David M. Shobin, ’69
Babies, Blind Ambition and Best Sellers
Dr. David M. Shobin struggled for years to become a published authorand then it happened! In 1974, while he was an obstetrics resident at New York Metropolitan Hospital, a story he had written appeared in the Village Voice under the headline, Doing My Thing for Motherhood. It was a humorous piece detailing Dr. Shobins experiences as a sperm donor. But Dr. Shobin, a 1969 graduate of the medical school, was surprised when the story appeared. Although he submitted it to the paper, the editors never told him whether or not it would be published. It simply appeared in the paper one day. His friends were pretty much amused by it, says Dr. Shobin, who received about $100 for the piece.
The article was a modest start to a writing career that has since blossomed. In 1981, Simon & Schuster published Dr. Shobins first novel, The Unborn, a medical thriller that became a New York Times best seller, and sold about 300,000 copies in hard cover and paperback. Since then, he has written five other medical suspense novels, the latest called The Provider.
I write to get published, says Dr. Shobin, 55, who is married and has three children. It is an indescribable thrill to get published and see your name in print. It is tremendous validation of who you are. It gives a lot of meaning for who I am. Dr. Shobin has dual careers. He writes five days a week for about three or four hours a day, and he practices medicine 25 to 30 hours a week on Long Island. Yet, in 1994, he ended his obstetrics practice. I stopped that after 5,000 deliveries; that was enough, he says.
In the morning, he grabs a pen and a yellow legal pad and writes in long hand on his bed or living room couch. When he finishes, he heads to the office. Dr. Shobin has no illusions of becoming the next Ernest Hemingway. I write commercial fiction, he says. I dont write literature.
His books read quickly, and the plots boil with heart-pounding scenes. In The Provider, sick babies, all insured by the same managed care company, mysteriously die in the hospital. The premature newborns are poisoned by mites that are intentionally placed into ventilators. The executives of the managed care company, including a ruthless consultant who collects human skeletons as a hobby, agree that the newborns pose a threat to the corporations bottom line and are better off dead.
Dr. Shobin never thought he would become such a successful writer. I guess I kind of hoped that I would get published at some point and make money from it, he says. Never to the point of having a national and international bestseller. As a boy, he liked reading mysteries and spy novels. When he was 16, he told his brother, Steve, that he was going to write a thriller. Dr. Shobin wrote his first book while in medical school. It was a dreadful murder mystery, rejected by publishers. He wrote short stories, too, but none was accepted until the sperm donor story. He kept writing until The Unborn was published.
Dr. Shobins seventh book, The Cure, is being released this month. Its a medical thriller about the dark side of alternative and herbal medicines. What I am really trying to focus on . . . is that doctors are very much real people and not stick figures, Dr. Shobin says. They are not props, they are not cliches, they are people that have intense, profound feelings.
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