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Robin CookFame & Fortune: Robin Cook
Workaholic doctor-author says money never a goal

You've got your kindly Dr. Phil, your brooding Dr. House and your sexy Dr. McDreamy, but for a guaranteed adrenaline rush, there's only one master of medical mayhem: Robin Cook.

Today, the 66-year-old, Harvard-trained ophthalmologist-turned-mega-selling-author still reigns over the medical thriller genre he created with his 1980 debut novel, "Coma."

Cook worked his way through Columbia University's Medical School by running a blood-gas lab at night and supplementing his income with a variety of scut jobs within the hospital, including drawing blood and cleaning the cages of lab animals. Many of Cook's best chase sequences are set deep in the bowels of major medical centers where he once pulled all-nighters.

The workaholic doctor got a taste of the larger world when the Cousteau Society recruited him to run its blood-gas lab in the South of France. Intrigued by diving, he later called on a connection he made through Cousteau to become an aquanaut with the Navy Sealab when he was drafted in 1969.

With the success of his first novel and its hit movie version, Cook happily pursued both careers, turning out a thriller each year while caring for patients at his Boston medical practice.

Twenty-six books later, Cook still keeps readers up nights by combining breakneck action with insightful examinations of such medical controversies as organ harvesting, stem cell research, in vitro fertilization and bioterrorism. In his latest novel, "Crisis," he even crafts a nail-biter out of the debate over boutique medicine.

Bankrate paged the good doctor stat. at his summer home in Martha's Vineyard, Mass., for a checkup on his very healthy career.

Bankrate: At 66, you're still practicing medicine. With 26 books behind you, you certainly don't have to work one job, much less two.

Cook: It took me a long time to feel like I was a doctor, so now I can't stop feeling like I'm a doctor. I'm actually on the staff of the teaching hospital, and in my spare time I write these novels.

Bankrate: Is it true that you wrote "Coma" in six weeks?

Cook: Yeah. I was motivated, and I didn't have much choice. And it was written at night because I was a (medical) resident.

Bankrate: Did you always want to write?

Next: "I'm kind of a real American story in some respects."
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