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Dr. Keith D. Wilson: Dr. Death Only to His Writer Friends

April 23, 2010
Written by: , Filed in: Breast Imaging
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The first in our Radiologists are Real (People Too) series: the avocational sides of radiologists

“A cold October mist closed in around him and left him alone in a world with no horizon, surrounded by death.”
from Life Form, by Keith D. Wilson, MD

When he isn’t in the fictional world of one of his books, Dr. Wilson is in his everyday environment, as medical director of the PET-CT and MRI office or at the Breast Care Center at Toledo Hospital in Ohio.

“I love my profession as a radiologist specializing in breast imaging,” Dr. Wilson said especially for Radiology Daily, “but writing is my passion. There are nights when I’m completely exhausted after a hard day at work. But once I start writing I forget all about that, and I can write late into the night.”

Besides the medical suspense novel Life Form, Dr. Wilson has written Cause of Death and Code Blue, both of which are reference books for other writers and explain forensic medicine or modern hospital procedures, complications and mistakes. He has recently published Plunder, another medical suspense novel.

“I have always loved reading. My novels are fast-paced thrillers, with strong characters and high stakes, the kind of books I enjoy reading,” Dr. Wilson said. “I wrote the non-fiction book Cause of Death to help writers…[who] would come to me at conferences and ask questions on death and dying.” (The other writers subsequently began calling him “Dr. Death.”) “While no one actually knows what it’s like to die, there is a lot of information dealing with the process of dying, causes of death, and what happens to the body after death,” he said.

“The non-fiction books are much harder to write because you want to get all the facts correct. And present the material in such a way that it is informative. However, novels are fun and exciting; you create and bring to life characters that do not exist, and plop them into horrible circumstances,” he said.

And he does plop, or, rather, he deftly dances his characters from the ER to thoroughbred stables to rappelling ropes on granite cliffs, to ultralights, to thermonuclear fusion plants, and back to the hospital.

From Life Forms: “Dr. Ebner was short, barely over five feet, and the lab coat that hung just above his shoes and his rolled-up sleeves gave him the appearance of an old leprechaun. He wore his stethoscope around his neck like a black charm.”

“His smudged glasses clicked against the eyepieces as he squinted into them, moving slides under the high-powered field with the agility of a dealer shuffling cards.”

Although he has won awards in the Hemingway Short Story Contest and The National Writer’s Club contest, medicine is what he really knows best, he says. And he does always come back to it, as he writes in the prologue of Plunder:

“Evans stood up and stared down at the lifeless priest.  He noticed an odd odor that came from the priest’s breath.  It was familiar, but he couldn’t place it.  Then it hit him.  

“The smell on his breath was mildew.”

The rest, ah, the rest is available in bookstores.

Related seminar: Breast & Women’s Imaging Seminar

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