Alberta doctor's romance novel is a finalist in Harlequin contest

First aired on Eyeopener (11/20/12)

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Doctors are busy people. With patients to evaluate and procedures to perform, it must be hard to make time for fun or romance. But one doctor used what spare time she had to actually write the romance novel she had always wanted to read. Amber Whitford, an OB/GYN in Red Deer, Alta., grew up reading romance novels. Now she's a finalist in Harlequin's So You Think You Can Write manuscript contest.

doctor-heart-220.jpgWhitford, who would read romance novels during exam study breaks and then shift breaks, was encouraged by her friend Jenny to try her hand at writing.

"[She] said you should really write a romance novel, we've read enough of them, you could probably write the perfect book ... So I was like, OK," Whitford told CBC's Eyeopener.

Naturally, she's set her own story in the familiar world of medicine. But she often felt frustrated with other romance novels about doctors because the female characters were always nurses, never doctors themselves.

"So I always said that if I ever wrote a book that my character was going to be a physician and have attributes of me and some of my friends who I've trained with, and who are amazing female doctors and surgeons. This is a great group of women. This should be my heroine."
In Whitford's novel, her doctor heroine finds herself caught in a malpractice lawsuit. The person hired to defend her is actually an old flame. Despite the difficult circumstances, the couple rekindles their relationship.

She says her first attempt at creative writing isn't particularly racy ("I don't believe it's at 50 Shades of Grey level) but it was adult enough to make her blush when discussing the plot with her mother after she finished reading it. Her family has been very supportive, Whitford said.

"My grandmother has been voting daily and she tells me it's more fun than voting for Dancing with the Stars."

The public voting ends November 27 with the winner being crowned on November 29 and given a publishing contract.

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