Dr. Richard Mabry has a new non-fiction book out, and we're featuring it today, but he also writes fiction. I met Richard and his lovely wife when they joined the local chapter of ACFW, DFW Ready Writers.
Of course, in The Tender Scar, everything is about me and my family. It is centered around my journalings, and reveals my emotions and experiences for two years after Cynthia’s death. It was especially hard to include the writing that shows my failures, but that was the only way to truly offer help for people going through the same trials.
In fiction, I guess we write what we know, which is why my protagonist in my novels is a surgeon. I’ve incorporated a bit of my background in baseball in my first novel, and my work in academic medicine in my second. The third begins with a kidnapping--that one doesn’t reflect my experiences.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Conquered my fear of heights long enough to walk across the Capilano Suspension Bridge in Vancouver, 150 yards long and 230 feet high (that’s 23 stories). Never again!
That's some feat, Richard. I applaud you for it. When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I’ve done medical writing for decades: a number of textbooks and over a hundred professional papers. After my first wife died, I used journaling to help me through the grieving process. In 2003, I decided to attend the Glorieta Christian Writers’ Conference, hoping to find direction for using those raw journalings. It was there that I was inspired to take them and turn them into a book that would help others who had suffered a similar loss. That’s when The Tender Scar began to take form.
At the same conference, an editor told me that, although he didn’t have a need for the type of non-fiction book I had in mind, he’d like to see me try my hand at fiction, and invited me to send him a proposal. I did write that novel, and although it didn’t make it past the pub board, by that time I was hooked on writing Christian fiction.
An interesting journey, to say the least. Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
Almost all my reading is fiction. I enjoy mysteries, police procedurals, and adventure.
What other books have you written, whether published or not?
That first novel, More Than A Game, deals with a young man who fails as a professional baseball player, and goes back to complete his medical studies, only to be brought back into contact with his boyhood idol at a baseball fantasy camp. The second, Caught In The Torrent, takes that same surgeon through tumultuous events including his wife’s stalking, his own professional burnout, and his father’s death. The third novel will be my first venture into suspense.
These sound interesting to me. As with all of us, it usually takes a while to find the right publishing house. I pray that you do soon. Now on a different note, how do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
God has blessed me once more with the love of a wonderful woman, and my wife, Kay, keeps me grounded and sane. We walk (and talk) daily. I play golf once a week with an old friend. And we watch reruns of sitcoms (thanks to TiVo).
How do you choose your characters’ names?
I don’t keep a file. When writing fiction, I usually just sit down and run through the mental list of the hundreds of people I’ve met through life, combine a first and last name that seem to fit, and then figure out who they are and why they act that way.
Sounds like a good plan to me. What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
I’ve been blessed with so many things, personally and professionally, but I’d have to say that I’m most proud of this: my children (Allen, Brian, and Ann) are fine Christian men and women who continue to display the sense of values that Cynthia and I tried to instill into them.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
Judging from the way they get preferential treatment at the home of my son and daughter-in-law, I’d say a cat. I’m not sure whether people own cats or vice-versa.
What is your favorite food?
At last, an easy question. Tex-Mex food. Specifically, the #4 lunch special at La Calle Doce in Dallas’ Oak Cliff section. Tell Alma I sent you.
Sounds good to me. James and I may just have to venture over there and try it.
This was a book I felt had to be written. After Cynthia’s death, I read everything I could get my hands on, but nothing spoke to the gut-wrenching emotions and the daily quandaries I faced. In my book, each chapter begins with an excerpt from my own journaling, followed by what I hope are practical words of advice and comfort. Each chapter ends with a scripture and prayer. The reviews have been excellent, and I pray that the book continues to serve a purpose in the area of Christian grief.
If people can read The Tender Scar and see the sufficiency of God’s grace for their needs in the trying times they’re facing, it will just be another proof that He can take even a terrible tragedy and bring something positive out of it.
Thank you, Richard, for this journey into your life.
Readers, be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of The Tender Scar. Also, there's still time to leave a comment on the interview with Terry Burns.