I met Dr. Richard Mabry at a conference last fall when--quite unexpectedly-- we teamed up to offer emergency medical assistance to a fellow attendee. Doctor and nurse side-by-side in much the same way we had done in our respective medical careers. I liked him right away. And though neither of us knew the writing journey of the other, just six short months later we've come to share a readership. Our books, Disaster Status and Code Blue released within scant weeks of each other as will our upcoming autumn releases, Code Triage and Medical Error. Two new series for fans of medical fiction--I couldn't be more delighted.
Today I'm excited to host an interview with Richard and offer a chance at a signed copy of his exciting debut medical suspense, CODE BLUE.
Before we start, here's a brief bio:
"After his retirement from a distinguished career as a physician and medical educator, Richard turned his talents to non-medical writing.Code Blue is his debut novel, the first of the Prescription For Trouble series, featuring "medical suspense with heart." Richard and his wife, Kay, make their home in North Texas, where he continues his struggles to master golf and be the world’s most perfect grandfather."
And a short summary of his newly released novel:
"Code Blue means more to Dr. Cathy Sewell than the cardiac emergencies she faces. It describes her mental state when she finds that returning to her hometown hasn’t brought her the peace she so desperately needs. Now two men compete for her affection; the town doctors resent the fact that she’s a woman and a newcomer; and the potentially fatal heart problem that results from one of her prescriptions may mean the end of her practice. But a killer doesn’t just want to run her out of town—they want her dead."
Now, I'm happy to introduce Dr. Richard Mabry.
CC: Welcome, Richard! I’m particularly fascinated with the passions of writers that extend beyond the computer keyboard. I've recently discovered an author who fly fishes and one who is an accomplished dancer. I understand that you are a golf enthusiast. That you’ve played at least weekly with the same partner for a decade—much the way writers often team up with a loyal critique partner.
May I challenge you then, to find some similarities between golf and writing a novel?
RM: Although golf is played in the company of others, in the end it’s a solo sport—you against that nemesis “par.” I feel sorry for authors who feel they have to outdo other writers for publicity, sales, even dollars, when they should be striving for their own personal best, no matter what their colleagues are doing.
Despite the seriousness with which some people take it, in the end a round of golf should be fun and provide a sense of accomplishment. Remember the good shots, forget the bad ones, and look forward to the next round. Likewise, an author should try to enjoy writing. Sure, sometimes we want to bang our heads on the desk as we fight deadlines and writer’s block, but getting past that can give you just as much of a lift as hitting a crisp 5-iron dead on the pin.
CC: Great analogy! I find it interesting that you chose to write your debut medical suspense from the point of view of Dr. Cathy Sewell. Any particular reason why you chose a female point of view? Were there challenges in telling your story a woman’s viewpoint? How did you handle them?
My first three novels were written from the viewpoint of a male protagonist. None of them sold. I did a little research and discovered that I had a better chance to get a story published if the protagonist was a female. It’s no coincidence that all three of the lead characters in the Prescription For Trouble series are women.
Was it a challenge? Absolutely. That’s why I give so much credit to my wife, who is my first reader. On a number of occasions, she’s said, “A woman wouldn’t react that way. Here’s what she’d say.”
CC: Your first published book, The Tender Scar, has been a source of comfort and inspiration for thousands of people struggling with grief and loss. I’m sure you hope that the Prescription for Trouble series both entertains and encourages—and reaches a multitude of readers! If, however, the underlying spiritual theme in Code Blue could positively affect (change the life) of just one reader, can you describe who you’d most want that person to be? What insight would you want that reader to gain from reading this book?
Early in my writing, Kay gave me this bit of wisdom from Christine Tangvald: Every story needs a one-word summation, a focus. For Code Blue, that word is “deliverance.” Even though Dr. Cathy Sewell tried to run away from the things that she thought had ruined her life, she couldn’t run away from God. And when she needed Him, He was there to deliver her.
CC: Put yourself back in a medical setting for these quick questions:
What hospital potluck goodie or nurses’ station snack is simply too tempting to pass by?
RM: Chocolate chip cookies. It’s almost impossible to ruin them.
CC: (Smiling) You would have loved mine--I was the official Cookie Queen of my ER.
Now, how about this question: You have scant minutes between patient exams: Hospital coffee (age undetermined)—risk it? Black, cream, sugar?
RM: Bad coffee is better than no coffee (although sometimes just barely). The older the coffee, the more cream and sugar. Fresh coffee? Just Sweet N Low.
CC: Do you have a favorite medical thriller movie?
I don’t watch medical movies or TV shows. I got enough of the real thing for almost four decades. As for movies in general, I like comedies and musicals, mostly classics that Kay and I watch on NetFlix.
CC: Because Code Blue is the first novel in your first series, you’ve undoubtedly been juggling publishing related tasks STAT—marketing the first book, editing a second, writing a third and (grin) answering interview questions like these. What aspect of being a newly published novelist do you find most challenging? Any unexpected surprises?
The whole process is challenging, just in different ways. And you’ve described the problems quite well—marketing while editing while writing while trying to have a life. Tough to keep all those balls in the air. I think what surprised me most was the need for an author to be so involved in publicity and marketing of a book. The publisher’s marketing specialist may have half a dozen books on his/her plate at any one time, while you’re totally focused on your project alone, so it stands to reason you’re going to be in the middle of the process. Unfortunately, this is an area with which most of us are totally unfamiliar, so there’s a steep learning curve to be endured.
CC: You wrote 4 novels and faced 40 rejections before final getting “the call” that heralded publication. What one piece of advice would you give aspiring authors struggling along that same path?
Don’t keep rewriting the same book a dozen times. If a book gets turned down repeatedly, take a moment to shed a tear, then consign it to a folder on your hard drive and start another. I’ve been told several times that it takes writing at least three books before an author begins to “get it.” Keep practicing your craft. It only takes one project accepted by agent and pitched to one editor to make it all come together.
CC: Care to share a favorite Scripture?
I tease that my life verse is Ecclesiastes 12:12 (“of the making of many books there is no end”) but truthfully I’ve come to fall back time and again on a Scripture that reminds me that, whatever happens, God is still sovereign and in control: “Our God is in the heavens, and he does as he wishes.” (Ps 115:3, NLT).
CC: When will Medical Error release? Will you share the storyline, please?
Medical Error is slated to release September 1, the second novel in the three-book Prescription For Trouble series. Here’s the storyline:
"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 in ruins. 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."
CC: Sounds intriguing! Thank you, Richard, it’s been great having you here at “RX: Hope”. Before we end, is there anything else that you’d like our readers to know?
Candace, it’s an honor to be here with such an excellent writer of medical fiction. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to share the story of my own journey. When I retired from medicine eight years ago, I had no idea what lay ahead of me, but God already had a plan in place. I can hardly wait to see what He has in store next.
Richard Mabry links:
I hope you've enjoyed getting to know more about Richard Mabry and his exciting "Prescription for Trouble" series. Don't forget to leave a comment below to be included in the drawing for a signed copy of CODE BLUE. I'll draw the winning name on Sunday April 25th, noon Pacific time and post the name here. Best of luck!