I don't remember how I stumbled across Candace Calvert's blog, but we immediately bonded as kindred spirits over our love of books and our nursing backgrounds. She lives a few towns down the road toward San Antonio, but we had never met - until the Christian Book Expo. I was turning to walk away from the ACFW booth when I heard her introduce herself as she walked up to the table. I spun around and
I can't believe we had to come all the way to Dallas to meet! And I'm so excited about your book.
I can't wait for it to come out. Every time I look at the cover, I'm covered in goosebumps myself. It’s a big dream for me to be writing these books. The subject is Critical Incidence Stress [or] Healing the Healers: a team of counselors that works in the medical & rescue communities to take care of the caregivers when stress and burnout happen. I’m happy to be writing something I enjoy and am so interested in, but to add that faith element that is just missing in so much of general fiction and in the popular shows like ER and Grey’s Anatomy. . .it’s so needed.
You have a background in ER nursing, so you didn't have to do much research, but you aren't still working as a nurse are you?
No, but I do still do Continuing Education, particularly in Critical Incidence Stress; I just finished a course in that. And the nurses and doctors I worked with in California are my medical experts, so they’re reading my scenes and catching me if I haven’t gotten something exactly right!
This is your first book, right?
Not my first book ever. I wrote a series of comic mysteries with a nurse heroine for the mainstream market, 3 which are still available in the ABA.
So has this always been a dream for you?
It's always been a dream and a calling. I got my start in writing in Chicken Soup for the Nurse’s Soul. I was an ER nurse for 30 years. And then I had a series of very tough things that happened in my life. The 3rd of my “triple whammy,” as I like to call it, is that I was thrown from my young thoroughbred, and I suffered very bad injuries. I actually had a broken back, a broken neck, a punctured lung, eight broken ribs, and partial paralysis of my dominant arm. This landed me on the other side of the stethoscope in my own ER, and it was a big awakening for me, having been a woman who considered myself very strong in the face of all these things. Finally God slowed me down and I had to find out where my strength really came from, and that was my faith. And I became reacquainted with some things that I really needed to. I wrote the story up, and it was called By Accident, an inspirational story, and it was published in Chicken Soup for the Nurse’s Soul. That was my first time to be published.
It took me a while after that. The comic mysteries just sortaa happened. But in the back of my mind, I kept hearing “You were called to write inspirational.” And I finally talked to my agent and told her I felt I was called to do something else. And she encouraged me; we thought we’d give it a shot with the medical drama because it’s so personal to me, and Tyndale loved it!
Are most of the characters in your books Christians?
Some are seekers. Some are definitely non-believers, and some are Christians. All of the books begin around some inciting event that causes critical stress. In the first book, there’s a propane explosion in a day care center with injured children, and you know the emotions that would evoke. So each person - whether a nurse, doctor, or rescue worker - is affected in some way by their own personal reaction to this trauma. The concept of healing the healers comes in with peer counseling that these medical workers do in order to help each other cope with their troubles after this incident. And faith certainly comes into play. Some people do find faith that they never knew that they needed because of this tragedy. It's encouraging. My whole message is one of hope. I feel that that's a prescription we all need, and certainly in these troubling times.
Are the books in the series sequels or stand-alones that are connected?
There are two links; one link is the concept of critical stress with the peer counseling and the event of disasters. But we are also calling this the Mercy Hospital series. All three books are set in northern California at different Mercy Hospitals. The first one is at Sierra Mercy in the gold country. The second one is on the coast at Pacific Mercy, and the third one is in San Francisco at Golden Gate Mercy. Each character is introduced in the first book and then spins off into subsequent books, so you do see the characters continue and each one again has a different inciting trauma that starts the whole drama going.
So what are you doing now and what do you see in the future?
I am working on the third book right now. As far as the future, I don’t know for sure. I have another 3-book proposal in; it depends on how well these are received. In the back of my mind I would also like to do some medical suspense as well. But right now I'm just getting these launched.
Thanks so much, Candace! And now to the book. It was scheduled for a June 1 release, but it is already available and being shipped by the online sellers such as Amazon, Christian Books, and Barnes & Noble. What a treat that something related to the medical field is early rather than late! Here's the book summary:
After her brother dies in a trauma room, nurse Claire Avery can no longer face the ER. She's determined to make a fresh start--new hospital, new career in nursing education--move forward, no turning back. But her plans fall apart when she's called to offer stress counseling for medical staff after a heartbreaking day care center explosion. Worse, she's forced back to the ER, where she clashes with Logan Caldwell, a doctor who believes touchy-feely counseling is a waste of time. He demands his staff be as tough as he is. Yet he finds himself drawn to this nurse educator . . . who just might teach him the true meaning of healing.
This book quickly found its way to my shelf of favorites. Admittedly, I've loved medical fiction since I was a kid reading Cherry Ames and Sue Barton. But some books in this genre can be ridiculously and annoyingly unrealistic and need to be classified as DNR (Do Not Resuscitate). Not this one. Candace Calvert shows she has a talent for crafting a wonderful story in an accurate setting, portraying believable characters with real-life crises and issues. The medical detail was authentic without being horrific. And the personalities are spot-on. I loved how the nurses referred to Dr. Caldwell (behind his back, of course!) as McSnarly. Unfortunately, I've worked with a doctor or two like that! As the events unfold and the characters work through the circumstances of the story, the patients aren't the only ones who experience healing.
Critical Care is already receiving rave reviews. I especially liked the comments of Harry Kraus MD, who has long been my favorite author of medical fiction:
“Finally, a reason to turn off ER and Grey's Anatomy. Here is a realistic medical drama with heart. Candace Calvert gets it right with page-turning prose, a heartwarming love story, and hope. Don’t make us wait too long for the next one!” —Harry Kraus, MD,best-selling author of Salty Like Blood and Could I Have This Dance?
For an infusion of hope, get this book STAT - read it, & repeat dosage as necessary! I can't wait until the next one, Disaster Status, comes out!
Be sure to check out Candace's website as well as her blog. and tell her I referred you!
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