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Tony Gentry

Finalist Award Unpublished Novel Contest

Updated: May 17

Just learned that my new manuscript The Night Doctor of Richmond, a biographical novel about Chris Baker, Richmond’s notorious 19th Century grave robber for the Medical College of Virginia, was a finalist in this year’s James River Writers best unpublished novel competition. Here’s the article in Richmond Magazine.


The competition’s readers had nice things to say about my story:


WOW. This entry was phenomenal! I don’t have much of a critique to offer, because the submission is so strong as is. The characters are individualized and developed. The imagery is stellar (though I made the mistake of reading part of it over my lunch…). The setting is clear and realistic. I will think about this story long after the end of the contest, and hope to see it in print one day.


I was pulled in right at the start. Living in Church Hill and working at VCU Medical Center, I have heard some of these stories but have not been fully aware of this history (though I have walked through the tunnels.). What I liked about this is, while naming areas of Richmond, it was not gratuitous as some stories can be while trying to tell a story taking place in a specific location. I also love when the Fessor Doctor is orienting a new group of med students and describes the human heart. I found myself smiling because I know that so many doctors that I know and with whom I work feel this way about their work, which is why they are excellent in their field. I also learned, after so many years of treating and teaching about Brown-Sequard syndrome, that he was at VCU Medical Center for a brief time!! I will be sharing that tidbit in my future trauma classes! I also love when Chris hands out the tools to the new class that he speaks with authority – I feel like clapping!

While I, of course, realize it’s fictionalized, the amount of both research and imagination that went into creating this manuscript is impressive, to say the least. I don’t know much about the real Chris Baker, and had never even heard of him prior to reading this work, which inspired me to do a little of my own research, and has left me thinking about Baker on a regular basis. The fusion of fiction and fact is fascinating.

Having failed to find an agent, I'm indy (self) publishing this one, due out end of May 2024.


(Banner photograph courtesy SPECIAL COLLECTIONS AND ARCHIVES, TOMPKINS-MCCAW LIBRARY, VIRGINIA COMMONWEALTH UNIVERSITY)

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