For most of my adult life I was physician, but I never thought of myself as a
writer. Even though I had a number of professional papers published and turned
out a number of textbooks, I had no desire to do non-medical writing—never even
considered it. But, that changed.
After the death of my first wife I set about trying to learn enough about the
writing profession to put together the non-fiction book that eventually became
THE TENDER SCAR. It was
during this time that I received a challenge casually issued by a couple of
published authors at a writer’s conference I attended: “You should try your hand
at fiction.” Although my primary aim remained writing a non-fiction book to help
others go through what I’d experienced, I decided to take up the gauntlet they
threw down. After all, how hard could it be?
Well, I learned that it’s really hard. But after four years of study, writing,
revising, and suffering rejections, I got my first offer. Along the line I
needed to come up with a catch phrase, something to put on my cards, words that
characterized what my fiction was about. An acquaintance shared this: “Medical
suspense with heart.” I thought it sounded nice, so I adopted it, and never
After producing ten published novels and three novellas I discovered that what I
was writing wasn’t always medical suspense. Sometimes it produced a rapid pulse
and cold sweats in the reader, like a thriller. At other times my plot was like
a mystery, and had readers scratching their collective heads wondering, “Who
done it?” So I decided to take a second look at the distinction among thrillers,
suspense, and mystery.
In a mystery, the protagonist or hero is trying to solve a riddle: who is the
bad guy, what did they do, where is the hiding place? In suspense, something bad
is going to happen, but the hero (and sometimes the reader) doesn’t know exactly
what and/or when. And thrillers are novels that place the main character in
jeopardy from early in the story, inciting various emotional responses from the
reader. To put it another way, as has been said
elsewhere, “It isn’t a story until something goes wrong.” And that’s what I
try to do in my novels and novellas.
So what do I write? The definitions are fairly self-evident, but the genres may
intersect, overlap, or all be present in the same book. And so what’s the
answer? I guess I write medical mystery/suspense/thriller novels. But whatever
you call them, I suppose it works because people like to read them. And that, in
the end, is the goal of all novelists.
Don't forget to comment below, you could win a copy of DOCTOR'S DILEMMA.
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
Richard has served as Vice-President of the American Christian
Fiction Writers, and is also an active member of the International Thriller
Writers and Romance Writers of America. He has taught writing-related courses at
both local and national events, including the Mount Hermon Christian Writers
Conference, Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference, and the ACFW
Medical Judgment is his tenth published novel of
medical suspense. He also is the author of two novellas. His books have been
finalists in competitions including ACFW’s Carol Award, the Romantic Times’
Inspirational Book of the Year and the Inspirational Readers Choice. His books
have received praise from reviewers and fellow authors alike.
7 comments posted.
This sounds like my type of book and I would enjoy reading DOCTOR'S DILEMMA. Your blog is interesting and added to the reasons why I think this is a winner.
(Anna Speed 1:51pm March 26)