I'm thrilled to be featuring so many debut authors this year. Welcome, Candace. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
You’ll probably find a bit of my DNA there. I was an ER nurse for three decades, so writing CRITICAL CARE was like re-entering a world of sirens, stat pages, coffee and adrenalin highs, pressure-relieving humor, baggy scrubs . . . and heart-wrenching tragedy. Only this time I sent heroine Claire Avery in my place. But I also let her drink my favorite coffee, dance the country western Two Step, and fall in love with a great guy. So that’s fair, right?
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Hmm, my middle name is Quirky. It may be a three-way tie between skydiving, swimming with stingrays, and dancing the limbo aboard a jet-powered catamaran. Or maybe climbing onto that camel at the pyramids, singing with the Newfoundland country band . . .
You sound like a very fun person to be around. When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I wrote plays for kids in the neighborhood, then discovered diaries and fell in love with journaling. I have scrawled versions of everything from JFK’s assassination to the 1969 moonwalk, to dozens of broken hearts . . . and happy endings. In school I was that kid who thought essay assignments were a reward.
I always loved essay questions on tests. Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
In fiction, I enjoy mystery, suspense, humor, women’s fiction--a wide range, from authors like John Grisham to Anne Rivers Siddons and so many in between. Sara Gruen completely draws me in. I want highly textured prose, well-developed characters, and terrific dialogue, fast-pacing . . . an overall story of hope. In non-fiction, I love Beth Moore’s humor, warmth and honesty. Her energy floors me.
What other books have you written, whether published or not?
Falling Forward was the book-of-my-heart first novel--valuable in many ways, but gathering dust; probably the best place for it. A romantic comedy, Cruise Control, garnered awards and editorial interest but has not been published. My three ABA quirky cruise mysteries, the Darcy Cavanaugh series, are still available. Those titles are Dressed to Keel, Aye Do or Die, and Mai Tai to Murder. Yes, I had fun with nautical terms.
Yes, you did. How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
I start each day with a centering quiet time that includes Bible study and other devotional reading. I also believe in the health (and sanity) benefits of exercise and deep belly laughs. And after all those hectic years in ER, I seek childish delight in small blessings.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
I choose names by sound and how they "fit" with a certain character. Occasionally I’ll honor a friend by using a derivative of his/her name. I once auctioned off a "cameo appearance" in one of my cruise mysteries for local charities, welcoming generous neighbors "onboard" as passengers. But I didn’t kill them of course.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
I’m most proud of my children, who’ve grown in character, compassion, and faith despite some daunting struggles; and of my long career as an ER nurse. Touching the lives of so many people was an incredible honor, and it’s my dream to continue that service through my CBA writing career.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
A horse, absolutely. My big bay mare, Winter Winds. No creature had a bigger heart, a softer eye . . . or was more thoroughly spoiled. I wallpapered her barn. Seriously. Ralph Lauren, the polo print.
What is your favorite food?
Appetizers. I love little bites of gorgeous food: bleu cheese, crab, smoked salmon, fresh pears, strawberries. But popcorn’s good too--movie theatre stale and dripping with butter.
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
Haven’t overcome it, but would be living a well-rounded life despite writing demands: time for exercise, play, my marriage, family, and spiritual journey. It’s tough because I’m a bit obsessive and goal oriented. Think: "Monk."
What advice would you give to an author just starting out?
Read a few good motivational and writing structure books (I love Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird and Bill Johnson’s A Story is a Promise); join groups like Faith Hope & Love (RWA) and ACFW for support, networking, instruction. Read the kinds of books you want to write. Then make writing a daily discipline. Most of all: enjoy the journey; that’s the biggest reward.
What would you like to tell us about the featured book?
My Tyndale publicist tags CRITICAL CARE "medical hope opera," and I think it fits perfectly with this generous quote from bestselling author Harry Kraus, MD: "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 heart-warming love story, and hope."
Based in part upon my own experience as a peer counselor for Critical Incident Stress, CRITICAL CARE 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.
From the back cover:
"Lord . . . heal my heart, move me forward."
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.
How can readers find you on the Internet?
Please visit my website @ http://www.candacecalvert.com/. I’m determined to give it the welcoming feel of a nurses’ lounge after a tough shift: cyber coffee, laughter, and heart-warming conversation. I’ll offer blog posts, medical tidbits, recipes, book excerpts and updates, research photos, contests, and more. Push aside that copy of Gray’s Anatomy and the discarded stethoscope, grab a cup of coffee, prop feet up your weary feet, and join me, please. We’re taking a break.
Thank you, Candace, for spending this time with us.
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