Welcome to Readers Write to Know! I asked you, my readers, what questions they would ask their favorite authors if given the chance. This week, I’m excited to introduce you to Richard Mabry, author of Christian medical thrillers.
I am a LONG time fan of medical thrillers. I think I am fascinated by the science as well as the thriller part of the story. Richard is a retired physician and medical professor, which means that his science is going to be scary accurate – as only the best medical thrillers are.
(An aside: My main character in A Carol for Kent is named Carol Mabry! How cool is that? It’s not a common last name.)
Please welcome Richard Mabry. I hope you enjoy his interview as much as I did. And — His publisher, Harper Collins Christian Fiction, is giving away a paperback copy of Critical Condition! See the Rafflecopter below for details.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m a physician, retired after 36 years of practice, the last ten as a professor at a prestigious medical center in Dallas. I’m not a writer by temperament, and still am amazed to find myself preparing for the publication of my seventh novel of medical suspense.
Tell us about your current release.
Critical Condition deals with the struggles of a female physician struggling to overcome an incident in her past that still haunts her while dealing with problem after problem in her life in sister who’s a recovering (she hopes) addict, a father who has just been diagnosed with leukemia, and an almost fiancé to whom she can’t quite commit. Then, when a stranger is shot dead on her front lawn, the phone calls begin, saying, “Tell me what he said before he died, or you’ll be sorry.”
Do you feel pressured to compromise your standards in order to reach a larger audience or be more successful?
When I first began writing fiction, there was no doubt in my mind that it would be from a Christian worldview. After my first few published novels, I’ll admit I had ideas of “crossing over” to the general market, but each time I tried to craft a story that would sell there, I found that I couldn’t do it. This wasn’t necessarily because it would compromise my standards. John Grisham is a great example of a Christian author who is popular in the general market but because I felt more comfortable being a bit more overt in my Christian message than most of those writers.
How do you push past the fear of your writing being average and be bold enough to sell it to a publisher?
I’ve found that I’m not alone among writers in suffering from what I call the “imposter syndrome.” From day one, every success has brought me visions of someone popping up to say, “You’re not that good.” I think we’re all afraid of being average, but the only way around that is to continue working to make each work better than the last and accepting any success as God’s gift for our lives.
What is your personal, most effective way to get past writer’s block?
I’m a believer in what Stephen King calls turning loose ‘the boys in the basement.’ When I’m stumped about where a scene should go, I put it aside and let my subconscious work on it. I go for a walk, read a novel, watch a TV program. Almost always, I get an idea of what to do next. I’ve found that, like trying to remember a name or date, the harder I try the more it seems to slip away, so I work to put the problem out of my mind until the solution comes to me.
How did you determine whether to self-publish or seek a traditional publisher?
When I started in writing, ‘self publication’ was a dirty word, often called ‘vanity publication.’ The only legitimate way to seek publication was via a traditional, royalty-paying publisher. Of course, all that has changed over the past few years, and many writers whose works had previously been released by traditional publishers have chosen to self-publish some of their work. I still like the idea of the developmental and marketing assistance a publisher offers, even if the process is slow and the monetary rewards may be less.
What made you take the plunge and finally do it?
When I was in medical practice, although I wrote or edited eight textbooks and had more than one hundred papers published in professional journals, I never aspired to non-medical writing. Then, when my wife of forty years died suddenly, I felt a desire to share my journaling with others who were hurting. I had no idea how one wrote a book, much less got it published, but I attended a writer’s conference to gain such an understanding. That’s where I not only learned enough to get started on what ultimately became The Tender Scar: Life After The Death Of A Spouse, but was challenged by James Scott Bell and Alton Gansky to try my hand at writing fiction. Four years, four unsuccessful novels, and forty rejections later, I got my first contract for the book, Code Blue.
Where ’s the strangest place you’ve ever had a great writing idea?
On a visit back to Southwestern Medical Center where I was a professor for ten years, I entered the faculty parking garage, looked around me, and thought, “This would be a great place for a kidnapping late at night.” From that idea came the initial scene of my novel, Stress Test.
Which of your characters most reflects your personality?
I put a little of myself into each story, but I probably identify most closely with Dr. Shannon Frasier, the protagonist of Critical Condition, for one reason, she has to face a lot of problems – personal and professional – and sometimes feels overwhelmed. I can’t get into specifics without spoiling the plot for readers, but let’s just say that I understand some of those situations.
Richard Mabry is a retired physician, past Vice President of the American Christian Fiction Writers, and author of “medical suspense with heart.” His novels have been a semifinalist for International Thriller Writers’ debut novel, finalists for the Carol Award and Romantic Times’ Reader’s Choice Award, and winner of the Selah Award. His latest, Critical Condition, is his seventh published novel.
Find Critical Condition at the following locations:
Richard’s publisher, Harper Collins Christian Fiction, is giving away a copy of Critical Condition to one lucky reader! See the Rafflecopter for all of the ways you can enter!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
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