By day, Tammy Euliano, MD is a Professor of Anesthesiology at the University of Florida where she cares for obstetric patients, teaches medical students and residents, performs research, and invents cool stuff. By night, she plays games with her family, cuddles her dogs, reads, and writes medical thrillers. Fatal Intent is her debut novel. Learn more about her and her books at her website.
Kate Downey, the protagonist in my debut novel, is quite a lot like me. Shocking for a debut author, I know. Though a few years my junior, ahem, we share careers as anesthesiologists who specialize in obstetric anesthesia and teaching medical students and residents, sometimes using a simulated operating room environment.
Our personalities overlap a bit, or did when I was her age, but there the similarities end. Instead of my tragedy-free life to date, she suffered the loss of her parents and now the traumatic brain injury of her husband. Boy, are we authors cruel, or what? I have to keep reminding my husband that Kate is not me, and he is not her comatose husband, Greg. As for her dog, I’m afraid mine is just as energetic, spoiled, and completely untrained…times two.
One of Kate’s many blessings, though, is her Great Aunt Irm, who moved in after Greg’s accident. I based this character on the favorite relative of my early-career mentor. Dr. Gravenstein was a model physician and teacher whose Aunt Irm was important in his orphaned childhood in Germany during World War II. He planted the seed that set me on this encore career as an author, so I borrowed Aunt Irm as a bit-part character, except she stole the show.
My readers and I have fallen in love with her -- her maternal instincts despite being childless, her loyalty and compassion, her mixed-up English idioms. She loves to cook and, in the opening scene, is helping her Italian friend, Carmel, prepare food for a wake. Here I offer the recipe my own Great Aunt Carmel might have offered to Aunt Irm. I love that my copy of the recipe is on card stock in her own blue cursive. Hmmm, come to think of it, I’m not sure my kids would be able to read it.
Unfortunately, Kate, like her creator, has unrefined taste buds that fail to fully appreciate her aunt’s skill in the kitchen. But she appreciates the effort, as I would. Though I suppose I’ll suffer meal prep if I get to keep my husband’s brain functioning. (See honey, I do love you…now what’s for dinner?).
Easy Italian Chicken
2 chicken breast fillets
1 whole egg beaten, combined with 1 Tbs cold water
1/2 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
1 T. olive oil
4 oz. can mushrooms, drained
1 tsp. cornstarch
3/4 cup cold water
1 chicken bouillon cube
Dip chicken in egg mixture. Then into breadcrumbs. Heat oil on medium heat. Set fillets in pan. Cook only until lightly browned. Placed on baking sheet. (Leave chicken dregs in frying pan for glaze prep.) Cook chicken at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes.
Mix cornstarch and water. Dissolve bouillon cube. Add to frying pan where chicken was cooked. Thicken a bit. Stir in mushrooms. Serve over fillets.
When her elderly patients start dying at home days after minor surgery, anesthesiologist Dr. Kate Downey wants to know why. The surgeon, not so much. When she presses, Dr. Charles Ricken places the blame squarely on her shoulders. With those shoulders currently on probation, the chief of staff sides with the surgeon and Kate is left to prove her innocence and save her career. With her husband in a coma, it's all she has left.
Aided by her eccentric Great Aunt Irm, a precocious medical student, and the son of a victim, and undeterred by threats and a break-in, she pieces together a mercy killing-for-hire scheme. The stakes rise, against her family, her colleagues, and her own life. When her husband becomes the next target, Kate is forced to make the most difficult decisions of her life.