Thursday, February 17, 2011

Author Spotlight and Interview with Frank Edwards, Author of Final Mercy

Dr. Jack Forester, director of the New Canterbury University Hospital emergency department, is about to win an ongoing battle to modernize the ED when he’s stymied by the power-hungry dean, Bryson Witner. Then someone tries to murder Jack’s mentor and the former dean, setting it up to look like suicide.

Bit by bit, Jack uncovers facts that suggest several other recent tragic accidents may not have been in the least accidental. The deeper he digs, the closer danger creeps, and the phrase “life or death” begins to take on a new and very personal meaning.

Read the excerpt!

He walked faster. Having skipped the media circus at the hospital, he’d caught up on his sleep, and his legs felt strong. Past the main quad and nearing the foot- bridge, he was alone yet had the odd sen- sation someone was trying to get his attention. He stopped and looked around. Nothing.

He continued. Nearer the footbridge, he felt it again. He didn’t stop this time but strode more quickly. He continued through the grove of trees along the iron fence bordering Mt. Seneca Cemetery. Then he was on the footbridge, cars siz- zling by on the wet pavement twenty-five feet below.

He was a third of the way across when he heard someone behind him.

The footsteps approached at a jogger’s pace, and the back of Gavin’s neck tin- gled. He stopped and turned. The man coming toward him wore a black sweat- shirt with the hood drawn tightly around his face.

A potent chill crept up Gavin’s back. He turned and hurried toward the hospital end of the narrow bridge, but it was still fifty feet away and the footfalls were closing.

Read the reviews!

“FINAL MERCY is a medical thriller that I couldn’t put down. I stayed up late on two consecutive nights in enthralled reading. The novelist – who is a medical doctor — not only creates a tale of suspense and intrigue, but he also gives interesting details about hospitals and medical schools and emergency medicine.”

--H.H. Gregory, reader

"What I found most exciting about the story was we know who is behind the wrong doings so it is not so much of a who did it, but a more of a why and how did they do it...I hope that the character of Dr. Jack Forester shows up again in another novel."

--Lucky Rosie's

"...if you love medical TV dramas and such, please get a copy of this book."

--Book Reviews by Molly

A Conversation with Author Frank Edwards

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

With a mother who was a natural story teller, I fell in love with books at a very early age and began writing when I was in my early teens. I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do when I graduated from high school and ended up enlisting in the Army. I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but something about the experience of being in Vietnam lit a fire in my belly to become both a physician and a writer. William Carlos Williams became my role model in medical school. After getting my MD I gravitated to emergency medicine, then a brand new specialty, because it would give me a practice where I could more easily carve out blocks of writing time, and also, I think, because it resembled what I’d done as a combat chopper pilot—spells of routine activity broken by unexpected bursts of urgent focused activity. After thirty years, these two parts of my life—medicine and writing—still compliment each other.

Where did you grow up?

I was born in what is now the inner city of Rochester, NY. My parents migrated to the suburbs when I was little, then kept moving further out into the country. Part of my teenage years were spent on the same farm of my mother’s childhood, right next to a creek full of blue gills where I taught myself to fly fish. There was an artesian well that scented every breeze from the north with rotten eggs.

What is your fondest childhood memory?

My parents didn’t have many books in the house, but they did buy a set of storybooks for us kids. This set contained all the old fables, tales, and nursery rhymes. My mother enjoyed reading to us, and I loved every one of those stories and couldn’t get enough. When I was cleaning out my parent’s house after they died a few years ago, I came across another book I’d completely loved when I was little. It was Skipper John’s Cook, by Marcia Brown, and it’s sitting this moment on a shelf not far from my desk. I love to look at the line drawings still. It’s about a boy named Si and his dog George. Si signed on as Captain John’s cook and he became very poplar with the sailors after switching their diet from beans and beans, to fish and fish, and by the time the crew got tired of fish and fish, they were home again. My mother wrote the date she bought the book on the first page. I was three.

When did you begin writing?

I had my first poem published when I was fifteen, also the same year I wrote my first short story, which was science fiction and borrowed a lot of atmosphere from George Orwell.

Do you write during the day, at night or whenever you can sneak a few moments?

I mainly write during the day. But because I can’t do it every day, I grab time whenever I can. I’ve done a lot of writing in the hospital at night when things are slow. That’s where I am right now.

What is this book about?

Final Mercy tells the story of Dr. Jack Forester, whose dream is to modernize the ER and start a training program for emergency doctors. The interim dean of the medical center, however, Dr. Bryson Witner, has begun throwing roadblocks in his path, and the reason appears to be Jack’s refusal to endorse Witner’s ambitions to become the permanent dean. Though a great many people have fallen for Witner’s charm and energy, Jack never fell under his spell. When Jack’s mentor and old friend, Dr. James Gain, returns to town suspecting that something is wrong at the Medical Center, Gavin becomes the victim to a murder attempt set up to look like suicide. Jack doesn’t buy the suicide story, and with the help of a beautiful journalist, Zellie Anderson, he begins a race against time to unravel the truth about Witner’s insanity. The tension builds as someone tries to sabotage Jack’s car, then Zellie doesn’t show up for a date and Jack Forester finds himself on the prow of a small boat in the middle of a blizzard scanning the water with a searchlight.

What inspired you to write it?

I’d been trying for ages to write a literary novel but found myself veering toward the creation of suspense stories and mysteries, and I would stop in frustration. I finally gave into the urge and the end result was Final Mercy. With me being a doctor, it was only natural to give the novel a medical setting. I’d done too much research to pass up.
Who is your biggest supporter?

I’m eternally grateful to have a wife who by and large understands that I need to write.

Who is your favorite author?

A tough question. My taste in books is very eclectic. I love fiction, non-fiction and poetry in just about equal measure. If pressed I’d have to say that my favorite novel would be A Confederacy of Dunces. The character of Ignatius J. Reilly is so beautifully realized, so human, so vital and his quest for self-expression and self-justification is so funny and improbable—I don’t know. I still can really explain why this book works so well for me. There’s just something about the language flowing out and circling up. It’s the cosmos in a teacup. My favorite poet for many years has been Billy Collins.

Was the road to publication smooth sailing or a bumpy ride?

Getting Final Mercy from a cluster of ideas to a published first novel took approximately eight years, and I learned a lot of craft through pure trial and error. Then, last summer, my editor, the talented Liz Burton of Zumaya Publications, and I spent about three weeks doing the final edit, and I cannot begin to describe what a fantastic learning experience that was. We did it in real-time on Google Documents—me in New York State and Liz in Austin, Texas—and it was wonderful, going over the story line by line, tinkering and polishing. Things I’d wrestled with for years finally fell into place. I learned more about the craft of story telling in that three weeks than I had in the previous half a decade. It mainly had to do, I think, with learning how to see each scene through the reader’s eyes.
Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

Here the link to Final Mercy’s page on Amazon: It’s available in paperback and a Kindle version. The book can also be purchased on line at Barnes and Noble, and at Zumaya Publications.

Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?

My website is I’ve got a blog there. I try to keep up a discussion about writing, and would love to have more people visit and join in.

What is the best investment you have made in promoting your book?

The modern state of book promotion is very different from what I’d expected, and is extremely dependent on the Internet. I did two things. One was to develop a relationship with a local publicist, who helped me create a good website. The other was to hook up with book promotion specialist, Dorothy Thompson at

What is one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors everywhere?

Don’t be discouraged. Persistence really is the key.

What is up next for you?

I’ve got two projects going on right now I’m very excited about—a sequel to Final Mercy, and a book of poems. The sequel is called Bedside. Jack Forester’s wife has discovered a disturbing feature about a new medical device being tested at Jack’s hospital and that has the potential to change human evolution.

Is there anything you would like to add?

Just to thank you again for this opportunity!

Frank J. Edwards was born in Rochester New York. In 1968 he entered the US Army and served a tour in Vietnam as a helicopter pilot. He received a BA with honors in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill then attended medical school at the University of Rochester, graduating with an MD in 1979. In 1989 he received an MFA in writing from Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, NC. After practicing for a decade in North Carolina, he returned to the Rochester, area in 1990 where he remains in active practice.

He has published a number of poems and short stories in literary magazines including Carolina Quarterly and The Virginia Quarterly Review, along with numerous medical articles. In 1988, Henry Holt published his first non-fiction book, Medical Malpractice: Solving the Crisis. His second non-fiction book, The M & M Files: Morbidity and Mortality Rounds in Emergency Medicine was published by Hanley & Belfus in 2002 and has become a standard text in emergency medicine.

For the past thirteen years he has taught creative writing seminars to medical students at the U of R. In 2004, the University of Rochester Press published his collection of poems and short stories, It’ll Ease the Pain.

Final Mercy is his first novel. He is married to a former emergency nurse from Canada and lives with his family on Lake Ontario near Rochester.

You can visit his website at

Final Mercy is available from Amazon as a paperback or in a Kindle edition.

No comments: