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Interview: Frank Edwards, Author of Final Mercy

Born in Rochester, New York, Frank Edwards went on to enter the US Army in 1968, serving a tour in Vietnam as a helicopter pilot.  Mr. Edwards’ education is vast and extensive, including receiving a BA, complete with honors, in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Frank Edwards then went on to attend medical school at the University of Rochester, graduating with an MD in 1979.  In addition, he then went on to receive an MFA in writing from Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, NC.

Non-fiction books penned by Frank Edwards include Medical Malpractice: Solving the Crisis and, The M & M Files: Morbidity and Mortality Rounds in Emergency Medicine, which has become a standard text in emergency medicine.  In addition to these works, the University of Rochester Press published his collection of poems and short stories, It’ll Ease the Pain in 2004.  Final Mercy is Mr. Edwards’ first novel of fiction and is a medical thriller sure to please suspense and thriller fans near and far.  

Frank Edwards and his wife reside in Lake Ontario, near Rochester.  Readers can learn more about Mr. Edwards and his works at his website.

Please tell us a bit about your book, Final Mercy, and what you hope readers take away from reading it.

I really appreciate the chance to share some time with your readers. 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 up roadblocks, 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 wasn’t among them. When Jack’s mentor and old friend, Dr. James Gain, returns to town suspecting that something is wrong at the Medical Center, Gavin falls 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.

In Final Mercy I set out to write a thriller with well-wrought characters and a can’t-put-it-down plot.

Who are your favorite characters in the story?

I grew extremely attached, of course, to my co-protagonists, Jack Forester and Zellie Anderson. They are bright, resourceful and good-hearted people who’ve had to overcome considerable odds to be where they are in life, but for reasons beyond their control, they are also quite lonely. In other, words, they need each other, and I enjoyed seeing their relationship blossom. It was also exhilarating to create a villain like Bryson Witner — trying to make his burgeoning craziness as believable and frightening as possible. I also loved the character of Jack’s best friend from childhood, Tim Bonadonna, who is now a security guard at the medical center and an amateur actor who resembles Falstaff in more ways than one.

Do you have a favorite line or excerpt from your book?

I must admit I really liked a scene near the middle of the book where an intern is dealing with a terrible case in the ER and calls the surgical chief resident for help. Here’s a slice of it from the chief resident’s perspective:

Thirty-year-old Sarah Hopper, the on-duty surgical chief resident, was in the ICU checking on a subclavian line she’d placed that afternoon when the ER paged. Her first impulse was to run down and help out. Experience had taught her, however, that if she didn’t put up at least a token resistance, she would soon be busy beyond any human’s capacity. So, she strolled to the phone and called the ER desk.

“Hopper here. What’s up?”

“They need you in trauma,” said the ER ward clerk.

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