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Why I decided to write a medical thriller

by Frank on June 16th, 2013

As a doctor, you devote so much of your life to the subject of medicine that writing medical thrillers really is a path of least resistance if you’re bent in the direction of writing suspense. Heck, it would be an absolute shame to waste all that research! There’s also a ready-made audience out there for medical thrillers these days, thanks to writer-doctors like Cook, Palmer and Gerritsen, who demonstrate time and again that the world of medicine is a rich vein to mine for plots, drama and characters.

I’ve been writing poems and stories since I was a teenager, and my own taste in novels is very eclectic and all inclusive. My initial impulse long ago was to write a comedic literary novel with magical realist elements, but every time I started to draft, I gravitated towards the plotting of mysterious events that needed to be unraveled. This used to irk me, but finally I just embraced it and things fell together.

For me there’s also a juicily cathartic element in writing about the medical profession. Rather than just air my frustrations in the coffee shop, I can dramatize them on the page. I can illustrate what’s good, illuminate what isn’t, and poke fun at absurdities along the way. There’s a certain tongue-in-cheek element at times in Final Mercy, such as when one of the major characters seriously proposes a ridiculous idea for a clinical study, and it is found to be “very intriguing and worthy of consideration” by his boss. In the reading and the writing of a suspense novel, medical or otherwise, there’s nothing wrong with having fun.

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