Former ER nurse Candace Calvert now uses her expertise to write bestselling medical fiction, but it took a personal health crisis to launch her writing career. A devastating equestrian accident provided the impetus for her first story, “By Accident,” which appeared in Chicken Soup for the Nurse’s Soul.

During months of rehabilitation after the accident, as Candace healed in body and spirit, she came to understand the difference between being a strong woman and a woman of strength—and of faith. It’s from the depths of that faith that she draws her stories of hope.

She is a Northern California native and a wife, mom, and grandmother.

What sparked your writing journey?

In truth, my husband. I’d always had a passion for writing and intended to write a novel “some day.”  Life kept getting in the way. Then, without telling me, my husband enrolled me in an online writing course. He basically said, “Stop talking about it and just do it.” Pushy, wonderful man!

Detours in life can be frustrating—kind of like plot twists in the stories we write—but the outcome is often more intriguing than our original plan. Can you tell us about a “detour” in your life that taught you something?

The biggest “detour” in my life happened after a painful succession of losses: an unexpected divorce, a flood that swept our property and, to top it off, an equestrian accident that left me with serious injuries including a broken neck and spinal cord damage. I was suddenly a single parent, displaced homeowner, and in jeopardy of permanent disability. I sometimes say that God took drastic measures to get my attention! In truth, I believe He let me feel weak—and lost—long enough to find the source of my true strength: faith. The inspirational account of that “life detour” was selected to appear in Chicken Soup for the Nurse’s Soul, and became my first published work. God has amazing plans!

Let’s talk about your new book, Life Support (Tyndale House, February 2014). Please tell us about it.

I wrote the back cover blurb for Life Support, and I think it gives a good picture of what readers can expect:

Nurse Lauren Barclay puts life on hold to keep a watchful eye on her troubled sister. It’s why she’s back in Houston. But that means confronting the brooding Physician Assistant who caused painful turmoil in her family–and left Lauren with memories her heart can’t forget.

PA and single parent Elijah Landry is no stranger to stormy relationships, including his father, who is threatening him with a restraining order. It won’t stop Eli from protecting his disabled brother—or making peace with Lauren. He wants that and so much more.

But as Lauren and Eli draw closer, a powerful hurricane roars toward Houston. Survival instincts take priority and everything changes. Can hope weather the storm?

God often uses our stories to teach us something. What did you learn (about life, faith, and/or even yourself) in the process of writing this book?

The subject of mental health—particularly bipolar disorder—is one close to my heart because of struggles within my extended family. I hesitated to tackle it in a story because I knew it would be difficult, but a reader prompted me to address the subject and encouraged me along the way. In the end, I feel very good about it. Especially when I hear from people dealing with similar problems; they tell me they feel blessed by the hope they find in this story. I love that, and I’m sure it was God’s plan all along.

What’s next for you?

I’m delighted to be working on a new three-book medical fiction series for Tyndale House. It offers a “starring” role to one of the secondary characters from Life Support, taking him from Houston to my native northern California. The Crisis Team series follows the work of community chaplains, compassionate and heroic volunteers who step in to offer help in the aftermath of chaos and tragedy.

A few fun questions…

When the words aren’t flowing—or when you want to celebrate if they are—what is your favorite comfort food and why?

So many, and—as those who follow me on Facebook and Twitter know—I’m a “foodie,” passionate about cooking! But for a quick comfort food choice, I’d have to admit to being a fool for peanut butter. On a cracker, with orange marmalade and slathered on sourdough . . . or right off the spoon! I think it appeals to the kid in me—and can be defended as protein.

This website features musicians as well as writers. Do you have musical, as well as literary, talent?

Does it count that I am my husband’s biggest karaoke fan? I’m afraid I can’t carry a tune in a bucket.

If you were a song, what kind of song would you be?

I’d probably be one specific song, an old Australian tune: Waltzing Matilda. I used to sing it to my mare as we rode along together, and it brings back such wonderful memories of that special bond.

In the story that is your life, are you the strong, female lead; the girl next door; the mysterious woman behind dark glasses; the super heroine; or the little girl trying to walk in high heels?

I’m the strong, female lead—with a warm sense of humor, a childish delight in small joys . . . and just sharp enough to stay away from those killer high heels.

I’m a dog lover. Please tell us about your pets, if any, or your favorite pet as a child.

My favorite pet was a big, bay racing Quarter Horse named “Winter Winds.” She was a retired champion show horse, with a lingering limp and big heart. I was a 48 year old rookie finally realizing her girlish dream of being “National Velvet.” There were blue ribbons, sore muscles (both of us), frustrations and triumphs, silly laughs, and lovely hours spent in quiet harmony. She was, to date, the only fan of my singing voice; the solace in a too-rugged day; my secret keeper, my teacher, and my best friend. Against impossible odds, Winter Winds gifted me with a beautiful foal. Then, three years later, she died in my arms. Her bridle still hangs in my house and she will forever gallop in my heart.

Thank you, Candace! It’s a pleasure to have you as a guest at DivineDetour.

Thank you so much for having me. It’s been a pleasure to connect with your readers.

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For more information about Candace, visit her website, friend her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

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