Robin Cook is WriterDoc and much more
He is best known for combining medical writing with the thriller genre. Many of his books have been bestsellers on the New York Times Bestseller List. Several of his books have also been featured in Reader’s Digest. His books have sold nearly 400 million copies worldwide.
Early life and career
Cook grew up in Queens, New York City, and moved to Leonia, New Jersey, when he was eight, where he could first have the “luxury” of having his own room. He graduated from Wesleyan University and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and finished his postgraduate medical training at Harvard.
Cook divides his time between homes in Boston and Naples, Florida, where he lives with his wife, Jean, and his son. He is currently on leave from the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. His books combine medical fact with fantasy. Cook’s medical thrillers are designed, in part, to keep the public aware of both the technological possibilities of modern medicine and the ensuing socio-ethical problems which come along with it.:73
He has a wonderful collection of fine arts, mainly pictures of the 19th century.
Cook is a private member of the Woodrow Wilson Center‘s Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees, led by chairman Joseph B. Gildenhorn, are appointed to six-year terms by the President of the United States.
Cook’s novels have anticipated national controversy. In an interview with Stephen McDonald about the novel Shock, Cook admits the book’s timing was fortuitous: “I suppose that you could say that it’s the most like Coma in fact that it deals with an issue that everybody seems to be concerned about,” he says, “I wrote this book to address the stem cell issue, which the public really doesn’t know anything about. Besides entertaining readers, my main goal is to get people interested in some of these issues, because it’s the public that ultimately should be able to decide which way we ought to go in something as ethically questioning as stem cell research.”
To date, Cook has explored issues such as organ donation, fertility treatment, genetic engineering, in vitro fertilization, research funding, managed care, medical malpractice, medical tourism, drug research, and organ transplantation.
I joke that if my books stop selling, I can always fall back on brain surgery,” he says. “But I am still very interested in it. If I had to do it over again, I would still study medicine. I think of myself more as a doctor who writes, rather than a writer who happens to be a doctor.” He explained the popularity of his works thus: “The main reason is, we all realize we are at risk. We’re all going to be patients sometime,” he says. “You can write about great white sharks or haunted houses, and you can say I’m not going into the ocean or I’m not going in haunted houses, but you can’t say you’re not going to go into a hospital.
Cook says he chose to write thrillers because the forum gives him “an opportunity to get the public interested in things about medicine that they didn’t seem to know about. I believe my books are actually teaching people.”
The author admits he never thought that he would have such compelling material to work with when he began writing fiction in 1970. “If I tried to be the writer I am today a number of years ago, I wouldn’t have very much to write about. But today, with the pace of change in biomedical research, there are any number of different issues, and new ones to come,” he says.
Many of his novels revolve around hospitals (both fictional and non-fictional) in Boston, which may have to do with the fact that he underwent his post-graduate training at Harvard and has a residence in Boston.
In the business arena Dr. Cook is a cofounder of an Internet software company, a partner of a New Hampshire sports complex, an investor in a New Hampshire ski area, and he has significant real estate holdings. His relatively unique investment strategies were recognized in a lengthy article on the front page of the business section of the New York Times in the ’80s. In the past he has partnered in a restaurant and a construction company. Currently he is partnering in the start up of another restaurant.
Dr. Cook’s hobbies mainly have involved interior and architectural design, period renovation, and athletics. Although daily basketball and tennis had been his main athletic endeavors, today it is biking. He divides his time mostly between Naples, Florida, and Waterville Valley, New Hampshire.