I was born in Salem and raised in Nahant (the smallest town in Massachusetts), both north of Boston. My roots in that area run deep, with my father’s family arriving in the 1840s and my mother’s family, in the 1890s. Much of my writing is set in this unique and magical corner of the world.
Although the idea of writing appealed to me from an early age, at one time or another I imagined ending up a meteorologist, a diplomat, a linguist or—after reading Microbe Hunters and Arrowsmith—a doctor. My love of reading and writing won out in college, where I majored in English. I volunteered at a nearby hospital and soon learned what a privilege it is to take care of others. So I applied to medical school.
I received my draft notice during my internship and served in Vietnam as a battalion surgeon and triage officer in a surgical hospital—experiences that color much of my writing. Home again, I partnered with another doctor I had met in training and we opened an office in Boston. A year after starting our practice, my partner, Dr. Betty Wood, and I got married.
I found caring for patients and bringing up a family the most satisfying work imaginable, but only had the time and energy to write patient histories and a handful of technical papers.
All that changed when Betty and I retired. I started reading like an undergraduate all over again and at long last sat down and began transcribing stuff that had been sitting in the back of my head for a lifetime. The practice of medicine and the practice of writing both involve stories, as doctor-writers such as Chekhov and Conan Doyle have shown us.
I’m not trying to match these masters, but I do have a few more stories of my own to tell.