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DOCTORS AND FRIENDS

Hannah, Compton, and Kira have been close friends since medical school, reuniting once a year for a much-needed vacation. Just as they gather to travel in Spain, an outbreak of a fast-spreading virus throws the world into chaos.
 

When Compton Winfield returns to her job as an ER doctor in New York City, she finds a city changed beyond recognition—and a personal loss so gutting it reshapes every aspect of her life.
 
Hannah Geier’s career as an ob-gyn in San Diego is fulfilling but she’s always longed for a child of her own. After years of trying, Hannah discovers she’s expecting a baby just as the disease engulfs her city.
 
Kira Marchand, an infectious disease doctor at the CDC in Atlanta, finds herself at the center of the American response to the terrifying new illness. Her professional battle turns personal when she must decide which of her children will receive an experimental but potentially life-saving treatment.

 
Written prior to Covid-19 by a former emergency medicine physician, Doctors and Friends incorporates unexpected wit, razor-edged poignancy, and a deeply relatable cast of characters who provoke both laughter and tears. Martin provides a unique insider’s perspective into the world of medical professionals working to save lives during the most difficult situations of their careers.

PRAISE FOR DOCTORS AND FRIENDS

Martin’s riveting latest focuses on a group of doctors during a pandemic. An ER doctor, Martin fills the hospital scenes with vivid descriptions and moving moments. This fully realized account of a fictional pandemic manages to convey the deeply personal as well as the bigger picture—Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

With echoes of Richard Preston's The Hot Zone, John M. Barry's The Great Influenza, and Anna Hope's Expectation, Doctors and Friends is precise in details but sweeping in scope and impact. Martin’s novel is compelling to its core.
Booklist (Starred Review)

There is beauty in Martin’s gem of a story that confirms that friendship is a powerful force. —Library Journal (Starred Review)

 

The lives of three doctors—friends since medical school who meet for an annual get together—are thrown upside down when a contagious virus begins to spread across the world in this eerily prescient and timely novel written before the COVID-19 pandemic. Martin's complex characters are infused with such raw emotion that they nearly jump off the page.

—NEWSWEEK

"A prescient, human and hopeful portrait of medical experts on a pandemic’s frontlines." —People Magazine

Written prior to COVID-19 by the former emergency medicine physician, this sweeping yet intimate novel explores the power of the friendship between three women—who met in medical school and meet up for an annual get together—in the face of a contagious virus. —E! Online

"Once again, Kimmery Martin shines while deftly blending her laudable skills as a physician and storyteller. Written prior to COVID, Doctors and Friends is an eerily foretelling and poignantly relatable tale of a devastating pandemic that upends the world. Through the eyes of three female doctors and longtime friends, the reader is reminded of the heart-wrenching tragedies, medical feats, and impossible choices that make such a cast not only heroic but, above all, human.” — Kristina McMorris, NYT bestselling author of Sold on a Monday

 

"Doctors and Friends is an astounding achievement. It's both an eerily timely portrait of a world in the grips of a deadly pandemic and a poignant dive into the interior lives of the medical workers at its forefront. I was profoundly affected by these characters. I became emotionally attached to them and deeply invested in the outcome of their stories. I know they will stay with me for a long time." — Cristina Alger, NYT bestselling author of The Darlings

 

"The beating heart of this fast-paced and intensely moving novel is the warm, life-sustaining friendship between a group of doctors on the frontlines of a global pandemic. Martin shines a sharp, compassionate light on the lives of the women behind the masks and scrubs during a crisis that is both achingly familiar and punctuated by twists and turns you won’t see coming. I couldn’t put it down!" — Meg Donohue, bestselling author of You, Me, and the Sea

 

"An incredibly prescient book that is both thrilling and inspiring. Martin draws upon her deep knowledge to create a story and characters that are stunningly real. At turns hilarious, heartbreaking, and intense; I flew through this book." — Kathy Wang, bestselling author of Family Trust and Imposter Syndrome

A cast of characters rendered so poignantly in Martin’s empathetic hands that their joys and sorrows become our own. 

The Charlotte Observer

A well-written apocalyptic tale about a global pandemic that is all too realistic. Kirkus

 

"Kimmery Martin’s Doctors and Friends is nothing shy of stunning. While delivering the depth, wit, and soul that continues to garner both readers' love and critics' acclaim, she deftly reminds us that no crisis will ever shrink our capacity for love -- and when threatened -- our will to fight back. Absolutely brilliant." — P.J.Vernon, bestselling author of Bath Haus 

 

"As an infectious disease physician living through a pandemic as a mother, a citizen, and as an affected patient, I saw myself through the pages of this book. I sobbed, I laughed, and I found myself moved by the characters, and their experiences— I lived their anguish, their loss and their joy through the pages." — Freshta Jaghori, M.D.

 

“Dr. Kimmery Martin has crafted an energetic, powerfully-written novel about a group of vital and brave friends/doctors.” — Samuel Shem, M.D., bestselling author of House of God and Man’s 4th Best Hospital

"Doctors and Friends is a stunning medical drama that will resonate with readers everywhere. I was riveted. Kimmery Martin's sharp, smart writing is infused with compassion, emotion and a belief in the healing power of friendship, love and hope.” — Jayne Ann Krentz, internationally bestselling author

 

Doctors and Friends is a stellar work of prescient fiction that grab readers' attention and will not let go until the final harrowing scene. Author and doctor Kimmery Martin knows her fellow doctors, her medicine, and how to craft a cast of characters with phenomenal empathy, compassion, and integrity. Having lived and experienced the world through the lens of the Covid shutdown, I can highly recommend Doctors and Friends as the message of hope that the world needs, as well as a powerful novel. Book club members will read it in or two sittings and be begging for the discussion.” — Pamela Klinger-Horn, bookseller

 

Gripping and compelling, Doctors and Friends is an eerily prescient “what if” pandemic scenario. Martin has created a powerful narrative of friendship and loss, played out in concurrent storylines: the one we all just lived through, and the one created for us on the page. Horrifying and heartbreaking, the redemptive power of love, friendship and loyalty shine through.  We should all be so lucky as to have the supporting cast Martin has created for her characters. Perhaps we would all feel more prepared to face our own post-pandemic world." — Julie Clark, NYT bestselling author of The Last Flight

 

"Yes, Doctors and Friends is timely, but it’s so much more than that. It’s an introspective, heartfelt story of deep friendships, impossible choices, intense twists and a great deal of what we all crave right now: hope. Put this on your TBR immediately!" — Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke, authors of How To Save a Life

Would it be strange to say I found a pandemic novel comforting? Chapter after chapter, I looked forward to basking in the friendship, humor, and genuinely good intentions of these women doing all they could to save their loved ones, one another, and the world from a mysterious and fast-moving disease. Kimmery Martin's fictional world was just the respite I needed from our real one.

Mary Laura Philpott, author of I Miss You When I Blink

This is the pandemic novel I didn't know I was longing for! I loved it. 
 Anne Bogel, creator of Modern Mrs Darcy/host of the What Should I Read Next podcast

BOOK CLUB KIT

  • CLICK HERE for a kit for your book club: two fun quizzes, the backstory behind certain character names, a short overview of the worst plagues in history, a Reader's Guide listing of discussion questions, a facial hair infographic from the CDC (yes, it's relevant!) and a letter from Kimmery.

RADIO, TELEVISION, & PODCASTS: 

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PRINT INTERVIEWS: 

LITERARY LISTS: 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: 

This section is for listeners of the audio book, who did not have access to this material :) 

 

I owe an enormous debt to the physicians and scientists who advised me during the writing of this novel. Needless to say, they have more important things to do than attempting to resuscitate imaginary people. I’m humbled by both their intelligence and their generosity in granting me access to their fields.

 

Please know that any implausibilities or biases are solely attributable to me and do not reflect on the perspective of these experts. Some of them answered questions or allowed me to interview them; some read background scenes or passages specific to their circumstances; a few read the entire manuscript. Any errors stem from my failure to heed their advice.

 

One conflict I had to resolve: Scientists wish to qualify their statements for maximum accuracy, whereas novelists wish to avoid the boredom-induced death of their readers. This means I had to abandon many passages reflective of the complicated realities of epidemiology or virology or biotechnology in favor of more simple but less precise language. Also in certain scenes I deliberately took a bit of creative license, partly to improve the drama and partly due to my editor’s gentle observation that perhaps the story didn’t really flow when the characters insisted on hammering home the distinction between esoteric concepts such as, say, basic and effective reproductive numbers. Consider the following example of excised dialogue:

 

“Why not share the basic reproductive number?”

 

“Because the effective reproduction number is more useful,” said Kira. “It’s the product of the R0 and the susceptible host population (x). Therefore R = R0x estimates the potential for spread while taking into account the implementation of control measures, such as isolation and quarantining.”

 

Even in non-medical writing I tend to overuse big words, which many tormented readers of my previous novels have pointed out. Thanks, guys. Believe it or not, it could have been even worse. Every character in the book might sound like a meganerd (i.e. me) if it wasn’t for my long-suffering editor. I do not know how she makes it through my intolerable word snarls. Thank you, Kerry!

 

Spoiler alert: On a related note, I’d like to address the miraculous recoveries of some of the characters. My editor talked me out of an original, grimmer ending even though it was medically more plausible, and she was right. That’s the beauty of fiction: sometimes it delivers unexpected grace and a joyous ending when we need it most.

 

Speaking of unexpected grace, I owe my deepest gratitude to the following groups and individuals:

 

My people! The emergency medicine doctors:

 

Heather M. Clark, MD; Danielle Dire, MD; Kari Dechenne, MD; Sarah Edwards, MD; Susan Geiger, MD; Gerri Goertzen, MD; Emily Hyatt, DO; Angela K. Johnson, MD; Sara Kirby, MD; Dorothy Konomos, DO; Tony Locrotondo, DO; Olen Netteburg, MD; Erin Noste, MD; Olga Otter, MD; Anuj A. Parikh, MD; Matthew S. Partrick, MD; Kimberly Pringle, MD; Audrey Stanton, DO, MPH; Cristi Vaughn, MD; Michelle Walther MD; Svetlana Zakharchenko, DO, and all the others who aided me.

 

In what other field can one so perfectly combine a love of science with an immediate ability to ease suffering? To all the BAFERDs out there, I admire your brilliance and compassion and unceasing devotion to a career where someone’s always trying to die on your watch. It takes a toll, working a job where skill is paramount, sleep is scarce, circumstances are unpredictable, and any moment can be life-altering—or life-ending—for everyone involved. But you carry on, usually without thanks. We all owe you.

 

All hail the infectious disease doctors, immunologists, biologists, and EIS-trained docs:

 

If the world didn’t properly appreciate you before, we do now. Thank you for turning your formidable intelligence and ineffable spirit toward conquering our microscopic foes.

 

Gretchen Arnoczy, MD; Marylou Cullinan, MD; Catherine J. F. Derber, MD; Jennifer Espiritu, MD; Jessie Glasser, MD; Freshta Jaghori, MD; Sheena Kandiah, MD, MPH; Sara Oliver, MD, MSPH; Catherine Passaretti, MD; Kimberly Pringle, MD; Rebekah Sensenig, DO; Elizabeth P. Schlaudecker, MD, MPH; Kara M. Jacobs Slifka, MD, MPH; Julia Sung, MD; Cynthia Turcotte, PhD; Philip Vernon, PhD; and everyone else in the fields of virology, infectious disease, and epidemiology who was kind enough to help me.

 

The neurologists:

 

Sandra A. Block, MD; Mausumi Lidogoster, MD; Sheela S. Myers, MD, MS; Waimei Tai, MD. Literal brainiacs! You guys impress me to no end.

 

The obstetrician-gynecologists:

 

Hina Cheema, MD; Natalie Crawford, MD; Jennie Hauschka, MD; Kelli Miller, MD; Danae Netteburg, MD; Lora Shahine, MD. You are lovely. Thank you for answering my questions and/or your support of my new career.

 

The radiologists:

 

Heather Frimmer, MD, and Karen Rampton, MD; so grateful for your sharp eyes.

 

And the pediatrician: Kristen Borchetta, DO. Thank you!

 

To my groups:

 

I’m so grateful for the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, the Charlotte Writers Club, the Charlotte Readers Podcast, Authors 18, and the WFWA. Special shout out to the admins and members of the Physician Mom Book Club, especially Nicole Brammer Hubbard for her support (and all the intriguing pathology posts); and to the admins and members of the most excellent Women Physician Writer group. Huge heartfelt thank you to the amazing sisterhood of the Charlotte Area PMG & Female Physicians. Also to all the other PMG subgroups I’m in: y’all are so much fun and so informative and just so cool.

 

To my fellow physician fiction authors Dr. Sandra Block, Dr. Saumya Dave, Dr. Jennifer Driscoll, Dr. Heather Frimmer, Dr. Bradeigh Godfrey, Dr. Nadia Hashimi, Dr. Lydia Kang, Dr. Judy Melinek, Dr. Sheryl Recinos, Dr. Kristine Scruggs, Dr. Meghan Maclean Weir, Dr. Ismée Williams (and so many more!): I am honored to be among your ranks. It requires truly singular brain chemistry to churn out imaginary drama in the midst of all the real-life mayhem.

 

Special thanks to Dr. Bradeigh Godfrey, for her treasured friendship, her support, and her always insightful developmental edits. And also her mad bookstagram skills.

 

To Drs. Danae and Olen Netteburg, you are an inspiration. I could not admire you more.

 

To the fiercely brilliant Dr. Kizzy Corbett, thank you for letting me borrow your last name for President Corbett. I’m in awe all you have done for our country, for the advancement of science, and especially for women in STEM.

 

To my friend and fellow author Youssef Chebaa Hadri, thank you for such a gracious welcome to the dazzling city of Tangier. I look forward to a return visit and a long literary discussion.

 

To Abdennour Mezzine, fellow doctor and author, it has been such an honor to correspond with you. Thank you for your service on the frontlines in Morocco and for your kindness to a fellow writer.

 

To my beta readers: Heather Burkhart, Bess Kercher, Lisa Kline, Lara Lillibridge, and Betsy Thorpe, my apologies for the wretched early drafts. Your suffering makes me a better writer.

 

To the Ink Tank: I love each and every one of you.

 

To my San Diego author friends: Liz Fenton, Michelle Gable, Kristina McMorris, Sue Meissner, Lisa Steinke, and Kate Quinn, I am so lucky y’all treat me as an honorary Californian. And I’m so fortunate to bask in the glow of all your massive success. #writergoals.

 

To my writer buds: Anne Bogel, Julie Clark, Molly Grantham, Jennifer Klepper, and Colleen Oakley: You are the people I turn to when I need a laugh, a boost, or an idea. Thank you.

 

To P.J. Vernon: One night I read all the texts we’ve ever sent each other about our books and I laughed so hard I hurt myself. You are witty and lovable and brilliant and an absolutely terrifying thriller writer. Now that I think about it, that’s such a weird combo. Makes me love you even more. #BathHaus

 

To Hitha Palepu and Ashley Spivey: I adore our little triumvirate. Thank you so much for the literary support and the friendship.

 

To the Berkley team—Fareeda Bullert; Craig Burke; Lauren Burnstein; Kerry Donovan; the Marys, both Baker and Geren; Colleen Reinhart, Natalie Sellars; Lindsey Tulloch; Christine Legon; and Claire Zion—so many beautiful books exist because of you. I am beyond honored that mine are among them. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

 

To Kathleen Carter, publicist extraordinaire: you are outstanding at what you do. Thank you.

 

To the world’s best agent, Jane Dystel: I’m so fortunate you champion my work. You are a dear friend.

 

To Pamela Klinger-Horn: thank you for your early support for Doctors and Friends. You make people want books, which is the coolest thing ever.

 

To all the bookstores, libraries, and bookstagrammers: The world would be a bleak place without your literary evangelism. I wish I could list you all!

 

To Writing Group, INK (aka Tracy Curtis, Bess Kercher, and Trish Rohr): I’m not sure what we did to bring down the wrath of the universe upon us last year but I am certain we could not have made it through without each other. You are such a blessing and so talented.

 

To my med school babes: Jill Howell Berg, Whitney Arnette Jamie, Kelli Miller, Kristin Rager, Christina Terrell, and Casey Dutton-Triplett: If your patients ask, none of the individual characters in Doctors & Friends are us, but our decades of devoted friendship definitely provided the inspiration for this novel. I’ll never stop being grateful that we found each other that first week of medical school.

 

To my beloveds: my sister Shannan Rome; my best friend, Heather Burkhart; and my extraordinary mother, Judy Martin, I don’t think I could bear life without you, let alone get these dang books written. There is no one on earth I look up to more than the three of you.

 

To Jim, Katie, Alex, and Annie: Never has a wife or mother been blessed with a more glorious family. You are all funny, feisty, and dear beyond words. I love you.

 

And, finally, to Covid: Fuck you.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Appel, Jacob M., M.D. Who Says You’re Dead? Medical and Ethical Dilemmas for the Curious and Concerned. New York, NY: Algonquin Books, 2019.

Barry, John M. The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History. New York, NY: Viking Press, 2004.

Foege, William H., M.D., M.P.H. The Fears of the Rich, the Needs of the Poor: My Years at the CDC. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2018.

Kang, Lydia, M.D., and Nate Pedersen. Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything. New York, NY: Workman Publishing, 2017.

Kolata, Gina. Flu: The Story of the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 and the Search for the Virus That Caused It. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1999.

Levitt, Alexandra M., Ph.D. Deadly Outbreaks: How Medical Detectives Save Lives Threatened by Killer Pandemics, Exotic Viruses, and Drug-Resistant Parasites. New York, NY: Skyhorse Publishing, 2013.

McCormick, Joseph B., M.D., and Susan Fisher‐Hoch, M.D. Level 4: Virus Hunters of the CDC. New York, NY: Barnes & Noble, Inc., 1996.

 

McKenna, Maryn. Beating Back the Devil: On the Front Lines with the Disease Detectives of the Epidemic Intelligence Service. New York, NY: Free Press, 2004.

 

Moalem, Sharon, Ph.D., with Jonathan Prince. Survival of the Sickest: A Medical Maverick Discovers Why We Need Disease. New York, NY: William Morrow, 2007.

Oldstone, Michael B. A. Viruses, Plagues and History: Past, Present, and Future. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2010.

Osterholm, Michael T., Ph.D., M.P.H., and Mark Olshaker. Deadliest Enemy: Our War Against Killer Germs. New York, NY: Little, Brown & Company, 2017.

Pendergrast, Mark. Inside the Outbreaks: The Elite Medical Detectives of the Epidemic Intelligence Service. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010.

Preston, Richard. Crisis in the Red Zone: The Story of the Deadliest Ebola Outbreak in History, and of the Outbreaks to Come. New York, NY: Random House Publishing Group, 2019.

Rasmussen, M.D., M.S., Sonja A. and Richard A. Goodman, M.D., J.D., M.P.H. (Eds.) The CDC Field Epidemiology Manual. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2004.

Wright, Jennifer. Get Well Soon: History’s Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them. New York, NY: Henry Holt and Company, 2017.