ILLUMINATION Behind the Scenes: 3-D Printers and Prosthetics


First, a reminder that the 99-cent Kindle sale continues for the first four Penton Legacy books and the STORM FORCE spinoff! You can find the whole series here, including ILLUMINATION, find STORM FORCE HERE, and get the whole four-plus-spinoff-book series for Kindle for less than $10. The Audible version should be available by late October and will be narrated by Amy McFadden, who did the other books in the series (except Redemption).


Working as a journalist means, basically, that you end up knowing a little about a whole lot of things. I’m finding odd little things popping into my books from my forays into editing magazines for different universities. A couple played into ILLUMINATION.

First, from researching and writing an article about the notorious yellow fever epidemics in New Orleans in the 1800s while working for Tulane University, I learned that more than 41,000 people died in the city between 1817 and 1905. Almost 8,000 died in 1853 alone. Shortly before that, several medical doctors banded together to come up with a way to treat the fever—they eventually figured out that it came from mosquitoes—and ended up founding the Tulane School of Medicine, part of which eventually branched off into the nation’s first School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. You can read a little about it here if you’re interested.

The ILLUMINATION heroine, Shay, is a researcher in the school studying tropical fevers when she’s dragged into the vampire mess. Without at least a passing knowledge of the tropical medicine research being done there and some of what led to it, the story would have had a different heroine and a whole different storyline.

Something I learned about more recently at Auburn University is the work that industrial design and engineering researchers are doing with 3-D printers—specifically, using them to produce much lower-cost prosthetics for amputees. Our magazine did a story about a young police detective who lost most of his right hand—his dominant hand—in an accident. As a class project, a group of students created a series of prosthetics for him that would help him get more of his life back. He ended up leaving law enforcement, but he can shoot again…and play a guitar. You can read the original story here on page 44 if you’re interested.

I won’t give away exactly WHY this knowledge came in handy in ILLUMINATION, only that the book is set in Penton, about 25 miles from Auburn, so it’s not too far-fetched that someone with a keen, curious mind (i.e., Will Ludlam) might know about the 3-D prosthetic possibilities.

As is the case with most books (for me, anyway), I hadn’t planned to use the 3-D printing—or the need for it—when I plotted ILLUMINATION. Not until I actually got to the need for it, and—poof—there the memory lay, ripe for the plucking! Well, okay, maybe Will told me about it…..

4 thoughts on “ILLUMINATION Behind the Scenes: 3-D Printers and Prosthetics

  1. The trivia an author gathers seems to bloom as interesting plot developments. Thanks for sharing.

  2. LOL. I never know what’s going to come in handy–funny what’s floating around there in the backs of our minds waiting to be needed for something 🙂