Retired Borders General Hospital doctor's new Covid-related novel is a must-read across the globe
Oliver Eade worked at the region’s hospital in acute medicine between 1989 and 2003.
He still lives in Melrose and since hanging up his stethoscope has written extensively, with his literary portfolio including plays, novels and short stories.
Oliver, 76, has now been notified that his latest novel, In the Blink of an Eye, from Silver Quill Publishing, is one of the finalists in the International Page Turner 2021 Book Awards.
The book is a homage to medicine and the advances made over the last seven thousand years.
A mix of fiction and fact it features illustrations by his Texan granddaughter, Lucia.
Inspired by the pandemic, and written during lockdown, the central character is a young man attached to a ventilator in the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary because of Covid-19, who relives his love for a young musician whilst experiencing flashbacks to previous incarnations, each of which identifies a major advance in the story of medicine together with factual accounts and some of the writer’s own experiences as a hospital doctor.
Oliver is hopeful that publication of the book might help Lucia, who also wishes to become a doctor, gain entry to medical school in Texas as this has become increasingly difficult in the United States, particularly during the past 10 months.
For several years Oliver toyed with the idea of revisiting his life as a doctor by scripting an interactive drama about the history of medicine, for children, after liaising with a drama professional in London.
Coronavirus put paid to that but allowed him the freedom to develop the idea in a more creative way.
The new book, also available from Amazon, is on sale at the WRVS shop in the Borders General Hospital, with all proceeds going to the hospital.
Oliver said: “I was gobsmacked when I learned it was a finalist. I really didn’t expect it and there are some really good books from all over the world on the list.
"Lucia wants to do medicine and I know, having worked as a doctor in the US, that it is very difficult to get to medical school and I just thought that collaborating on a book on the history of medicine might just help her chances.
"The pandemic is a main theme in the book and I go through Hippocrates, William Harvey, circulation of the blood, and, quite importantly, the first vaccination in the 18th century by Edward Jenner, and there was a boy called James Phipps, who had the first documented vaccination, for smallpox, and ever since then we have had vaccines.
"It’s topical, historical and Covid-related.
"Although there’s a fictional element with the lad the main thing to get across is the history of medicine in the last seven thousand years, which to me is a remarkable story with so many brilliant people having made these major advances.”
Oliver is now working on a new novel, due for publication before the end of the year, which he describes as a “possible hot potato”
He explained: “The Fire Hills is set in Melrose and is about the Eildon Hills and it links the time when the Celts were under the Romans and had their fort at Trimontium.
"It links that with a possible future, not too far ahead, with Westminster refusing Scotland independence and then sending in the troops, who are equally brutal as the Romans, so it’s linking a past in the Borders with a possible near-future, if Scotland is denied independence.”