Kevin Patterson grew up in Manitoba and put himself through medical school by joining the Canadian army. Now a specialist in internal medicine, he practises in the Arctic and on the coast of British Columbia. His first book, a memoir called The Water in Between, was a Globe Best Book and an international bestseller. Country of Cold, his debut short fiction collection, won the Rogers Writers Trust Fiction Prize in 2003, as well as the inaugural City of Victoria Butler Book Prize. He lives on Saltspring Island.
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You're a prize-winning author and a practicing physician. Did you want to be a doctor or a writer growing up? How did you manage to do both careers?
I came to do both fairly accidentally. My twin brother was the one who was destined to be a physician. I was a disengaged metal-headed high school student in the power mechanics career stream, when I came home from school one day and realized that giggling, high, under a car every day was probably not a realizable life ambition. My brother had been taking prerequisite courses for pre-medicine, and the application forms were laying about the house. I found some and filled them in and the next thing I knew I was in medicine--and broke. Which led to the next accident: I impetuously signed up with the Canadian military to pay for my tuition and books, and on graduation, found myself working in a Manitoba artillery base, taking care of 400 twenty-two year olds who had nothing other than boxer's fractures and urethritis wrong with them. Some days, my work was done by nine in the morning. I started writing short stories, to pass the time. After a while I started selling them. Pretty quickly, those stories were most of what I thought about--besides women. I was twenty-five when I ...
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