What appeals to you most about writing fiction?
Since my teens, fiction has been my escape. At first, reading was my way of expanding my life past the small Texas town in which I was reared. Later, it helped me get away from the stress of life as I progressed in my education and entered medical practice.
As I began my road to writing with my non-fiction book, The Tender Scar: Life After The Death Of A Spouse, several authors, among them James Scott Bell, suggested I try my hand at fiction. The light bulb went on above my head, and the rest—as they say—is history.
Why Christian fiction?
It never occurred to me to write in any other fiction genre. That’s not to say that all my books have conversion scenes and an exposition of the Roman Road. Rather, they reflect how a relationship with God, or the lack thereof, can affect the way a character meets the reverses of life. I’ve been down those paths, and it just seemed natural to write from that perspective.
Name five things you can’t live without
1. Coffee in the morning as I watch our local news
2. Tex-Mex food, especially the salsa, at Christina’s
3. The music and preaching at Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco
4. Playing with my grandchildren
5. The support of my wife, family, and friends when I decide my writing stinks.
Favourite book ~ Favourite movie ~ Favourite TV show
-Movie: Bull Durham. Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon, and baseball. What else do you need?
-TV: The Big Bang Theory. Hilarious premise and talented cast.
Where is the most interesting place you have been?
Two places, same trip. In Thailand, where Kay and I honeymooned while I taught a medical course, she and I rode an elephant, and I almost pushed her off. (Honest, it was an accident). In Singapore we stayed in the tallest hotel I’ve ever been in and watched a thunderstorm blow through below us.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
Started off wanting to be a pilot. Later, thought about law. Then, in mid-teens, God told me I really should be a doctor. Interestingly enough, He was right. Go figure.
What are two things people might be surprised to know about you?
I played beach volleyball in Hawaii with the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Franco Harris thanked me and called me “sir” when we finished.)
I played baseball with Mickey Mantle and hit a double off Whitey Ford. (Okay, it was a baseball fantasy camp, but it still counts).
The lead character in each of your novels has been a woman, which is an unusual choice for a male writer. Do share why.
After three unsuccessful novels with male protagonists, it dawned on me that since 85% of the readers of Christian fiction are women, I might want to consider a change. And in case you wonder how I manage to write from a female viewpoint, I give all the credit to my wife, Kay. She reads my work, and often says, “A woman wouldn’t say this” or “She wouldn’t do that.” I’ve learned to listen to her, and obviously it works.
How do you come up with the medical dilemmas in your stories?
A few…very few…come from my own experience. Others from situations I’ve read about in journals, heard about from colleagues, or even seen in the news. But most of them come from my basic medical knowledge, augmented by the question Alton Gansky taught me to ask: “What if…?”
What is unique about Dr Elena Gardner?
Since I live in Texas, I thought it would be interesting to explore the relationship of a Hispanic doctor who married an Anglo from a family with a deep prejudice against other races. I didn’t want the plot to hinge on it, but definitely wanted the subtext to be there. In addition, Dr. Gardner has been through the same gut-wrenching trauma I experienced when it came time to discontinue life support for my first wife. It’s an emotion I’ll never forget, and I wanted to convey a little about how that affects the person faced with that decision.
What was your favourite scene to write in Diagnosis Death or share your favourite paragraph?
I wrote this first scene for the book before I’d even completed the synopsis. I still like it.
She stood by his bedside and waited for him to die.
Outside the room, the machines and monitors of the ICU hummed and beeped, doctors and nurses went about their business, and the hospital smell—equal parts antiseptic and despair—hung heavy in the air.
With one decisive move she flipped the switch of the respirator and stilled the machine’s rhythmic chuffing. In the silence that followed, she imagined she could hear his heartbeat fade away.
She kissed him and exhaled what passed for a prayer, her lips barely moving as she asked for peace and forgiveness—for him and for her.
She stood for a moment with her head bowed, contemplating the enormity of her action. Then she pocketed the empty syringe from the bedside table and tiptoed out of the room.
What’s next in your writing pipeline?
My fourth (and apparently final) book in the Prescription For Trouble series, Lethal Remedy, is completed and will be released by Abingdon on September 1. Now I’m working on synopses and sample chapters for three different books. I guess we’ll just have to see if a publisher is interested.
Thanks, Doc Appreciate you sharing something of yourself.
Relz Reviewz Extras
Character spotlight on Dr Elena Gardner
Character spotlight on Cathy & Will
Interview with Richard