We had the good fortune of connecting with Sandra Cavallo Miller and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sandra, why did you pursue a creative career?
I feel incredibly fortunate to pursue this new endeavor after retirement from medicine, too busy to write novels sooner. But because my path to medicine was so unorthodox, with undergraduate degrees in creative writing and anthropology, I wanted to try. Little fiction is written about women physicians outside of crime scene stories. There’s also minimal fiction about family medicine, and only a few novels are placed at the Grand Canyon. So my quest has been to tackle all that. I love to write: creating personalities, honing a plot, finding just the right words to describe the night sky. The daunting task of depicting the Grand Canyon and weaving a story around and through it. Making readers want to turn the next page.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
A new author faces a steep uphill road. You learn from your rejections and mistakes, and a few generous agents and editors offered me early advice and encouragement that kept me going. You must be incredibly persistent, listen carefully to critique whether you agree or not, and keep writing and improving. Be prepared to be knocked down and disregarded again and again, but learn something each time. The first novel was an experiment and showed me I could do it, and my work continues to evolve. My trilogy about a young woman physician at the Grand Canyon Clinic on the South Rim explores the rewards and struggles of practicing medicine in a unique location, and delves into the strengths and flaws we all have, trying to make our way through our lives. There’s a playful mix of adventure, geology, and romance along with accurate medical care. Having known physicians who worked there helps me give these stories some authenticity. The third book in this series (What the River Said) will be released in May. After that, my next novel takes place in downtown Phoenix during a brutally hot summer, a story about a public health physician (pre-Covid) and residency training. The publication date will be announced soon.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Since I feel strongly connected to our natural world (one of my hobbies is volcanology), that’s where I would head with my friends, after first visiting the MIM—the Musical Instrument Museum. The MIM is a world-class museum, one of a kind, where I volunteer. Around Phoenix we would visit the Desert Botanical Gardens, the Superstitions, take in all the great hiking. The Boyce Thompson Arboretum. Then on to explore the Grand Canyon and everywhere in between. Arizona brims with national parks and monuments, incomparable geological sites like Sedona and the Petrified Forest, historical sites like Jerome. Arizona’s rich Native and Hispanic backgrounds and sites strengthen our community. A week barely gives you a taste and is not nearly enough time.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
No book is written and published alone. My shoutout is to all the supportive souls at the University of Nevada Press, for picking up my vision about contemporary science-based medical adventure in the Southwest. Not to mention all the dedicated first readers and a lifetime of physician and patient encounters that formed my tenuous grasp of the human condition.
Website: www.skepticalword.com (The author can be contacted through her website)
Other: Here’s the link to my Amazon author page, which displays the 3 novels in the Grand Canyon trilogy.