One of the best books I have read in 2018 was Queen of Hearts, which written by a fellow physician mom, Kimmery Martin. Her bio on her website is one of the most hilarious, down to earth descriptions I’ve read in a while. I feel a kinship with her as she describes her life away from writing. Go check out her biography HERE! You’ll chuckle for sure.
She was kind enough to sit down and give me a few minutes of her time and answer some questions for me. I feel like I would be fast friends if she lived here in Jackson. I hope you’ll check out her book, blog, and become as big of a fan as I am. I can’t wait for her next book!
Tell me a bit about yourself and your family.
“I grew up in the mountains of eastern Kentucky, and currently live in Charlotte, North Carolina with my husband, an orthopedic surgeon; and our three children: a fourteen year-old girl, a twelve year-old boy, and a seven year-old girl. We also have the world’s most high-maintenance dog.”
When did you know you wanted to become a doctor?
“In my junior year of college, I was writing a thesis paper for my psychology degree about coping mechanisms in chronically ill children. I started hanging around a hospital to watch procedures and interview people and I gradually came to realize I would be a terrible psychologist, but—maybe–a good physician. I hadn’t taken any pre-med courses, so I had to cram them all into a couple of semesters. (Which I did: I’m a scholastic machine.)
But my other inspiration for a career in medicine is a little more embarrassing. I finally copped to it in an interview with Shelf Awareness.”
Book that changed your life:
“Homer’s Odyssey, because its timeless themes of homecoming, honor, glory and righteous wrath resonated deeply with me in my formative years. Just kidding. The book that actually changed my life is Patriot Games by Tom Clancy, which I read in college. This might seem like an odd book to inspire a literal shift in the direction of one’s entire existence, but bear with me. The important thing about Patriot Games is that the protagonist is married to a badass female surgeon who impresses everyone from stone-cold terrorist killers to CIA men to the Queen of England. After finishing it, I saw no reason why I too should not be a badass surgeon and I decided to apply to medical school. Needless to say, quite a lot of effort and maturation had to occur on my part before I became a physician, but I got there in the end. Thank you, literature.”
What are you most passionate about in medicine? What is your special area of interest?
“I practice Emergency Medicine (although I am now on hiatus from the ED to fulfill my contract with Penguin Random House for two more novels.) For me, the driver in my medical career was the opportunity to walk into a patient’s room and impact their situation, right then, as best I could. It is a gift, to be able to alleviate suffering. Can we always solve problems, cure people, save lives, eradicate pain? No. Could I do something to try? Yes. And could I do it in a way to provide as much comfort as possible? Yes, mostly. I loved that.”
When did you discover your gift of writing?
“When I wrote The Queen of Hearts. It’s the first fictional thing I’d ever written outside of school, I think.”
Explain to me how you develop a book plot. Do you have a general idea and fill in details? I know you can’t have made it up as you go.
“Ah, but I did! Writers describe themselves as either plotters (outliners) or pantsers (seat-of-your-pants people.) I’m a pantser. For me the process was very character-driven: I had an idea of writing about a group of friends from medical school, and who those characters would be, but not what they’d do. This is a method of writing that leads to an absolutely massive need for revision, needless to say. The more I got into the story, the more it changed, and the more I had to go back and adjust things I’d already written.”
How do you name your characters?
“Oh, wow. I cannot remember for most of them. I know Emma’s original name was Ella, and then my daughter became very close friends with an Ella, so I changed it. For my next book, I’ve been crowd-sourcing PMG (the big online doctor-mom Facebook group.)”
How do you balance being mom, wife, doctor, and author?
“Very badly. I forget to do a lot of things. But I’ve made adjustments: some people can full-time write, doctor and parent, but I cannot. I cut back on medical work and hired more help for all the mundane crap that has to get done. I also stopped watching TV, and, sadly, cut way back on the amount of volunteering I do.”
What do you do to recharge?
“READ. I am a devoted book nerd.”
What is the best book you’ve read this year? Ever?
“Oh, now, I cannot possibly answer that. It’s like picking between children. But this year, I loved Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman and The Future of Humanity by Michio Kaku. I also read an advance copy of a memoir coming out in January called The Elephant in The Room: One Fat Man’s Quest to Get Smaller in a Growing America that was phenomenal. It’s by journalist and NPR contributor Tommy Tomlinson and it blew me away.
My all-time favorites list is constantly evolving, but here’s a sampling. I also list a lot of what I’m currently reading on my website and on Instagram.”
Check out her book reviews on her blog here.
Who is your favorite author?
“Hands down, Bill Bryson.”
And just because I like to be different: Who is your favorite golden girl?
“The sexy one? Or Betty whatever-her-name is; that chick is AWESOME.”
Parting words of wisdom to working moms? Especially doctor moms?
“Outsource the stupid stuff if you can.”