|Critical Care, Mercy Hospital Series #1|
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After her brother's tragic death fighting a fire, former trauma nurse Claire Avery can't face going back to the ER. But when she must offer staff counseling after a propane explosion in a local day care center, Claire's plan self-destructs. She's back in the ER, battling painful memories-and the handsome and surly doctor who thrives on chaos. Dr. Logan Caldwell has learned to distance himself from painful emotion. He expects his ER staff to be as tough as he is, and when hospital administration sends a beautiful but pushy education nurse to offer counseling, he'll have none of it.
Candace Calvert is an ER nurse who landed on the "other side of the stethoscope" after the equestrian accident that broke her neck and convinced her that love, laughter—and faith—are the very best medicines of all. The inspirational account of her accident and recovery appears in Chicken Soup for the Nurse's Soul and launched her writing career. The author of a madcap cruise mystery series in the secular market, Candace now eagerly follows her heart to write Christian fiction for Tyndale House. Her new medical drama 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 a soul-soothing prescription for hope. Born in northern California and the mother of two, Candace now lives in the Hill Country of Texas.
Favorite Verse: Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
Our Interview with Candace Calvert
What turned your decision to write CBA fiction?
My first published work appears in Chicken Soup for the Nurse’s Soul, the inspirational account of an equestrian accident that broke my neck and landed me “on the other side of the stethoscope.” The accident could have killed me, but also taught me the difference between being strong and having strength. That difference is faith. It wasn’t until I’d completed a series of quirky comic mysteries for the ABA that I finally answered the strong call to offer stories of encouragement and hope by writing for the CBA.
What inspired the concept for Critical Care?
I’ve always found it strange that while millions of folks tune in each week to watch TV series like ER,Grey’s Anatomy, and House, that these popular medical dramas rarely address issues of faith. Trust me, a lot of prayers are sent heavenward from hospitals--by patients, family and caregivers alike. I figured it was high time that Grey’s Anatomy finds its soul.”
Is any part of Critical Care factual?
Much of Critical Care is factual: the concept of Critical Incident Stress Management, as well as the book’s many medical scenes, and several of the northern California settings like Daffodil Hill and beautiful blue Lake Tahoe.
How closely is Critical Care based on your life experiences? Are you interested in medicine?
I was an ER nurse for three decades, a peer counselor for critical incident stress (like heroine Claire Avery), and lived in the Gold Country of northern California where this story is set. As a member of emergency medical teams, I’ve experienced a breathless range of joy and tragedy, tests of faith . . . as well as heart-warming team camaraderie and stress-relieving moments of humor. I try to share all of that with my readers.
How did you choose the setting for Critical Care?
I was born and raised in northern California, worked as a nurse there, and think that Gold Country and the Sierra mountains are amazing places.
Typically, a medical novel takes a great deal of research. Is that true with Critical Care? How do you gather information for your book?
After 30 years living and breathing ER, the settings—and the accompanying sights, smells, sounds-- are like a second home to me. I use professional and online medical resources for accuracy, and am blessed to have friends (heroic doctors, nurses, and rescue and law enforcement personnel) who kindly offer to read my manuscripts for authenticity.
How long did Critical Care take you to complete?
The initial draft of Critical Care took approximately six months to complete.
What is the symbolism for the title Critical Care?
Critical care is an easily recognizable medical term, but I love the secondary implication of the “critical care” that my characters give to fellow team members during dramatic personal struggles throughout the story. Bottom line: it is critical to care.
Do you have a favorite character in Critical Care? Why?
I have a tendency to become attached to (and protective of) my secondary and even tertiary characters. I like ER nurse Sarah Burke. She’s survived so many hard knocks. She’s seeking, and is on the poignant brink of finding her real source of hope. She’s reaching out, like she does for that elusive silver balloon in her hospital dream. Sarah’s the fictional face of the reader I’d love most to reach.
What was the most interesting fact that you learned while writing Critical Care?
That the Scripture base for this book’s theme—Jeremiah 29:11—was carved into the patio of our home by the pastor who built it. It still moves me to tears.
What are some of the challenges you face as an author?
Time and balance. Staying organized and focused to reach my deadlines while juggling other aspects of writing (editing, marketing), and yet still finding time for family and other healthy pursuits.
What aspects of being a writer do you enjoy the most?
I love the writing process itself, especially when new characters “introduce” themselves to me and start “talking” rapid-fire. Sometimes I can barely type fast enough to capture their stories. It sounds crazy, but that’s the way it works! And I love meeting and hearing from readers, finding out that I’ve touched their lives in a positive way. That’s awesome.
Are there any other new projects on the horizon?
The sequel to Critical Care (working title Disaster Status) is in the final edit stage, and I’m currently working on the third book in this Mercy Hospital Series.
Who was the person who influenced you the most with your writing?
I’d have to say my husband, Andy. Somewhere around 1999 he secretly signed me up for my first online writing course, and told me: “Stop talking about it and just do it!” Practical man, bless him.
What message would you like your readers to take away from Critical Care?
That God has a loving plan for our lives—to give us hope and a future. And that we can find comfort, relief, and true joy in that incredible blessing.
What is your greatest achievement?
Surviving the “triple whammy” of tragedies that ended in the riding accident that broke my neck; in not just falling down, but “falling forward” by seeing God’s hand in all of that. Trusting in His plan has brought me to the wonderful place where I am today. And, of course, I loved the challenges of those years in ER and am proud as can be of my beautiful children and grandchildren!
What is your goal or mission as a writer?
To write stories that entertain, encourage, and offer hope. I’d love to reach out and touch lives with my writing, much the way I did all those years as a nurse.
What do you do to get away from it all?
My husband and I love to do that literally (and geographically!) by traveling. He’s whisked me away on amazing cruises that had me hiking rainforests in Alaska, swimming with stingrays in Caribbean, roaming the ruins of Pompeii, lunching on the Nile, staring awestruck at the Sistine chapel, and scrambling aboard a camel in the shadow of the pyramids! Closer to home, I enjoy bird watching, cooking, gardening, and Beth Moore Bible studies.