Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Meet my Guest, Author of Medical Fiction and Thrillers, Retired Physician Lawrence W. Gold, M.D.

I met Larry while working as an editor for Moongypsy Press. I was assigned to one of his submissions, NO CURE FOR MURDER, and from then on I've been a fan and friend. Read about his amazing life and books in the bio and interview below. You're in for a treat (and not just for Halloween!)

About Larry:

I was born in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn, moved to Queens, and then, as New Yorkers say, we ascended to the Island. After graduating from Valley Stream Central High School, I went to Adelphi, a college then, a university now, and then to medical school in Chicago. The war in Vietnam interrupted my postgraduate training with a year in Colorado Springs and another as a Battalion Surgeon in Vietnam.

I spent seven months in the Central Highlands with the 4th Infantry and five months in an evacuation hospital in Long Binh outside Saigon where I ran the emergency room. I returned intact in 1968 to complete my training in internal medicine and diseases of the kidney, nephrology. I worked for twenty-three years in Berkeley, California in a hospital-based practice caring for patients with complicated illnesses often in ICU and served as Chief of Medicine.

My wife Dorlis and I retired in October 1995 and sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge for a life at sea in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. Four years later, exhausted from repairing everything on board, (often many times) we sold the sailboat and within a year took the lazy man's out; we bought a Nordic Tug, a trawler. We motored around Florida, the Bahamas, the entire East Coast and completed two 'Circle trips' to Canada and back, eight months, the first time, five months, the second.

I wrote professionally as a physician to inform but rarely to entertain, at least not on purpose. First, Do No Harm was published in April 2007. No Cure for Murder was released in August 2011. For the Love of God was published in January 2012 and The Sixth Sense in July 2012. In the last two years, I've written three screenplays based on my novels and hope to see one or more produced for the screen. I submitted my screenplay, Rage to the 80th Annual Writer's Digest contest and won honorable mention (57 out of 11,000). We live in beautiful Grass Valley with 13 year old Mike, a terrier mix and Bennie, a 7 year old purebred though enormous Yorkie.

You, the Author

I’m a retired physician and long distance sailor. I write medical fiction for its drama and, in part, to educate about medicine, its reality, ethics, and its future.

If you have 2 hours free time tonight, what would you rather do? Why?
Watch any movie or TV written by Aaron Sorkin

What kind of books do you love to read? Why?
Political thrillers, mysteries, non-fiction esp. about controversial issues.

What type of music do you enjoy relaxing to?
Classical and old-time favorites.

What is your stress buster?
Playing with the dogs. Tennis and racquetball.

What is your favorite food? What food do you seek when you’re sad, sort of a comfort food?
My wife cooks a whitefish that she caramelizes and saves a bit for a whitefish spread…great on a bagel.

Describe yourself in one word.

If a fairy grants you one wish and one wish only, what would it be? Why?
That my life was meaningful.

What’s your biggest regret in life?
Not learning the piano earlier.

What is the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done?
My life has been filled with adventure, but not craziness. I learned to fly a small plane, ride a motorcycle, scuba dive, and sail long distances.

What makes you happy/sad/disappointed/frustrated/hopeful/angry?
Human kindness gets to me. What makes me angry and disheartened is a breach of trust.

What are your wildest dreams/fantasies/kinks/quirks?
To be a concert pianist and having the talent to do so.

Your writing:

When did you write your first book? How long did it take you to write it?
My first novel was First, Do No Harm published in 2008 first by iUniverse then republished by CreateSpace in 2011. It took 6 months to write.

Did you encounter any obstacles in writing? What are they? How did you overcome them?
My biggest problems were writing medical fiction that was accurate and comprehensible. Writers groups quickly forced me to make the novels understandable and as free from jargon as possible. The other problem is editing. My early work suffered from both lack of editing and poor quality editing. Reviews remain on Amazon forever.

How did you feel when you receive your first contract? What did you do? Any celebratory dinner, dance, event, etc to commemorate the occasion?
I was overjoyed to be a ‘published author’. That was short-lived as the publisher did a terrible job.

Any writing peeves, things you wish you could improve on, things you do with exceptional talent?
I write like I think, but that need organization and simplification for the reader. I enjoy writing dialogue, and, I’m told I do it well.

What kind of books do you love/hate to write? Why?
I can’t write or even read most literary fiction. It’s too much work for the small payoff. Literary fiction is like the performance of a complicated piece of music. You can admire it, but do you really like it?

Where and when do you write? Tell us about your favorite work place and time. Any special reason?
I write on my computer in our den. I can edit anywhere.

How do you write? Do your characters come to you first or the plot or the world of the story? How do you go on from there? Maybe you can give us an example with one of your books.
The plot idea always comes first, but now that I have created a few engaging characters, I let them loose to go where they may.

What books can you recommend to aspiring writers to improve on style, character development, plot, structure, dialogue, etc.?
I have shelves filled with them. For the beginner, I recommend the Sol Stein series.

What is your must-have book for writing?
A great thesaurus. I also use Master Writer extensively.

What is your advice to aspiring writers? Writing’s a craft. Learn it, and learn it well.

Your books:

What genre(s) do you write? Why do you write the stories that you write?
I write medical fiction and thrillers.

Among those that you’ve written, which is your favorite book and why?
The Sixth Sense. It combines real drama, interesting information, and humor.

Where do you get your ideas? Do you jot them down in a notebook, in case you forgot?
They just pop into my head. If I don’t jot them into my iPhone or on paper, the odds are that they’ll be lost forever.

Which book is the closest to your heart? Why?
Patriots by Christian Appy. The ugly truth about the war in Vietnam. I served there as a medical officer.

Which of your books feature your family/friends, etc? What characters are modeled after them? Why?
None. All my characters are composites.

Which of your heroes/heroines is most similar to you? Why?
Very little is autobiographical. My characters are much more interesting, intelligent, and noble.

Have you ever wanted to write your book in one direction but your characters are moving it in another direction? What did you do in such a situation?
Happens all the time. A well-drawn character will go where he/she may.

Tell us more about your latest release Never Too Late: Is Dr. Izzy Kramer’s desire to run a marathon at age 60 a fantasy, or can she prove that it’s never too late?

Any new projects, work in progress?
I’m about 2/3 finished with a yet to be named novel that explores the benefits and the risks of the application of modern scientific techniques on human beings

Do you outline your books or wing it? Describe your process.
I only outline in retrospect (after each chapter) because it makes revision easier. How do you decide on setting? I tend to use familiar settings and situations. It’s easier to keep things true that way.

What is your favorite part of writing? The original writing is truly creative. I get off on that. I love revision. I never fail to find something that I can make better.

What is your least favorite part of writing? Line editing. I suck at it. Some writers edit excessively as they write; others wait until a novel is finished to do the bulk of editing. I edit both ways.

How much research was involved in writing your book? How did you go about it?
Extensive. Thank God for the Internet, but don’t accept things blindly.

What inspired your latest release? I’m getting older and who likes to admit their powers, of any sort, are waning.

Can you tell us about your road to publication?
Years of frustration with an agent telling me how worthy my work was, but few recognizing it.

E-books, print, or both? Any preferences? Why?
I do E-books, print and audiobooks. Sales of E-books overwhelm them all.

How much time do you spend promoting your books? Perhaps 10% of my time.

Please tell us your experiences with social media. What are your favorite and least favorite parts of it?
Social media is a necessary evil. I don’t like it, but I do it. I don’t do it enough.

What else have you written already? I have 12 novels and one non-fiction book. About 2/3 of my novels are in the Brier Hospital Series. They share characters and scene, but each one can be read independently.

Have you had other careers before becoming a writer?
I’m a retired physician and sailor.

Were you “born to write” or did you discover your passion for writing later in life?
I don’t know. I need time to write and I never had time before I retired.

Do you have a view in your writing space? What does your space look like?
I look out over our forest in the California Sierra foothills. It’s a constant source of joy.

What do you keep on your desk? What don’t I. It’s a mess, but it’s my mess.

Visit Larry at lawrencewgoldmd.com and http://drgoldsfiction.blogspot.com/


  1. This is a very comprehensive interview! I have to say that Lawrence Gold is one of my favorite author and I think I have read all his books-ah-maybe I have a couple on my kindle waiting--my memory is not what it used to be!

  2. What a great interview. Your books are great, Larry.