Gwen Lowe works as a public health doctor in Cardiff, which is a bit like being a medical detective. Previously, she has worked as a hospital doctor and a GP, as well as a hotel washer-upper, a restaurant table cleaner and a postwoman.
Her debut novel, Alice Dent and the Incredible Germs, is a quirky story for 7+ year-olds starring a plucky new heroine. Alice catches a cold, but it’s not an ordinary cold: this one leads to trouble … Packed with dastardly villains and dark Dahl-esque humour, this story is guaranteed to make you giggle!
Here she shares with My Book Corner, why she wrote Alice Dent and the Incredible Germs.
I think I have a great job.
I’m a doctor in an interesting but little known field of public health, dealing with nasty germs and odd unexplained clusters of illness. Very much like a police detective, I work within a special team. Together we investigate what is making people ill and then take urgent action to control the situation.
Sometimes, it’s a nail-biting, twenty-four-hours-a-day job involving tense decision-making and sleepless nights. However, knowing that we’ve prevented the spread of life-threatening illness is a fantastic feeling.
But there are some dark days when no matter how hard we’ve tried, people fall ill. On the most difficult days, it’s mainly the strong bond of trust, mutual respect and friendship between us as a team that keeps us going.
On one of those really dark afternoons a number of years ago, two unexpected things happened. First, a school reported an outbreak of giggling amongst children for which no cause could be found. Next, a patient who had suffered a nasty infection called to tell us that they now felt better than they had ever felt before and were glad to have caught the germ.
And I got to thinking, what if there really were germs that made people feel happy and had good consequences, but we didn’t know about them? There are germs in real life that have amazing effects, and it seemed possible. It cheered me up a lot just thinking about it. That day I also thought about the close bond between us all in the team, and how the strongest friendships are forged in difficult times.
I realized that I wanted to write a book to give children hope; one that could contain cheerfulness and humour, but still tell an interesting story based on something that might be possible in real life. I wanted the underlying scientific principles to be sound and I knew I wanted to capture the essence of the strong bonds that bind the best teams together. But most importantly, I was determined that it had to have a happy ending.
I knew that writing such a book would cheer me up and help me get through a few of the terrible days that we sometimes see. But more than that, I hoped that it would also have the same effect on anyone who read it.
So that evening I wrote down the first ideas for what eventually turned into Alice Dent and the Incredible Germs.
ALICE DENT AND INCREDIBLE GERMS by Gwen Lowe out now in paperback (£6.99, Chicken House)