Riley Heruska
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We have with us Rob Tenery, MD, an ophthalmologist who began his writing career with his authored commentaries on current events that were impacting the health care profession. He became a monthly contributor to the nationally distributed periodical, American Medical News, from 1990–1998, and after that, he decided to put pen to paper for a more comprehensive look at his chosen profession and health care in America. 

He grew up in Waxahachie and married his high school sweetheart, Janet. He now practices ophthamology in Dallas and writes as a second career. 

Dr. Tenery has five published books. His most recent novel, a political thriller titled Insurrection at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, became available this past May. The story details the political unrest that could mount in America's future and describes a world fraught with distrust. Important political figures are dropping dead around the president, national security is at risk, and the impending danger will keep you turning pages late into the night. Follow an emergency room physician in Texas as he is unexpectedly dragged into the drama with the White House chief of staff to propel the novel forward as they come together for the terrorizing conclusion in the nation’s capital.

Can you tell me a little bit about this new novel and how it came about?

Dr. Tenery: Insurrection at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue came out of my interest in political intrigue and my love of writing. Starting in 2004, I began a rough draft after George Bush invaded Iraq in 2003, feeling they had weapons of mass destruction. As you are aware, none were found, but that did not mean that they had been moved into Iran before or during the invasion.

My premise was based that these WMDs in the form of chemical and biological weapons were moved to Iran and the program to develop their potency continued--- all in secrecy. Then when the time was right those who followed Hussein would rise again. Only this time their agenda of domination was global in nature--- with the United States as their first target

I call it a ‘what if’ book. What if there were WMDs, etc.

BubbleLife: How would you describe your writing style?

Dr. Tenery: It would best be described as free-flow. I start with a premise, in this case--- what if there really were WMDs and what if a rogue country wanted to take the US over from within? I do not follow an outline, but let the story lead me to an undetermined conclusion. That makes the journey more interesting.

BubbleLife: What's your favorite part about living and writing in Texas?

Dr. Tenery: Texas is home, rich in history, especially when it comes to thinking independently and not just following dictums coming out of Washington, DC.

BubbleLife: What or who would you list as your biggest writing influences?

Dr. Tenery: That one is easy. My general surgeon, grandfather, Dr. W.C. Tenery, who started the first hospital in Waxahachie, the first blood bank in Texas, and the first LVN nursing school in Texas. He also kept one of the banks in Waxahachie solvent during the Great Depression. He then gave the hospital and all its facilities back to the city along with a fair sum of money when he retired.

The second is my father, Dr. Mayo Tenery, also a general surgeon, who worked in organized medicine and was President of the Texas Medical Association. He and my mother were very involved with the youth group of the Central Presbyterian Church and he served on the Waxahachie School Board.

Last, but not the least, is my wife, Janet, of 53 years who came up with many of the ideas for my books as well as my editor. Without her encouragement and support, none of my books would have found their way into print.

With all three, their commitment to giving back inspired me to ‘give back’ through my writing. I would be remiss if I didn’t include growing up in Waxahachie and being raised in an atmosphere led by the ‘greatest generation’ that believed that their word was their bond and there was an obligation other than one’s own needs. Those values, so important in the 50s, set the course my wife and I have lived by and have hopefully instilled in our families.

BubbleLife: Do you ever base any of your fictional characters on people in the real world?

Dr. Tenery: My first and third books, Dr. Mayo’s Boy and Chasing the Ponytail are based on my family, my wife and myself--- creative nonfiction. My two books, Bedside Manners and In Search of Medicines Moral Compass are 'how to' and historical nonfiction in nature. Only Insurrection is pure fiction, but leading up to the events that transpire in the opening of the book are all historically correct.

BubbleLife: Which of your novels did you most enjoy writing?

Dr. Tenery: In totally different ways they were all very fulfilling to write, but Chasing the Ponytail and Dr. Mayo’s Boy were the most fun.

BubbleLife: Do you believe in writer's block?

Dr. Tenery: Yes and no. There are times when I’m not sure what will come next in my stories, but often it comes to me in the shower or in the middle of the night. That’s why I keep a pen and pad beside my bed.

BubbleLife: How long does it usually take for you to write one book?

Dr. Tenery: Six months, plus or minus. Then another six to nine months once the manuscript is submitted for publication.

BubbleLife: How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Dr. Tenery: Two and a half

BubbleLife: Name one underrated book you think everyone should read.

Dr. Tenery: The Cloud of Unknowing is an anonymous work of Christian mysticism written in the latter half of the 14th century. I wouldn’t say the book is underrated, but not well known.

To learn more about Dr. Tenery and his books, click here. Be sure to check out his latest thriller! 

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