By Alexander Dworkowitz
As a physician’s assistant at Flushing Hospital Medical Center’s Emergency Department, Tolya Thomson is trained to quickly spot a patient’s trauma and treat it.
But for Thomson, the method is not limited to the white halls of the hospital.
“I start with the illness,” said Thomson, “and then I think of a story.”
Thomson, 30, has recently began a second career as an author of children’s books. Working as many as 48 hours a week at the hospital, Thomson, a resident of Kew Gardens, has found time to work on what has become her passion.
Thomson is working on a collection of books called the Smartie Series, which concentrate on medical issues to which children can relate. She recently published her first book, “Loud Lips Lucy,” which should be in bookstores this February. The story is about a girl who talks so much that she develops laryngitis and goes searching for her voice.
“I was listening to all the loud mouth little girls on the subway, and that’s how it started,” said Thomson.
Born in Colorado, Thomson came to Queens in 1998 after graduating from Cornell Medical School. She had developed an interest in children’s literature in college in Louisiana and decided to become a physician’s assistant rather than a full-fledged doctor in order to leave enough time in her life to write.
While working on ideas for her stories in 1999, Thomson’s Kew Gardens home was broken into. She caught a glimpse of the intruder, and the police called Juan Perez, a sketch artist, to help. Thomson was impressed with Perez’s sketches, and he later became her illustrator for “Loud Lips Lucy.”
For Thomson, writing children’s books is a respite from the difficult work of the emergency room.
“It’s a release,” she said. “When I’m at work and dealing with some very bad things, I just start thinking of some silly, off the wall things and it makes me laugh.”
Nevertheless, Thomson keeps the issues of medicine in mind when writing her books. At a reading of “Loud Lips Lucy” at Flushing Hospital last Thursday, Thomson stressed to the parents in the audience the need for their children to read and learn about health issues.
“Reading to your child everyday is just as important as feeding and clothing them,” she said.
“Loud Lips Lucy,” which features black characters and some Spanish dialogue, attempts to reach out to minority children.
“It’s educational and it’s full of humor, and that’s new in the field of children’s books with African-American children,” said Thomson.
“It’s multicultural; that’s why I like the book,” said Rhina McManus, a first-grade teacher at PS 20 in Flushing. McManus befriended Thomson when she read her book in front of McManus’s class.
“My kids were so engaged,” said McManus. “She’s very down to earth. She wants to relate to the kids.”
At last Thursday’s reading at Flushing Hospital, Thomson drew laughs from the children as she energetically performed her story.
“I’m silly. I’m a big kid,” she said. “I could never write something too serious.”
Reach Reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300 Ext. 141.