Monday, May 7, 2012

Author Interview: Candace Calvert 1/2

I can't tell you how excited I am to be interviewing Candace Calvert today and Wednesday! She's a fellow medical thriller writer, a great mentor and true friend. Her novel, Trauma Plan, just released so be sure to pick up your copy.

Welcome, Candace!

Jordyn: Tell us a little about your nursing/writing path. Were you always an ER nurse? Have you always written stories? Or, did writing come after nursing?

Candace: I was an ER nurse for more than 3 decades. Yes, (laughing) I was drafted into this calling as a mere child. Writing has always been an outlet for me, and in school I was one of those rare (and possibly odd) students who welcomed essay assignments as a treat. Though I tinkered with creative writing off and on during my adult years, it was a near-death experience that actually launched my publishing career.

In 1997, I was thrown from a horse and eventually landed “on the other side of the stethoscope” in my own trauma room. I’d suffered thoracic and multiple rib fractures, a bleeding lung, cervical fractures and a spinal cord injury. The inspirational account of that event—“By Accident”—appears in Chicken Soup for the Nurses Soul and was my first published work.

Jordyn: What was your favorite part about nursing? Least favorite part?

Candace: Favorite part: That heart-warming and goose bumpy moment when you know that “being there” for a particular patient has made a big difference in that person’s life. Least Favorite: Inflicting physical pain during necessary treatment, especially with children.

Jordyn: What do you think are some common misconceptions about nurses-- or ER nurses specifically?

Candace: People think that nurses get “tough” and immune to the pain and tragedy they experience in their careers, that there is some protective psychological flak jacket we pull on to distance ourselves. It’s so not true. As a peer counselor for Critical Incident Stress (“burn out”), I saw the profound effects that painful scenarios have on staff. One of the main reasons I write medical fiction is to reveal (and honor) the compassionate hearts behind the stethoscopes.

Jordyn: What made you decide to pursue publication?

Candace: In truth, my husband. I’d been dabbling, dreaming. One day he signed me up for an online writing class, saying, “Stop talking about writing a book and just do it.” Pushy and wonderful man.

Jordyn: What are some common medical inaccuracies you see when you read novels or watch television?

Candace: One of things that irks me most, is when a young, healthy person is the victim of trauma (gunshot, MVA, etc.), drops to the street of a huge city (meaning LOTS of hospitals!) and someone does a quick pulse check and then says with wisdom and melodrama, “He’s gone.” Excuse me? I’m sure it’s plot effective to get rid of that victim, but no CPR, no 911 call, no transport to a nearby trauma center? Where’s that “Golden Hour”?  A witnessed collapse and no one does anything. Makes me crazy.

We'll continue with Candace on Wednesday. Looking forward to seeing everyone for Part II!

Candace Calvert is a former ER nurse who believes love, laughter and faith are the best medicines. Her Mercy Hospital and Grace Medical series offer readers a chance to “scrub in” on the exciting world of emergency medicine—along with a soul-soothing prescription for hope. Wife, mother, and very proud grandmother, she makes her home in northern California.


  1. Candace, Agree with you that melodrama trumps good medical practice on TV, and sometimes in books. How about the instance when a well-known writer of legal thrillers (not you, Jim Bell) talks about a pro football player receiving IV Vicodin, when there's no such thing?
    Jordyn, thanks for letting us see more about the lady behind that stethoscope.

  2. Great interview! I love medical books! I am a 'nurse' by life experience, not by education. I am a need to know details person and am thankful for my doctors who help me understand things.
    Richard, I like your books too!

  3. I'd never thought of that! (the thing that "irks" you. ;-) I could imagine me writing a scene like that. Glad I know better now. ;)

    1. Hmm. My profile picture, has issues, doesn't it? I'm off to change it back. Ha! :)

  4. Good morning, Jordyn--I'm so delighted to be here on your amazing blog. And (waving to Richard!) love that the company reminds me of the camaraderie of my ER days. IV Vicodin? I'm imagining all those little pill fragments in the tubing . . . good gravy, folks!

    Margy: thank you for stopping by, so good to see you. "Life experience nurses" are some of my favorite people.

  5. That bugs me in fiction as well. I remember an episode of Spooks where two people died in consecutive scenes, one of whom could probably have been saved, and the other could at least have been attempted to be kept alive until the ambulance got there, but no.
    Also no-one in fiction EVER knows 'stop, drop and roll' - I had that drummed into me so hard in primary school that I could probably put out a clothing fire while sleepwalking, but in fiction - with one exception I can remember - everyone just runs about screaming.

  6. Hi Carrie--we're in agreement, for sure. LOL, though the opening scene of Trauma Plan DOES have an intoxicated homeless man on fire and waving his arms, panicking. Fortunately our hero (that handsome guy on the book cover above) is well versed in stop, drop and roll--even if he has to force the issue. Thanks coming to visit me here!

  7. Thanks so much everyone for your comments.

    So good to get to see Candace and Richard commenting in the same place. It is like family.

    All these things on medical shows-- AHHH. My most recent favorite was an episode of Flashpoint where they said, "He has no pulse and really low blood pressure-- we need to get him to the hospital!!"

    So, for Candace-- he did get to the ER but TV People!! If you don't have a pulse-- you don't have a blood pressure either-- not even a low one.

    I think Candace, Richard and I could be hired much more cheaply than some of these Hollywood types.

    For those interested-- my author beware series covers many of these issues!!

    Thanks everyone for your comments.

  8. Great interview. I too love medical thrillers- just finished reading "The Rx Factor" by J. Thomas Shaw- another great medical thriller, and have been trying to find new books to read. I will definitely be checking out "Trauma Plan."
    The Rx Factor