The writing demon was always in me. I began my first novel when a medical student. I was very busy for years and became a consultant physician in the teaching hospitals in Sheffield, working in research as well as treating patients. Then the inspiration arose again and I began to write thrillers in my very limited leisure time (Sweet Summer, Goodbye Baby Blue, Tiger Tiger) because the solving of the crime was very similar to solving the life-or-death situations I faced daily on my wards. It helped that I had a distinction in forensic medicine.

I never hid the fact that I was writing fiction, though some colleagues thought I should. Then a scientist, called Reg Saynor, working at my hospital asked me to help him write a book he thought important. He was a fish oil (omega-3) pioneer and he wanted to tell the world about the importance of omega-3s in helping to reduce the risk of a heart attack. I wrote the book in six weeks, basing it on his original research but also including my own clinical experience of dealing with and helping to reduce the risk of heart attacks. The title was “The Eskimo Diet” and it became a bestseller in the UK.

Following this I merely continued with my work as a consultant physician and my creative interest in writing thrillers. But my London-based agent persuaded me to think again. The advances on the thrillers were modest, though they were beginning to gather reviews in national newspapers. He told me that if I wrote a deeper medical science-based book I might capture a lot of imaginations. I wrote a book on the discovery of the cure for tuberculosis. I was always deeply interested since my maternal grandfather, who served in the British Royal Navy and was sunk three times in one day in World War I, had died from the disease a few years before I was born. In the UK it was titled "The Greatest Story Never Told" and in the US "The Forgotten Plague". Publishers erroneously thought it old-fashioned, a disease of the past. I knew otherwise. I was eventually forced to set up a small press publisher, Swift Publishers, with my very helpful friend, Norman Treby, to get it into print in the UK. The impact was massive, with wide media coverage. We sold a print run of 22,000 hardcovers. More importantly, it was taken up by America, where New York was threatened by a dangerous epidemic of the plague, and where the book took the front pages of the New York Times Book Review, and also the Washington Post reviews. It became one of three books of the year for the New York Times.

So, in this kind of roundabout way, I came to write non-fiction as well as fiction. I still do so to this very day.

The Mysterious World of the Human Genome
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Published on March 16, 2017 17:42 • 1,240 views • Tags: frank-ryan, non-fiction

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