Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Q&A with Sam Stea

Sam Stea is the author of the new novel The Edge of Elsewhere. He is a physician in Pennsylvania.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for The Edge of Elsewhere?

A: As a father and physician, the science of climate change for me is as real as the medicine I practice. Its dire implications are with me every waking hour of each day and night, in every conversation, and in every thought about my own and my family’s future.

I felt powerless in my ability to make an impact, until the very moment I was struck with the idea of a story that asks and answers a very simple question: What would our children’s children think of us, living in the here and now, and the choices we are making and the values we espouse.

The Edge of Elsewhere offers this perspective on climate change, one hardly considered, one looking backward in time where we are the fallen generation. The story and the book is my own solution, my voice and my hope that I might make a change for the better.

Q: As a physician and writer, how do the two coexist for you?

A: Writing the story has been an important outlet for me. Nephrology or kidney medicine is often fraught with despair. Hopelessness is the worst thing I encounter with patients. In some way, the story can be an allegory for someone dealing with kidney disease and dialysis, holding onto the hope of an eventual kidney transplant.

It was challenging to write this, given the need for time and focus. Believe it or not, insomnia helps. I had good people helping me all the way through.

Q: What do you hope readers take away from the book?

A: I want readers to be able to ask themselves the question: What is truly lasting and precious in the time given to us?  

Q: You write, "Health care providers need to lead us out of this climate mess." What do you see as the role of health care workers in the climate crisis?

A: Doctors are quiet on the issue of climate change and I don’t understand why. Ultimately, and in our lifetimes, the heath of the entire human population is at stake.

Maybe, in all our specializations and technological advances, physicians have lost sight of the human patient, seeing only data on computer screens, malfunctioning organs, and spots on a CT scan. Perhaps we have become too disconnected from each other to simply recognize and remember the trust granted to us by the public at large, and the influence for good we might wield.

Q: What are you working on now?

A: I am working on myself right now, my health and my relationship with family and friends. I finally have some help with my practice so I might enjoy some time and just relax. I’m looking forward to maybe talking about this book. Let’s see what happens.

--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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