Former physician turned writer, Richard Mabry M.D. combines his medical knowledge with a love of suspense in his debut series, Prescription for Trouble. If you enjoy medical mysteries, pick up your copy of Code Blue stat!
Over to you, Richard:~
If you could have chosen your own name, what would it be?
Did you have a special toy that went everywhere with you when you were young? Please describe.
Not a toy, but a patchwork quilt that my grandmother made. Dragged it around like Linus until it fell apart.
If you were stranded on a desert island what one object would you want with you? (Besides your Bible)
A computer with high speed Internet access.
What’s your favourite ice cream flavour?
German chocolate cake
What did you want to be when you grew up?
At first, I wanted to be a pilot (because my uncle was a fighter pilot in World War II). In my early ‘teens I decided I’d be a lawyer, because I was good at debate. Between my junior and senior years in high school, God told me I was going to be a physician. Surprisingly enough, for that age, I listened to Him. Glad I did.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Back to Freudenstadt, in Germany’s Black Forest, to relax and unwind.
Bull Durham (Susan Sarandan, Kevin Costner, and baseball—what a trifecta).
ER, General Hospital, Scrubs or M*A*S*H?!
Of the four,MASH is the only one I’ve watched. Liked it as much for the military slant as for the medical. (I served three years in the Air Force).
Baseball, basketball or gridiron? (I’d put cricket in there but don’t like my chances!)
To play? Baseball. To watch? Football. To totally confuse me? Cricket.
Where’s the most interesting place you have been?
Too many to list, but the one that stands out is Petra (“the rose-red city half as old as time”) in Jordan.
Great Barrier Reef, Uluru (Ayers Rock) or Sydney Harbour Bridge?
Love beautiful scenery, so Uluru.
What’s your most fervent prayer?
I agree with Anne Lamott that there are really only two prayers—“please, please, please” and “thank you, thank you, thank you.” I utter them both a lot.
What is your favourite Bible verse (or “one” of your favorites) and what does it mean to you?
Romans 8:38-39. These verses took on new meaning for me after the death of my first wife, Cynthia. I still use them when I sign copies of The Tender Scar: Life After The Death Of A Spouse.
Where did you go on your first date with your wife, Kay?
El Fenix restaurant in Dallas, near the medical school where we both worked. Enjoyed Tex-Mex food, talked for two hours, emerged to find that a tornado had struck just thirty miles away and we were totally unaware of it.
You are a husband, father, grandfather, physician, teacher and writer. What do you believe is your greatest achievement in life so far?
Professional accomplishments notwithstanding, I’m proudest of my children and grandchildren.
Ask each of your grandchildren one thing they love about you and share it with us, please!
My twelve-year-old grandson loves me because I teach him about baseball. The five-year-old loves me because I give him his favorite junk food (Doritos). The two- and one-year-old girls are withholding their votes for now.
My readers recently submitted questions to ask authors ~ the questions in italics are their contributions (thanks, guys!)
How does your writing impact on your faith?
With me, it’s the other way around. My faith affects my writing—I try to live my faith each day, and that includes incorporating it into my writing.
How does God use your writing to teach you lessons of your own?
Sometimes my plotting causes me to rethink my own behavior. There are times when I write about a character doing something, only to pause and think, “I wouldn’t do that myself—but I should.”
How do you describe your walk with Jesus?
Stumbling forward, trying to keep my eye on the One who is leading the way.
Pet peeves in Christian fiction?
What Christian fiction do you read?
Mainly thrillers and suspense: most recently James Scott Bell and Brandilyn Collins.
What matters most to you in this life?
“…Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” Heb. 12:1b
What is your process in developing characters for your novels?
I first consider what I picture them doing. Then I choose their profession, fill in their background, and finally write a sketch that includes their physical characteristics, what kind of car they drive, etc. Somewhere along the line I choose a name that I think fits them (and that isn’t too similar to that of another character).
How do you feel about overt “plan of salvation” novels, vs. those that are faith-based but leave it to the reader to understand the message?
I’m not comfortable writing the former type, although some people write them well, and some readers clamour for them. As I said before, I commit my own faith to the printed page in the way the characters live their lives, face adversity, and encounter God along the way. I learned long ago that as a Christian my goal is to plant the seed. But I definitely have to see that it’s been planted and watered as the novel winds down.
What’s your number one best way to carve time to write out of your busy schedule?
Who says I’m able to regularly carve out time? I write best (and complain most) when under deadline. That’s when I sequester myself in my office for a couple of hours after breakfast and again in the afternoon. Beyond that, I try to write several mornings a week. But, as we all know, sometimes life gets in the way, most often in the form of family obligations. And, frankly, I think those come first.
What was the most difficult book for you to write in terms of research, character development, etc?
Like most writers, I’ve written several novels that were never published. These early works posed the greatest problem in that area, because I was a total neophyte, learning along the way.
As far as everyday people go, who has influenced you or helped you the most in your Christian walk?
God has blessed me twice with the love of a wonderful woman. My late wife, Cynthia, and my wife, Kay, have helped me stay on track, providing a great example and gentle encouragement.
What’s your favorite kind of pizza?
Thin crust pizza with ground beef, mushrooms, and black olives, generally consumed while watching the Dallas Cowboys play football on TV.
Please describe each of your main characters with one word.
Dr. Anna Sewell: tortured
Will Kennedy: steady
Dr. Marcus Bell: enigmatic
Ella Mae Mercer: mysterious
Dr. Josh Samuels: insightful
Dr. Arthur Harshman: curmudgeonly
How did you choose their names?
I simply tried to come up with names that fit the characters, while not sounding too much like those of other characters. Of course, there was a reason for picking the names of Dr. Arthur Harshman and Dr. Josh Samuels. Maybe my readers can figure that one out after they’re read the book.
Cathy suffers greatly from the rejection of other established doctors and their reluctance to give her hospital privileges. Did you observe that behaviour towards new and/or female doctors a lot during your career?
This is rare, but it does happen. On the other hand, if I’d written about how loving and accepting the town doctors were, it would have been a short and very boring novel.
Your first book was non-fiction, The Tender Scar, written following the death of your first wife. How has your writing experience been different this time around with a novel?
As different as cheese and chalk. The Tender Scar was based on my journaling done for two years after Cynthia died. I used segments of those thoughts as a jumping off place to detail my experiences, my failures and successes, and my advice. The material was there, I just had to identify it and put it into proper form.
On the other hand, fiction requires pulling a plot out of thin air and populating it. For each novel, I had a rough idea of how things were going to turn out, but I was in total control of the flow of the plot. It was a real challenge to pull that off. Hope I did it successfully with Code Blue.
Medical Error releases in September, 2010. A sneak peek, please?
Dr. Anna McIntyre’s life was going along just fine until someone else started living it. Her patient died because of an identity mix-up, her medical career is in jeopardy because of forged prescriptions, and her credit is slipping away. She thought things couldn’t get worse, but that was before she opened the envelope and saw a positive HIV test with her name on it.
Her allies are two men who are also competing for her affection. Dr. Nick Valentine is a cynic who carries a load of guilt. Attorney Ross Donovan is a recovering alcoholic. The deeper Anna digs to discover who’s behind the identity thefts, the higher the stakes. Finally, when her life is on the line, Anna finds that her determination to clear her name might have been a prescription for trouble.
Care to share what is in your writing pipeline now?
I’m awaiting the macro-edits for the third novel in the Prescription For Trouble series, Diagnosis Death. Here’s a taste:
After her comatose husband died in the ICU while on life support, the whispers about Dr. Allison Williams began. They were stronger when another of her critically ill patients died. After she took up practice in a small town, the whispers turned to a shout: “mercy killing.” What was the dark secret that kept Allison’s lips sealed when she should be defending herself?
I’m also starting work on my fourth novel, as yet uncontracted. It’s about an antibiotic that is saving thousands of lives. Unfortunately it’s soon evident that the drug has potentially lethal late effects that were hidden by one of the developers. Soon the race is on to discover the person who has the key to reversing the process.
Thanks so much, Richard, for spending your valuable time with us at Relz Reviewz. Looking forward to the rest of your Prescription for Trouble series
Relz Reviewz Extras
Review of Code Blue
Character spotlight on Cathy & Will
Read the first chapter of Code Blue