Meet Darryl Bollinger, an award-winning author of seven medical thrillers. The richness of detail in his books can only come from someone who spent twenty-eight years working in the health care industry. It’s a field that touches all of us from time to time — and this author has collected a lot of juicy stories to tell.
The Healing Tree was inspired while Darryl and a friend were walking in the woods near his North Carolina home. He says:
I was halfway through the first draft of what, at the time, was going to be book number seven. On a hike in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a friend mentioned that he had a great idea for a book. “What if someone hiking in the park discovered a tree that was thought to be extinct?” he asked. As ideas tend to do, this one reached out and grabbed me. By the time we finished the hike, I’d sketched out a story. I shelved my then-current work-in-progress and immediately started writing The Healing Tree.
Plants as Medicine
Most good novels contain some fascinating research and this one is no exception:
Since the Cherokee Indians are so much a part of this area, I wanted to incorporate them accurately and respectfully. I probably read four or five books on the Cherokee and their history and visited the Museum of the Cherokee Indian in Cherokee, NC. (Highly recommend!)
The Healing Tree is based on the premise that the Cherokee know about the healing tree and its properties, so Darryl also delved into how plants are used for medicinal purposes. His local bookstore, Blue Ridge Books, recommended a great book on the subject: Plants of the Cherokee by William H. Banks.
How Far Would You Go?
We asked Darryl what he would like readers to take away from The Healing Tree.
First, the question of “how far would you go to save the life of a loved one?” Justin Reeve, my protagonist, faces this question a number of times. His sister is dying and conventional treatment is not working. He desperately wants to save her, but at what risks? What compromises will he be willing to make?
The second takeaway is the realization that our health care system is driven by money and greed. As a country, we spend twice as much per capita as the next closest country, yet our outcomes are in the middle of the pack at best.
A Long Time Coming
Like many of us, Bollinger had an interest in writing from an early age.
I’ve always loved reading fiction. As a child, it was an escape. I tell people that it took me over twenty years to finish my first book which, by the way, is still unpublished. I didn’t have the confidence to try to make a living writing, and went into a business career instead. So, I was a “closet” writer for those twenty years.
When I finally retired, my wife challenged me to give writing my undivided attention. That was when I finally finished my first novel. I realized it wasn’t ready for prime time, so I put it in the file cabinet and started on The Medicine Game, which became my first published novel.
When asked about his writing inspirations, Darryl took the difficult step of limiting it to three.
Ernest Hemingway. I love his brevity and concise prose. Every word in his writing counts.
John Updike, probably one of America’s greatest writers—a writers’ writer. One of only four to have won two Pulitzer Prizes for fiction, he also wrote non-fiction, short stories, poetry, stories… everything.
Michael Crichton. Brilliant. An M.D., author, and filmmaker. He always started with a kernel of truth and then wrapped an incredible story around that core. Like Jurassic Park. The kernel of truth was dinosaur DNA found preserved in amber. I give Crichton credit for my belief that my books are fiction rooted in reality.
Finally, loyal readers will be happy to know that Darryl has picked up the manuscript he put on hold when he began to work on The Healing Tree.
It’s called The Treatment Plan. My last two books are set in North Carolina, but I’m going back to Florida for this one. When a stranger asks for help in finding his daughter who has been kicked out of a drug treatment center for non-payment, a reluctant ex-federal agent must battle a corrupt health care company to save her and prevent more victims
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