The infection wasn’t supposed to happen, but it did. The treatment was supposed to take care of it, but it didn’t. Then Dr. Josh Pearson discovers why—his patients, including the former President of the United States, have been dosed with a different strain of the original virus, one that is universally fatal. The only chance for survival is treatment with an experimental drug, but the manufacturer might already have discarded its supply. As if treating the President of the United States isn’t stressful enough, the situation goes from bad to worse when Rachel Moore, a nurse Josh is falling in love with, falls ill. With the nation’s eyes on him, Josh must pull off a miracle to save a man who holds a good deal of power and the woman who holds his heart.
Story Behind Miracle Drug
Tell us a bit about the story behind your latest novel. Where did you find inspiration?
My friend and colleague, the late Dr. Michael Palmer, wrote about a physician treating the President of the US. Since there’s an ex-President living in our area, I started thinking about problems that might arise in caring for such a person. My imagination took over, and Miracle Drug was the result.
What was the hardest part about writing your novel: Getting started? Keeping it going? Finding the perfect ending?
Would you accept “All of the above?” I always start by thinking of a central theme. Then I populate the story with characters, although their make-up may change as the story progresses. Since the novel was completed and edited before Ebola became a household word, I had to imagine the actions a potentially fatal communicable disease would necessitate. And the ending changed a couple of times before I actually wrote it.
What trait do you love most about your main character?
Doctor Josh Pearson was thrust into a position for which he was unprepared, not just from a medical standpoint, but also the political power and ramifications involved with his every move. I love that he was honest with himself, yet was not afraid to make decisions regardless of their possible consequences.
When readers get to the last page, what do you hope they take away from the story?
I suppose I want them to realize that, although some of the decisions doctors make seem minor, we often have to make what are truly life and death decisions. And for these, the caring physician will lean on God.
What are you working on next?
My next novel of medical suspense, Medical Judgment, will be published next spring. Here’s more about it:
Someone is after Dr. Sarah Gordon. They’ve stalked her, then set a fire at her home, and she has no idea what will come next. Her late husband’s best friend and a recovering alcoholic detective are trying to solve the mystery before it’s too late, but both appear to be vying for her affection as well. Sarah finds herself in constant fear as the process plays out. The questions keep mounting. Who is doing this? Why are they after her? What will they do to her? Will it mean her death? And, meanwhile, whom can she trust?
Dr. Richard Mabry’s Writing Favorites
What are your ideal writing conditions?
In my office with no interruptions and no extraneous noise. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ve ever experienced them.
If you could write in a different genre, which would you choose?
I can’t imagine writing anything other than medical fiction, and since my mind already thinks that way, a suspense/thriller/mystery is just a natural. So, I don’t think I’d change.
If you could have lunch with any literary character, who would it be and why?
I’d choose Donald Westlake’s sad-sack hero, John Dortmunder. He was always moping along, waiting for a safe to fall on his head, but when it did he managed to survive and plod on. I’d love to have his resiliency.
Favorite first line of a book:
From James Scott Bell’s Try Darkness. “The nun hit me in the mouth and said, ‘Get out of my house.’”
What is your favorite writing tool?
My mind. Seriously, I occasionally use various books for reference, but the most important things I do come from thinking of what might come next. My favorite phrase is one I learned from Alton Gansky: “What if…?”
If you were trapped in a book, what fictional place would you like to explore?
I’d choose the west of the late Robert B. Parker’s Cole and Hitch series. Those were simpler times … and they didn’t have computers.
What would the title of your biography be?
If you could live a day in one of your characters’ lives, who would you choose? Explain:
Other than his kidnapping at the start of the book, Stress Test, I’d like to be Dr. Matt Newman, starting out on the road from private practice to academics. I remember those times, and they were exhilarating … for a while.
This is attributed to W. Somerset Maugham, although the true authorship is in question. Nevertheless, I think it’s true. “There are three secrets to writing a novel. Unfortunately, nobody knows what they are.”
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