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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Finalist Award Unpublished Novel Contest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19th Century grave robber for the Medical College of Virginia, was a finalist in this year’s James River Writers best unpublished novel competition.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.



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