A nurse who has dedicated her life to saving lives also uses her medical knowledge to find specific ways to kill the characters in her terrifying thrillers.
Alexandrea Weis, 57, who lives in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA with her husband for 30 years has written 37 books – and she used her medical training to create perfect fictional murders in many ‘between them.
The advanced nurse practitioner, who works as a clinical consultant, has killed her characters with suffocation in the library, bullets and poison.
Alexandrea said: “The shots are really cool.”
And she added, “The different types of sores can completely alter a person’s death and suffering. “
Making her medically correct deaths also improves her books, she believes.
She said, “I think doing medically accurate suspense books makes them scarier.
“As a nurse it is important to me that my books are factual, otherwise it just becomes a comedy.”
For Alexandrea, her interest in writing was sparked from an early age.
She said: “I have always been a writer – I started writing ghost stories when I was eight years old and throughout school I took honors programs, but I pursued my studies in nursing because I wanted to be able to support myself with a stable career.
“I got married and worked my way up in the medical world, but all this time I was still writing, and got to the point where I wrote five books, from historical fiction to romance. .
“It was my husband who pushed me to get them published.”
In 2007, when she was 47 years old, Alexandrea published her first book “To My Senses”, a suspenseful romance set in New Orleans in high society.
Working as a part-time nurse, she also continued to write compulsively every day, even finding time in the middle of the night.
“Since Covid, I have worked a lot as a nurse,” she said.
She added: “But I try to write every day, especially in the evening – sometimes I even write at midnight.”
For inspiration, she often draws inspiration from her hometown and the spooky homes she lived in as a child.
She said: “I am from New Orleans and grew up in the French Quarter which is famous for being haunted.”
She added, “I grew up in many haunted houses where there were noises at night, moving figures, people appearing in mirrors. We had cats and each cat lifted its head in unison and watched a ghost cross the room.
“I’m not kidding, there would be banging at night, lights going on and off, but that was totally normal for us. We were used to it. “
But of course, growing up around paranormal activity gave him a lot of material.
She said: “I love my hometown and all the scary history that surrounds it. I always try to integrate this into my work.
“I like to take all aspects of my life and use them as inspiration for writing.”
And her nursing education is essential to the planning of Alexandra’s novel.
She said, “There’s a lot of conspiracy and thinking and planning that goes into it. In a way, it’s very scientific and involves a lot of critical thinking.
“I find it really fun to discover all the intricacies and details. It’s a challenge.”
Her nursing knowledge, for example, came in handy when writing about poisonings.
“I’m still doing a lot of research on poison,” she said.
“The type of poison that can kill someone quickly – or very slowly, so much that they don’t notice it.”
And there are parallels to what she does to care for her patients – although in this case, she saves lives.
“I do this with the patients as a nurse. If we put them on a new drug, we always look at the signs and symptoms. “
But reading the work of other writers can be frustrating for the fact-oriented author.
She said: “The problem is that there are a lot of novels written where the authors don’t bother to look at the medical reasons for people’s deaths, and what they write doesn’t. meaningless.
She added, “Like when they put people on respirators. This is the biggest frustration for me in the books.
“There are so many people wrong about ICU patients, they don’t just have a tube down their throat, there is so much more to do.
“Some people think it’s too much detail, but it’s not. If you want to make it real you have to show what this person is going through. “
She continued, “For me, it’s really falling behind. As a doctor, I know only too well how people die and what happens in the process.
“I think it adds to the reality of what someone is reading and then it really hits home.”
And Alexandrea is now also invited to help other writers correct the details of their deaths.
She said: “I have two or three editors who contact me a few times a month about the books they read, and they say, ‘Alex, is that medically correct? “
“My husband and I are both medically educated so there will be movies we watch that are meant to be horror but turn into comedy because we know how unrealistic some storylines are.”
However, there is also a serious side to getting the details right.
She said: “As a nurse, I see people in the worst times of their lives, with the emotions that people go through and the things that they go through.
“I think it inspired me to put more emotion into my work because I understand it a little better.
“It’s hard to watch someone die, and it’s hard to be a family member and stay there knowing there is nothing you can do about it.”
She added, “And it’s the same with doctors, trying to do the best you can for someone and keep them as comfortable as possible, so that it lends itself to writing.
“I really believe nursing has made me a better writer.”
And the macabre reality of death is present in Alexandra’s latest book, “Have you seen me?” “
She said: “There is a particular scene in my new book where there is death from asphyxiation, but it’s really a lack of oxygen.
“When I was doing my research, I found it fascinating that there are special fire deterrent systems that suck oxygen from the room and replace it with carbon dioxide.
“If you get stuck in there you suffocate because there is no oxygen.”
She then brought her nursing knowledge to what it feels like when you know you can’t use oxygen.
She explained, “There is nothing more terrifying than not being able to breathe.
“You start to have tingling fingers and toes, and you start to lose your ability to move, then your mind starts playing tricks on you and you think you see things. “
She added, “Then the desperation comes and you do your utmost to breathe.
“I think making the books medically accurate makes them scarier because it could really happen to someone.”
But despite the fact that she spends her free time killing her characters, Alexandra’s top priority remains saving the lives of her patients.
She said: “I only understand my characters and the pain they go through so well because of the people I have met in my profession.
“I was an intensive care nurse for four years and had a lot of ventilator patients, it’s a terrible time for them and their families.
“It was my job to keep them calm and take care of them. I take this job very seriously.
She added, “Watching someone go through the recovery process and seeing them leave the hospital is the most incredible feeling.
“My patients made me the writer I am today, I wouldn’t trade my work for the world.”