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. What inspired you to switch from ER nursing to writing? What do you miss the most about practicing medicine?
In truth, I was transitioning out of ER nursing (after three decades!), and our move to Texas allowed me to gracefully retire. But it didn’t dampen my adrenaline addiction. Writing medical “hope opera” fills that void. The connection with readers is very much like the connection with my patients—that is what I missed most.
2. Out of all the stories you have written, are there any that were significantly impacted by either events and/or people?
Probably several. Most closely, I’d say the story of nurse Riley Hale (Trauma Plan) most closely follows real life because she must overcome a physical injury that threatens her ability to continue her ER practice. It’s very similar to my own journey after an equestrian accident that broke my neck.
3. Although I am aspiring to become a Paediatric Nurse, what words of wisdom do you have to pass on?
I would advise any nurse to remember to “fill the well.” Meaning give yourself some TLC, too. Nurses tend to think of themselves as unbreakable, but stress—and long term giving—takes its toll. Be good to yourself.
4. What do you like about being an author?
My quick answer would be the chance to work in my pyjamas. So much like scrubs . . . But, in truth, it’s the opportunity to reach out, touch peoples’ lives, entertain AND offer hope.
5. How difficult was it to kick start your writing career?
As difficult as seven broken ribs, a bleeding lung, broken back, and spinal cord damage! My first published work was an inspirational essay in Chicken Soup for the Nurse’s Soul, the account of a riding accident that landed me on my own trauma gurney and restored my faith. It was the first step in my writing career.
6. After reading your biography, I was amazed at how many places you have managed to visit. Are there any other places you would like to visit and are there any that were just SO good that you want to go again?
Interesting question. I’ve been SO blessed to travel. I’d still like to see Australia and New Zealand. We spent our honeymoon in Venice, and I’d go there again in a heartbeat.
7. Music seems to be another area you enjoy. Are there any instruments you are able to play or wish you could play? Do you have a favourite song?
(Smiling) I am actually music-impaired. I do tend to include lyrics (my favorite part of songs) in my novels. But, in truth, I will toss the music appreciation baton to my husband. It’s his passion, and I’m his enthusiastic karaoke groupie.
8. Every time I come to naming characters, up pops Google. I find surnames to be even tricker than first names! How do you do it?
I’ll agree it’s tough. I tend to think in terms of heritage, then (like you) google names. I just changed a hero’s surname from O’Hara to Donovan. And then googled again to make sure he wasn’t a serial killer.
9. I am sure that after your equestrian accident, your love for horses hasn’t wavered. Have you been able to get back onto your horse, especially considering your neck and spinal cord injuries? How long did it take for you to get back on?
I did get back on a horse or two after the accident—not the horse that broke my neck since I’d sold him. My love for horses is as strong as ever, soul-deep. (I still display my riding boots and my beloved mare’s bridle as part of our home décor). But my life has changed and I was advised that the damage to my neck makes riding a risk. Still, I can (and do) include horses in my novels.
10. Horses appear to be your favourite animal. How many have you had?
I have owned three. A gelding, a now-deceased mare Winter Winds (who will forever be my best friend), and her beautiful colt—who broke my neck.
11. I LOVE my “Grey’s Anatomy” and “ER”. What medical shows grabbed your attention? How medically accurate are they actually?
In my humble opinion, those shows are probably the best. I sometimes avoided watching ER because its realism felt too much like an overtime shift! Grey’s is fairly good, but adds a lot of (shall we say) supply-closet romance that isn’t realistic. And it rarely addresses issues of faith. I proposed hopeful medical fiction to help “Grey’s Anatomy find its soul.” I pray I’m accomplishing that.
12. Considering the way in which God got your attention, was there a verse that encouraged you to keep faith or that stuck out the most?
Yes, absolutely. Jeremiah 29:11, about God’s loving and hopeful plan for our lives. He certainly had one for mine.
13. Thanks so much for generously donating a signed copy of ‘Life Support’! What exciting things can you share about it? Here’s the blurb I wrote for the back cover. I think it represents the story well:
Nurse Lauren Barclay puts life on hold to keep a watchful eye on her troubled sister. It’s why she’s back in Houston. But that means confronting the brooding Physician Assistant who caused painful turmoil in her family–and left Lauren with memories her heart can’t forget.
PA and single parent Elijah Landry is no stranger to stormy relationships, including his father, who is threatening him with a restraining order. It won’t stop Eli from protecting his disabled brother—or making peace with Lauren. He wants that and so much more.
But as Lauren and Eli draw closer, a powerful hurricane roars toward Houston. Survival instincts take priority and everything changes. Can hope weather the storm?
14. Have you made any plans for writing your next book? If so, what’s it going to be about?
My next book (currently in production) is BY YOUR SIDE, the first story in my upcoming (2015) Crisis Team series. All three books are set in my native northern California and showcase the selfless and compassionate work of community crisis chaplains. I’m excited to tell their stories. Readers of the Grace Medical series will recognize the BY YOUR SIDE hero: police officer Fletcher Holt from Life Support.