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The Good Doctor

78,000 words - Currently in search of an agent

Mark Simon, a celebrated Vermont doctor disillusioned with modern medicine and his marriage goes to New Orleans hoping to revive his love for doctoring which he first felt treating patients in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. His trip puts him on the trail of his ancestor, Dr. Edward Taplin, who tended yellow fever patients in the 1830s in Mississippi and New Orleans before ending up in Cuba. Inspired, Simon, an erstwhile musician traveling with his guitar, adds to a rock opera he first wrote about Taplin in college. As the rock opera unfolds so too does Dr. Simon’s own operatic mid-life crisis: he realizes he has trapped himself in a life he does not want. He can’t stop thinking about his college girlfriend, Theresa Lopez, who typed the rock opera, nor about his thwarted musical career. He receives an email from Theresa whose life is also stalled, and instead of going to Cuba follows her to Puerto Rico. Hurricane Maria hits just as the two of them settle into Teresa’s mother’s beach house in Rincon and in the aftermath, Mark plunges into trying to help the locals recover. Their romance has been rekindled, but questions remain as Mark and Theresa return to New York where Mark continues working on the rock opera and tries to come to terms with his troubled past. 

The Good Doctor is a picaresque romp which ranges widely into discussions of music, religion, ethnicity and medicine with historical context on one page followed by song lyrics on the next. In writing it, I was inspired by Lin Manuel Miranda’s musical “Hamilton,” based on Ron Chernow’s book “Alexander Hamilton,” George McDonald Fraser’s Flashman novels, Anthony Doerr’s “Cloud Cuckoo Land” and my own family history. The novel has been workshopped in Elizabeth Gaffney’s A Public Space Novel Workshop and Martha Hughes’ Peripatetic Writing Workshop.

Listen to The Good Doctor Playlist - the music which inspired the novel.

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