I have always been fascinated by the human heart, and so I wanted to write about it.
And my fascination sort of stems from three reasons, really. One is that I have a malignant family history of heart disease. My grandfather, my paternal grandfather, died when my father was only 14, years before I was born. I never met him.
And his death really affected my father and, by extension, all of us as I was growing up. So the family history played a role.
I'm also just fascinated by the fact that the heart is just such an amazing machine. It's really the most amazing machine that nature has devised. It's a machine that pumps three billion times in a typical human lifetime.
And, finally, I was just really fascinated — and I learned this more as I was researching the book — by the history of heart discovery. You know, the heart had never been operated on up until the end of the 19th century. It just — it's an organ that has unique challenges to surgical manipulation.
It's always moving, and it's filled with blood. How do you operate on it? So that history was one I really wanted to explore in the book.