Interview: Barbara Ebel

The Bookie Monster interviews Barbara Ebel, M.D. author of Silent Fear: a Medical Mystery. Keep your eyes peeled for this review in March!

I agree with you about Christopher Reeves, Barb. But I just can't get behind the toothpaste Oreo!!

Give us a quick bio. A little about yourself, your work and how you got into writing.

Greetings everyone and thank you, Shay, for the interview and all that you do for authors.

I am a physician who was forced to give up the clinical aspect of my anesthesiology profession due to a physical liability. That’s what I got for thinking I was an Olympic swimmer! I still, however, keep my licenses and do other things medical related.

However, out of this came my writing. I love writing credible medicine into the background of my novels. The organism which I base Silent Fear on actually exists! I have also penned a health book and also write one of my dogs into each novel. My dogs take up a chunk of my time, especially since one of them I have trained as a therapy dog and I have a whole children’s book series about him. But, an important aspect of my novels is that they are character and plot driven and the medical parts aren’t over consuming.

I live in the woods of TN and am enjoying the writing seclusion!

Here is a list of my eBooks and paperbacks – and the Dr. Danny Tilson Novels can independently stand alone:

Silent Fear: a Medical Mystery   (The second Dr. Danny Tilson Novel) *coming this March
Operation Neurosurgeon: You neverknow…who’s in the OR.   (The first Dr. Danny Tilson Novel)
Outcome, a Novel  (There’s morethan a hurricane coming…)
Younger Next Decade: After Fifty,the Transitional Years, and what you Need to Know

Children’s books:
Chester the Chesapeake Book One
Chester the Chesapeake Book Two: Summertime
Chester the Chesapeake Book Three: Wintertime
Chester the Chesapeake Book Four: My Brother Buck

Do you find it difficult to "dumb down" your use of medical terminology in your writing?

That is actually a challenge to write in such a way as to have my readers understand some interesting medicine. I try very hard to have readers learn something. In the Dr. Danny Tilson novels, I wanted readers to understand the very basics of intracranial dynamics, especially when it comes to surgery. My husband, who knows nothing of medicine, is my reader tester!

As a physician have you ever run into cultural or language barriers that threw you for a loop?

No, actually not. I have given free ‘primary’ care medicine in clinics and have had Spanish translators available.

Are there any critiques in particular that you just can’t seem to shake?

Ha! I can’t seem to forget this one. I use real pictures of the dogs in my children’s books. Chester, the main character, is a Chesapeake Bay Retriever. (The breed is well known as hunting and being water dogs). In my books Chester is the role model for good children’s lessons, he’s a therapy dog, and he tells the stories which obviously relate to children. The product description is clear.

So…there is a review about one of Chester’s books where the reader complains that he bought the book and is totally disappointed because he expected the pictures to be of the breed retrieving fowl, hunting, etc. The pictures didn’t show any of that!

Do you laugh at your own jokes as you are writing them?

Not initially. When you let the manuscript chill for a few weeks and then go back to make changes, that’s when you should spot your humor. The other test is my husband – I get a big kick out of it when he’s reading the novel for the first time and starts chuckling in the bed beside me. That’s when I know the mission was accomplished!

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

The first book club meeting I went to after they had read Operation Neurosurgeon was heartwarming. The ladies asked me to write a sequel. I didn’t do it for the longest time, but then the desire and plot came to me out of the blue. Also, after each Chester book, I get asked by the books’ fans: “When is the next one.” That’s the reason there are four!

How long does it take you to write a book?

That’s pretty consistent so far. A novel either takes one year or three. And the children’s books take a concentrated month or two while I take hundreds of pictures of the dogs to get just the right ones. Then comes the writing of what was in my head and the formatting of the picture book. It can take a few months but I basically plunge into it and can’t do anything else during that time.

What do you do when you are not writing?

Ha! Life goes on with all the basics and dog therapy philanthropy. But, I try to hike on a regular basis.

Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?

I put that disclaimer in the beginning of my books that it’s all fiction. Will I need to go to confession? As an example, two of the funniest scenes in Operation Neurosurgeon involve Dakota (who is renamed but is actually Chester). Those two scenes with the dog actually occurred.

You are hosting a dinner party and must invite 3 famous people. Who would you choose and why?

Nelson Mandela. He’s probably the best peace keeper & iconic figure we have left alive today.

Leonardo. He’s a talented actor who picks his movie roles carefully and isn’t doing stupid things to be splashed in all the tabloids.

Laura Bush. Along with Jackie Kennedy, she takes the front row for being a first lady who shined with class, kindness, philanthropy and brains.

In ten words or less:
  • Are you a morning person or a night owl?
    • I get rid of energy before noon, then I can write!
  • If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?
    • Superman is my hero, or is it really Christopher Reeves?
  • Last thing you dressed up as for Halloween?
    • A slutty doctor, which was something I could never do!
  • Oreo’s…Bite into the entire cookie or deconstruct it?
    • I’ve reformatted Oreo’s for a Halloween party - toothpaste in the middle!
  • Quirk that annoys your spouse/friend:
    • Popping gum. Hey, that’s the icing on the cake!
  • Who is the most famous person you have met?
    • Rode an elevator once with Jackie Kennedy Onassis.
  • Would you rather be homeless for a year or be in jail for a year?
    • I’d be able to write more books comfortably in jail.  :-)
Interested in finding out more about Barbara Ebel? Stalk her on the web!

Author’s website (including book purchase links):
Twitter:   @BarbaraEbel
Amazon Author page: