A University of Florida alum and professor found herself adventuring into uncharted territory as an author after she wanted her students to have an adequate introductory book for anesthesia.
That led her down a new path and, as the saying goes, the rest is history.
Growing up in Lakeland in Central Florida, Dr. Tammy Euliano remembers music being the primary activity for her siblings. She was in the band along with her sister, Kelly Sandt, and her brother, David Yachavach, who loved to sing.
Her family enjoyed playing games, doing outdoor activities and, most of all, supporting the UF Gators.
Euliano continued her family’s legacy by attending UF, where she earned her bachelor’s degree, medical degree (1991), completed her residency in internal medicine (1992), residency in anesthesiology (1995) and her fellowship in obstetric anesthesiology (1996).
“I am a 100% Gator,” she said. “We love the Gators. We have rooms in our house that are orange and blue. We are huge football fans, so it has been enjoyable watching the Gators throughout the years.”
After finishing her fellowship, Euliano immediately joined the UF College of Medicine faculty in 1996. She specializes in obstetric anesthesia and is particularly interested in educating medical students and residents.
It wasn’t until she was a junior faculty member that she realized there wasn’t a good introductory book for medical students on anesthesia. This realization sparked an idea between herself and her mentor, Dr. Joachim S. Gravenstein, to write their own introductory book.
“It wasn’t actually on my radar,” she said. “I went to my mentor J.S. and said, ‘you know, we really need this book,’ and he said to me, “well, okay. Let’s write one.’”
The two began writing the introductory textbook of anesthesia for medical students, “Essential Anesthesia: from Science to Practice” in 2004, marking her first book.
It features a thorough overview of the science and practice of anesthesia.
“It was such an experience,” she said. “Once we finished it, J.S. said, ‘let’s write something else; how about a mystery?’”
Little did Euliano know, this mystery book series would land her on the Editor’s Pick on Amazon.
She and Gravenstein began writing the fictional mystery novel “Fatal Intent” before Gravenstein fell ill and passed away in 2009.
“I will always remember that he caused my writing bug,” she said. “I started taking classes and learning as much as possible about writing, storytelling, points of view and plotlines.”
She said she quickly realized that reading a lot did not translate to writing a fictional novel. Medical writing is one thing, but fictional writing is an entirely different beast.
Euliano joked, if someone were to read her first novel, they would say, “What? This makes no sense,” speaking about how she felt her first novel seemed to have “a million points of view.”
“You have to be in the mind of one character at the beginning of the story, which sounds so obvious, but I didn’t recognize it at the time,” she said. “You can’t get stuck in the craft. You must be completely immersed in the story, which is the writer I strive to be. I might not be there quite yet, but I am getting there.”
Published in 2021, “Fatal Intent” introduces the main character, Dr. Kate Downey, an academic anesthesiologist at an unnamed University Hospital in North Central Florida. Kate comes across some mysterious deaths of elderly patients after surgery and wants to know what is going on, but some people around her want the opposite.
Euliano’s second novel in the Kate Downey Medical Mystery series is “Misfire” which was published on Jan. 3 of this year.
“When I wrote the first book, I had no intention of it being a series,” she said. “The thought of an anesthesiologist having multiple bad things happen seemed too farfetched. But my publisher thought Kate would make a great series character.”
Comparing her writing experience from the first novel to her second, Euliano said it was a very different experience.
Her first book took many years and featured nearly 50 different versions. Writing her second novel, she didn’t have much time to overthink the words on the page. She said there is newfound pressure after her second novel, especially since her readers anticipate a third book.
“I am currently writing the third novel of the series,” she said. “The third one is even a little bit harder. Partly because I want it to be believable.”
Euliano spends three days a week at the UF Health Shands Hospital taking care of patients and still has medical students and residents assigned to her that she teaches every week.
She advises anyone striving to become an author to read as much as possible, figure out a genre that interests them and find groups online or in person who writes in their chosen genre. She said those groups help young authors learn the craft and meet experienced writers, and it’s a safe place to share ideas and receive feedback.
“Fatal Intent” and “Misfire” can be purchased on Amazon, Google Books, iBooks, and Barnes & Noble, along with other stores and websites.