Monday, March 29, 2010

Interview With Candace Calvert

Candace Calvert is a former ER nurse who writes medical stories that she describes as “Grey’s Anatomy finds its soul.” Her latest novel, Disaster Status, releases April 1. Be sure to leave a comment at the end of this post for the opportunity to win a signed copy.
Although Candace has lived in Texas for the past several years, I'm sorry to say that she's recently moved back to her native California. However, since it will allow her to be closer to her grandchildren, I'll forgive her. I think you'll enjoy getting to know Candace, and I appreciate her taking time away from packing to introduce herself to my readers.

RM: You’ve had some hard knocks in your life that you say shaped who you are today. Would you share some of that with my readers?

CC: Yes, hard knocks (quite literally) that I now count as blessings. Beginning in late 1996, I endured the Triple Whammy of events that turned my life into what can only be described as “a bad country song.”  First, there was the painful and unexpected end of my 24-year marriage; followed by the northern California floods of January1997. Torrential rains and breaking levees swept a tide of muddy water (and fish, crawdads, dead rabbits, pesticides!) across our little ranch, forcing this newly single mother to gather my children, make emergency arrangements for animals and evacuate on a few hours’ notice. Just a few months later, my hopes for a merciful spring were challenged when I was thrown from my young horse, ending up “on the other side of the stethoscope” in my own trauma room. I suffered eight fractured ribs, a bleeding lung, two back fractures, a broken neck and spinal cord injury. The neurosurgeon said I was millimeters from the fate of my long-time hero Christopher Reeve. I like to say that God took drastic measures to get my attention. And I began to listen.

RM: I understand that your writing career was launched by the story of your recovery, “By Accident,” published in Chicken Soup For The Nurse’s Soul. How did that come about?

CC: Journaling has been an outlet since I was a child. During the months after my accident, I spent long hours writing (typing, hunt-peck, since my right hand was too weak to hold a pen). At the request of my pastor, I wrote a testimony for my church—the story of my accident and the restoration of my faith. It was later selected out of some 2,000 entries to appear as one of 101 stories in Chicken Soup for the Nurse’s Soul. When that book hit the NYT list, I felt like I was “almost one percent of a best selling author.” And I was hooked! 

RM: How difficult was it to make the transition from ER nurse to writer?

CC: Difficult initially, because working 12 hour shifts made for little writing time. But I’m sure you’ll agree that medical folks have huge backlogs of “story material.” How can we not, when we’ve experienced the gamut of human emotion and drama (tragedy, joy, fear, hope, love, frustration, rage . . .) on a daily basis for years? We all have stories. And, for me, reaching out to readers—offering hope and encouragement while entertaining—feels natural, and much like being a nurse. I love it.

RM: Tell my readers a bit about the Mercy Hospital series.

CC: The Mercy Hospital series offers readers a chance to “scrub in” on the exciting world of emergency medicine, along with charismatic characters, pulse-pounding action, tender romance, humor, suspense--and an encouraging prescription for hope. I’m honored by this endorsement of Critical Care by author Dr. Harry Krause: “Finally a reason to turn off ER and Grey’s Anatomy. Here is realistic medical drama with heart.” My Tyndale House publicist claims that I write “Hope Opera”—I like that!

RM: And can you give us a taste of Disaster Status?

CC:  I think the back cover blurb does that well:
“Charge nurse Erin Quinn escaped personal turmoil to work on the peaceful California coast. But when a hazardous material spill places Pacific Mercy Hospital on disaster status and stresses staff, she's puts to the test. And thrown into conflict with the fire department's handsome incident commander who thinks her strategy is out of line.
Fire Captain Scott McKenna has felt the toxic effects of tragedy; he's learned to go strictly by the book to advance his career, heal his family, and protect his wounded heart. When he's forced to team with the passionately determined ER charge nurse, sparks fly. As they work to save lives, can they handle the attraction kindled between them . . . without getting burned?”

RM: What’s next from the prolific pen of Candace Calvert?

CC: I’m working on the first of several new medical dramas set in Texas—the Lone Star Mercy series. I’d also like to try my hand at romantic medical suspense; it seems natural because I’ve published mainstream mysteries, and because I always manage to infuse suspense elements into the plots of my medical dramas.

RM: And, even though this sounds like the warden when the governor denies clemency, I always ask my guests: Any last words?

CC: (Grinning) I’m delighted to see that we are already sharing a readership, Richard: Code Blue and Disaster Status are even being offered in combination on some online sites. And it appears that Code Triage and Medical Error will released simultaneously this autumn—what wonderful company! Let’s plan to continue to keep our readers scrubbed in for “double shifts”, just like in the hospital.

I’d also like to invite your readers to visit my website, my blog, RX Hope, and my FaceBook Fan Page, where I often do book giveaways. Thank you for hosting me on your blog, I’ve enjoyed this time with your readers.

Thanks, Candace. I’m looking forward to reading Disaster Status. Readers, don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a signed copy (unless it's illegal in your state). I’ll post the name of the winner in a week or so.


Caroline said...

Haven't read a lot of inspy medical novels. Would like to ck out Candace's. Enjoyed the blog & her writing journey. Thank you both for sharing.

Melinda Lancaster said...

I never tire of hearing Candace's testimony.

She's a wonderful author and friend.

Thank you for sharing this interview.


Lourdes said...

I really enjoyed Critical Care & canlt wait to read Disaster status.


Elaine said...

As a nurse, I think I'd enjoy reading Candace's book.


CandaceCalvert said...

Richard, I so appreciate your hosting me here, and your readers' gracious comments as well. LOVE that our medical novels are linked and that we share such an awesome readership. Blessings to you all. :-)

Melanie said...

I read Critical Care soon after it came out, and I really enjoyed it! Disaster Status sounds like a great addition to the series.

Rosslyn Elliott said...

Candace, I've never heard your story. If what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, you must be *very* strong by now.

My daughter is riding horses. I know there are some risks, but as a former rider myself, I believe the experience of riding is one of life's great pleasures. I can't put my girl in a box and prevent her from living, or insist that her hobbies only include knitting and scrapbooking. :-)

I enjoyed hearing about your work!

Richard Mabry said...

Thanks, Candace, for a great interview. And thanks to all of you who've stopped by and commented. Just back from Mount Hermon Christian Writer's Conference, so I haven't been able to send each of you a "thank you" email.
I'll choose a winner this weekend.

Katy McKenna said...

I have YET to read an inspy medical novel, but each one mentioned here by both Richard and Candace are on my list. LOVED your true medical drama also, Candace. Mine have been life-changing, too, but WOW! What a story you've got.

Once I get ahold of Candace's latest, featuring character Scott McKenna, it will remain on my "most treasured" shelf forever. My dad (born in Scotland) was known as Scotty McKenna, and my son is also Scott. Cool, eh?

Melanie said...

I read Critical Care soon after it came out, and I really enjoyed it! Disaster Status sounds like a great addition to the series.

Elaine said...

As a nurse, I think I'd enjoy reading Candace's book.