It's my pleasure to welcome back to the blog one of the nicest guys I know in the writing biz, Richard "Doc" Mabry!
A: Absolutely not. I practiced medicine for thirty-six years, the last ten as a professor at a medical school, and as such I wrote or edited eight textbooks and over a hundred professional papers, but I had no aspirations to write beyond that. Then, after my first wife died, I used journaling as a coping tool, and friends urged me to use that material as the jumping off point for a book to help others suffering through grief. It took me several years to learn the craft well enough to write the book, but The Tender Scar: Life After The Death Of A Spouse was published in 2006 and continues a ministry of which I’m proud.
At my first writing conference, authors Alton Gansky and James Scott Bell encouraged me to try my hand at fiction. Four unsuccessful novels, forty rejections, and four years later my first novel was published. Lethal Remedy is my fourth novel of medical suspense.
Q: What was your inspiration for Lethal Remedy?
A: At my first writing conference, Alton Gansky told us that the concept of most of his stories begins by his asking “what if?” Although I’m retired from medicine, I keep up with it, and I was concerned by the continuing development of bacterial strains that are resistant to available antibiotics. I let my mind wander until I asked, “What if there were a resistant bacteria that caused infection that was universally fatal? And what if someone—a drug company, a doctor doing research—developed an antibiotic that would cure that infection, but with potential complications that were lethal themselves? And what if one of those someones decided to cover up the potential complications, so that they only show up after it’s too late?
There, in a nutshell, is the premise for Lethal Remedy. Simple, right?
Q: How long does it take you to complete a novel? How many drafts do you go through?
A: Ideally, I’d like to have a year to plot out and complete a novel to the point of a finished manuscript. Notice, I said “ideally.” In actuality, although I had a year to write and polish my first two novels, the third and fourth were written to a contracted deadline, and I completed each of them in six months. I think that may be good in some ways, because when you’re working without the pressure of time constraints, there’s often a tendency to revise and reshape that results in the loss of the original freshness of the work.
It’s hard to say how many drafts I go through, since I don’t do a rough draft per se to start. Rather, I write the first chapter or two, then when I go back to write the next chapter I read through the preceding work and edit it. That gets me back into the story, in addition to smoothing out rough edges as I go. Then, after the whole novel is completed, I go back over it at least twice more. Of course, my editor then does the same thing, but it makes me feel good to submit a manuscript that’s the best I can make it.
Q: How does your faith impact your writing?
A: I write from a Christian worldview, but rather than altar calls and evangelical pleadings, the Christian message in my writing is portrayed through the way the characters handle themselves in the face of misfortune. Some of them have deep faith, some have faith that has faltered or even disappeared, but there’s always a Christian message, and generally an applicable Scripture passage or two. I want the reader, when they finish the book, to walk away thinking about what they’ve read and how it might impact their own lives.
Q: How do you deal with writer’s block?
A: I wish I could say I’ve never experienced it, but that would be a lie. I believe every writer will at times hit a wall where the idea that advances the story just won’t come. What generally works for me is to put the work aside and do something else—write a short meditation, compose a blog post, go play golf (especially go play golf)—and then sleep on it. Maybe it’s inspiration, maybe it’s what Stephen King calls “putting the boys in the basement to work.” In any case, often I’ll wake up with the idea I need.
Q: Do you plot out your story ahead of time, or do you think it up as you go?
A: I’m most comfortable writing “by the seat of my pants.” For my first two novels, that was fine because I didn’t have to sell them to anyone until they were completed. But after that I had to write a synopsis to go along with sample chapters for submission through my agent to editors. To comply, I write a summary in as much detail as I can, but generally find that I have to change a few things as I go along. I guess you can say that now I’m half plotter, half pantser.
Q: After becoming a published author, what surprised you the most?
A: I was initially surprised that there wasn’t a banner headline in the newspaper and that people weren’t ringing my doorbell to get my autograph. (Just kidding). Seriously, I think I was most surprised at how many of my fellow authors offered genuine, heartfelt congratulations. Unlike so many areas, Christian writing is populated by people who, although they’re in a sense competing for a limited number of slots, are always supportive of the efforts of the people vying for the same slots. That’s neat.
I agree. The community of Christian authors is pretty awesome. Thanks so much for visiting with us today!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Richard Mabry retired from medicine after a distinguished career as a respected clinician, teacher, writer, and researcher. He entered the field of non-medical writing with the publication of his book, The Tender Scar: Life After The Death Of A Spouse, written after the death of his first wife.
He is a member of International Thriller Writers and serves as Vice-President of the American Christian Fiction Writers.
Dr. Sara Miles’ patient is on the threshold of death from an overwhelming, highly resistant infection with Staphylococcus luciferus, known to doctors as “the killer.” Only an experimental antibiotic, developed and administered by Sara’s ex-husband, Dr. Jack Ingersoll, can save the girl's life.
Crushed by the death of his wife, retired physician Dr. John Ramsey is searching to pull himself from the depths of depression by returning to medicine as a member of the medical school faculty. But his decision could prove fatal.
Potentially lethal late effects from the “wonder drug” send Sara and her colleague, Dr. Rip Pearson, on a hunt for hidden critical data. Can they find the answer and reverse the changes before it’s too late?
WIN THE BOOK
If you’d like to be entered to win a copy of Lethal Remedy, just leave a comment on this blog. I’ll pick a winner at random on Wednesday, September 13th. (NOTE: This time round, US addresses only. Thanks.) Please leave an email address so I can contact you if you're the winner. (To prevent spammers from trolling for your email, please use this format with the brackets--you [at] yourmail [dot] com--or something similar.) Good luck!