Blog Archive

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

My interview today is with Dr. Richard Mabry a retired physician turned writer. His books have been finalists in competitions      ranging from ACFW’s Carol Award to Romantic Times’ Inspirational Book of the Year. His novel, Lethal Remedy, won a 2012 Selah Award from the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference. 
You retired from a full-time career as a physician, but instead of taking up golf, you decided to write. It looks like your first book was The Tender Scar, which is about surviving your spouse. Why did you write this book?
When I retired from medicine, I had no intention of writing. However, my wife of 40 years, Cynthia, had passed away in September of 1999, and as part of my grieving process, I committed my feelings to computer entries. As I accumulated material, one of my friends suggested I turn it into a book. Unfortunately, as anyone who wants to write about personal experiences will find, it’s not easy to write a book, and even harder to get it published.

After attending a Christian writers’ conference and studying every book I could find on the craft, I finally completed The Tender Scar. At that time, it was possible to submit directly to publishers, and after numerous rejections I received an acceptance from Dennis Hillman at Kregel Publishers. The Tender Scar was published in 2006, and continues to minister to people to the present.

What did you learn from having it published?
I learned absolutely everything about writing, since I started from ground zero. Publishing has changed a great deal over the past ten years, and I’m trying (sometimes without success) to keep up with those changes.

What made you take on the challenge and write a novel? How long did it take to write your first novel? How many rewrites did you do on it?
At the same conference I mentioned above, Alton Gansky and James Scott Bell challenged me to try my hand at fiction. I decided to do just that, and it was tough. I wrote (including numerous revision) four novels that garnered forty rejections over a four year period before I got my first contract, a one-book deal from Barbara Scott, who was just getting the fiction line at Abingdon Press started.

Who encourages you in your writing? Are you involved with any critique groups or writing groups?
I’m not a member of any critique groups—I guess I’m too much of a loner. However, God has blessed me once more with the love of a wonderful woman, and my wife, Kay, is my first reader for everything I produce. She’s the reason I can write scenes from a female point of view that are accurate.

By the way, you’ll notice that the protagonists of my first four books are female. I started out with a male protagonist, but it was soon apparent that female leads were more popular—with editors and later with readers. After I had a few novels published, I’ve had sort of co-protagonists, and that’s worked well.

Fatal Trauma will be your eighth novel published since Code Blue in 2010. Are you that quick a writer? Or had they been in the works for a while?  I don’t know how long I labored on that first novel, but it seemed like forever. Since then, I’ve generally had between six and nine months to get a novel ready to send to the editor. I’d like longer, but it doesn’t work that way. My work, like every other writer’s (except those that self-publish), has to be fitted into the publisher’s release                                schedule.                                                   

How do you write? Did you do an outline first? Did you do individual character development before doing the full plot?
I’m a definite seat-of-the-pants writer. I start with a premise…what Al Gansky calls a “what if?” question. Then I populate the story, although the characters may change as the story progresses. I always have an opening scene, a middle-of-the-story surprise, and what Jim Bell calls a “knockout ending.” After that, I just write. On more than one occasion, I’ve scrapped up to ten thousand words when a book just didn’t seem to be going well. And hitting the “delete” key is hard. 

What have you learned about writing you would like to pass along? What is the best advice you’ve heard about writing?
You begin by learning the craft. Read books—good books—on plotting, character development, point of view, etc. Read Elmore Leonard’s ten rules for writers. Read books—good ones, so you’ll know what’s good, bad ones so you’ll know what’s bad. Then sit down and write. Get the work critiqued by someone who knows what they’re doing. Rewrite. Revise. Lather, rinse, repeat.

What’s coming next for your readers?
My next novel, Fatal Trauma, releases on May 19. It begins in an ER, where a physician and nurse are held at pistol-point by a man who seems to have nothing to lose. I hope my readers like it.

Sounds like an interesting read and definitely a page turner. Thanks, Richard. All the best for your continued writing.

 If you'd like to learn more about Richard and his writing. Here's the way to get started:  Check out His website. Keep up with him on his blog, his Facebook fan page, and Twitter, as well as Goodreads. 


  1. Chris, Thanks for this opportunity to interact with the readers of your blog. I hope what I've had to say will encourage some of them.

  2. I would never have figured you for an organic writer (Panster). But I love your books anyway. lol.
    I so agree with you on your advice about learning the craft. And James Scott Bell's books are some of the best...along with several others!