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Interview with Richard Mabry MD

In addition to the practice of medicine, Richard's past includes a stint overseas in the US Air Force, several periods as an interim music minister, and an all-too-brief experience as a semi-pro baseball player. In other words, there’s more to him than “M.D.” covers.

What message do you hope readers take away from this book?
The hero of Fatal Trauma, just like all of us, has times of self-doubt. I want the reader to realize, as the doctor does, that God not only uses broken vessels, He can mend them as well.

Reflecting back, what do you see as most significant to your publication journey?
Many people may not know that I started on this road to writing to craft a book about my experiences following the death of my wife. After the publication of The Tender Scar, I struggled through four years/four novels/forty rejections before I gave up the idea of writing fiction. But through circumstances that only God could put in place, I received representation, got my first fiction contract, and got back to work.

How do your faith and spiritual life play into the picture and affect your storytelling?
My books reflect my own relationship with God—sometimes my faith is weak, sometimes I stumble, but He’s always there to set my feet back on the path, to bear me up in tough times. I want people to realize that, although God doesn’t cause bad things to happen, He can use even the worst of them to strengthen our faith and our witness.

Who/What spurs you to write? Where do your story and character ideas come from?
My ideas come from two factors—the things I see around me and the question Alton Gansky taught me to ask: “What if?” For example, my current novel began when another doctor at the medical school and I were talking about a resident who faced down a gunman in the emergency room. Then I asked, “What if the gunman was a member of a drug cartel?” The plot grew from there.

I’ll start with an idea of what I want to convey. Then I populate the story with characters who sometimes surprise me because they don’t behave the way I think they should. Finally, I determine a beginning, a twist in the middle (and maybe a few others along the way), and an ending that, as Jim Bell puts it, is a “knockout. “

What is your writing routine? Any quirky habits or must-have snacks?
Unlike writers who have a set schedule and try to write a given number of words a day, my routine varies with what life throws at me. Some days I write a lot. Some, not at all. My output is determined by deadlines and whether the words flow well or don’t want to go onto the page. I try to avoid snacks, and don’t drink coffee after a couple of cups in the morning. However, I may sneak a couple of chocolate kisses when I really need a lift.

What is the funniest thing that has happened to you as an author?
When I first thought about being an author, I pictured the scene in The Muppet Movie where Orson Wells, as a movie producer, says to sign Kermit, The Frog, to the “standard rich and famous contract.” After my first book was published, I guess I expected my life to be different. It wasn’t, and in retrospect, I suppose that’s good. A few people at church know what I do, but otherwise I’m just a retired doctor who writes in his spare time.

What do you think makes your style of storytelling unique?
I struggled, as do most authors, to find my “voice.” Although I guess I’ve found it, I’m still not sure what it is, but it seems to work. What probably makes my books unique is that I blend medical suspense and a touch of romance in books written from a Christian worldview. Beyond that, I can’t really describe what I do.

What led you to choose the genre in which you write?
I’ve always enjoyed suspense and thrillers, so I eventually moved into writing in that genre. And, because I have almost four decades of experience in medicine, it seemed natural to write in that sub-genre.

What do you enjoy doing when you are not writing?
My friend and attorney and I have a standing golf date each week, weather and our presence in town permitting. This began after the death of my first wife as his attempt to get me out of my shell, and has lasted for over fifteen years now.

Other than that, I enjoy reading and like to watch sports on TV.

Any parting words?
Never stop studying the craft and trying to improve as a writer, whether you’ve had twenty books or are waiting for that first contract. And always remember that we write, as Bach put it, Soli Deo Gloria—only for God’s glory.

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