around in his head for a book. However, due to the time-consuming nature of the medical field, he never got his words down on paper. Once he retired from medical practice in late 2018, Johnson moved to Hawaii as a way to get some rest, relaxation and time to start on his novel ideas.
But the first draft of a novel isn’t always great. According to Johnson, he didn’t like how the book turned out.
“I really liked the characters and the general story,” he said. “But I didn’t like the way it progressed and it didn’t accomplish what I wanted.”
Johnson decided to keep a few of his original ideas and start up a new series a little closer to home. Over the course of a few weeks, he came up with the idea of Doctor Sean Nolan, a small town doctor who slowly transitions into becoming a medical detective. The first book in the series, “Unraveled,” hit bookshelves earlier this spring.
“During the course of the book, (Nolan) and his family end up threatened and things happen,” Johnson explained. “(Nolan) just won’t take no for an answer and even if he has to bend or break the law a little bet to get answers. He doesn’t let anything stop him until he figures out what’s going on.”
Because Johnson spent years working in the medical field, the well of inspiration for medical mysteries is nearly limitless. By the time “Unraveled” was published, Johnson already had six more books completed and ready for the editing process. According to Johnson, the books “write themselves.”
Johnson said he only sleeps a couple of hours a night when he's writing a book. Going to bed in the early hours of the morning and waking up in the late morning, Johnson spends most of his days writing.
“I can’t take a day off or stop until the book is done and it’s usually a 30 to 40 day process,” he said. “The process is physically and mentally exhausting but the voices won’t shut up in your head until the book is completed and you can put them to bed until the story has been told.”
For Johnson, while the books and their stories may come easily, writing the dialogue is the most difficult for him while also being his favorite.
“Dialogue is probably the most difficult thing to use to advance the story; however, it’s also the most fun part,” Johnson explained, mentioning how he tries to weave humorous events and dialogue into the story.
As for feedback, Johnson said the reception for “Unraveled” has been “very good” from everyone that has read the book. He believes people like the book not only because the writing and story is good but also because he includes humor into the story.
“There are still moments of humor that happen all the time,” Johnson said.
Johnson’s book can be purchased at Barnes and Noble under the pen name of E.W. Johnson. The book can also be found on Amazon at amzn.to/2AMTEjS.