Guest Post: Karen Borelli

Please welcome Karen Borelli, author of Do Grave Harm.

do grave harmA villain can be a person or thing. In my latest story, Do Grave Harm, the villain is both.

Do Grave Harm is a story about Jennifer Atkinson, a divorced breast cancer patient, who gets trapped in a radiation lab when the technician is killed outside. She feels driven to find out who would kill the man and why they did it while she was getting treatment. She’s a witness who hasn’t actually seen anything. More she’s a fighter and survivor. During October, Breast Cancer Awareness month, all proceeds from this story will be donated to metastatic breast cancer research charities.

Cancer is the obvious villainy thing. A truer villain I’ve never known.  I know breast cancer intimately. In 2014 I was diagnosed with an aggressive form called Her2+. Like Jennifer, I had a year of chemotherapy and thirty-three radiation treatments. All I could think about was fighting the disease, trying to keep my strength up to get through the treatments. Then trying to keep a good attitude through endless tests and holding my breath for the results, praying the medicines were killing the disease. That’s where the similarities between Jennifer and I stop.

Going through treatment, particularly radiation provided the fodder for the story behind Do Grave Harm. The machine that delivers the radiation is large and though my treatment time was short, you are all alone in a sterile room. Just you and the machine. I sometimes struggle with claustrophobia, usually in underground caves or narrow stairways with no windows.  I’ve never before suffered the anxiety during a medical test but during one radiation session, I realized all it would take was one slight miscalculation, one small missing bolt or screw and I would be toast.

So making cancer a villain was easy. But how does one person fight a disease that has no conscience, no morals, no soul, no physical being? Any animal (human or non) can be stopped by force or law. For some types of cancer there is no current cure. It won’t be controlled by judge or jury. So my villainy thing wasn’t going as easily as I hoped.

So we came to a person. A disease didn’t use a scalpel to kill the first victim in my story. That takes premeditation and dexterity. In short, a hand.

Was it raised in anger? Most certainly. Killing with a blade seems to be much more hostile, evil even, than other ways. What drives someone to that kind of anger?

Was the hand raised for greed? That could work, I thought. Killing because of greed has been a problem for as long as people have wanted more than they have.

What are some other reasons humans kill each other? Pity? Pride? Mercy?

Or was it raised for none of those? Alas my villainy person wasn’t going easy either.

Of course, our intrepid Jennifer, who has much more energy and curiosity than I ever would, gets all the answers, whether she wants them or not. I hope you will take the opportunity to read through the excerpt on my website or follow me on social media.


“Helpless” and “vulnerable” aren’t normally part of freelance writer Jennifer Atkinson’s vocabulary. But there’s nothing normal about her regularly scheduled radiation treatment, especially when she discovers that while she was fighting claustrophobia inside the massive machine aimed at her breast, someone was murdering the technician at the controls.

As the gruesome scene plays over and over in her mind, small details that didn’t seem significant at the time start the wheels turning. Soon she’s asking more questions than she’s answering for the seriously attractive investigating officer, Blue Bald Falls Detective Ben Manteo.

Despite Ben’s warning she should keep her nose out of it, Jennifer can’t resist using her limited energy to pick up seemingly unrelated threads that, inevitably, begin to weave themselves into a narrative. A story of lies, deceit, and betrayal that someone will go to any length to make sure never gets told…

Note: The proceeds from this story during October, breast cancer awareness month, will be donated to metastatic breast cancer research.


A southern girl, Trixie traveled north when she found the love of her life. Together, they enjoyed more than 20 years working as journalists. Now back home in Tennessee she’s writing stories that range from short hot romances with a kiss of humor to southern-flavored mysteries. She lives seven miles from the neighborhood where she grew up with two cats, an aging beagle and a host of characters waiting for her to tell their stories.


Facebook: @TrixieStilleto

Twitter: @TrixieStilletto








9 thoughts on “Guest Post: Karen Borelli”

  1. Oh, Trixie, you sent chills down my spine. Your book is next up on my TBR and I can’t wait. Well do I remember rads. (Class of ’08.) . While I was undergoing treatment there was a malfunction in one of the machines, and an accident happened. Not to me, but I was in the hallway when they rushed the patient out of the room heading for I don’t know where. Truly the stuff of nightmares.

    Liked by 1 person

        1. Although I’ve managed to pull out “we’ll keep an eye on these calcifications” or even better “you’re good for now” at the last minute, it’s a weird-ass club we belong to. I swear, I swear, I swear, I will never be cavalier. (Like that’s enough to save me.) xoxo, my friend.


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