QUESTION: Was it your medical career that first brought you to Boca Grande?
ANSWER: Actually, I already had a place here on the island. I worked as a surgeon in Indiana for years and, when I retired from my surgery practice, the clinic was looking for a part-time physician and they knew I had a place on the island.
Q: How did you come to buy property on Boca Grande?
A: It was back in the late 1970s. Somebody suggested that I had to look at this island with beautiful beaches that was different from the rest of Florida. My mom and dad were down in Naples so they came up and looked at it and thought it was idyllic. We had vacationed here and then bought the property.
Q: Has Boca Grande lived up to your expectations?
A: In every way. It really has. I never regretted it. It's a wonderful place to retire.
Q: What was the toughest case you ever had to treat on Boca Grande?
A: The deaths of some of my friends, spouses or relatives, and helping people deal with that. There were several of those occasions. People I got to know as patients or were friends in other ways.
Q: What made you hang up the scalpel?
A: You have to call it quits some time. Part of it was my interest in writing and being able to focus more on that and being able to spend more time doing that. I just knew that I'd practiced long enough. I miss some of it but I'm comfortable with the decision.
Q: As a published author to-be, what's it feel like when your book is about to drop?
A: It's exciting but there's a fair amount of trepidation about it. You're putting it out there on the line and you know not everybody is going to like it. That's not why I write. But you want it to be appreciated and successful and you don't know if it will be or not. So I'm a little ambivalent about it.
Q: When will “Surgeon Stories” be available to the public?
A: It's going to be shipped Monday (April 11, interview took place April 8).
Q: What can readers expect in the book?
A: The book is a collection of 10 short stories written over the past 30 years. All the stories have been published in literary magazines or reviews except two new stories in the collection. So they represent a body of work of many years.
Q: Have you always had a writing interest?
A: For a long time, yeah. I was an English major in college. But I didn't write until I got to be 40 when I studied creative writing at Indiana University.
Q: Ideally, what happens with this book? Does it launch a new career for you?
A: Good question. I haven't throught too much about that. I've written two unpublished novels and I have an agent in New York who, I'm hoping if this book is successful, will draw attention from publishers who might be interested in the novels.
Q: What reader would be attracted to “Surgeon Stories?”
A: I consider this literary fiction as opposed to other genres such as romance or mystery. It will appeal to people who like to read literary fiction versus other genres. There are overlaps. Mystery writer Elmore Leonard writes literary fiction. Also, there's a tremendous interest in stories about medicine and I think that will have a universal appeal to people.
Q: What writers do you look up to as role models?
A: A number of writers have influenced me. I would include in that: Raymond Carver, a great short-story writer. That whole generation of Carver, Tobias Wolff, Richard Ford and Joy Williams. One of my mentors and the publishing editor of this book is Sena Jaslund.
Q: Of the 10 stories in “Surgeon Stories,” do you have a favorite?
A: Yes. My favorite story is “I am the Grass.” It got a lot of attention nationally. It's been in a lot of anthologies and college textbooks, and was short-listed for the O'Henry Award and Best American Short Story. That was kind of the high point of my writing career.
Q: You haven't peaked yet, doc, have you?
A: I don't know about that. (Laughs).
Q: What's on your bedstand right now?
A: I just finished Tom McGuane's “Driving on the Rim.” He lives on the island. He's fabulous. He's funny. He's a big-time talent.
'Surgeon Stories' is now on bookstands.
Fact BoxPhoto credit: Terry O'Connor
Daly Walker at a glance:
Occupation: Doctor turned author
Birth date: Sept. 3, 1940
Hometown: Winchester, Ind.
Residence: Boca Grande
Family: Three daughters and longtime companion and partner, Toni Wolcott
Education: Undergraduate degree from Ohio Wesleyan, medical school Indiana University and surgery residency at the University of Wisconsin
How discovered Boca Grande: Vacations beginning in the 1970s
Who: Boca Grande resident Dr. Daly Walker
When: 4 p.m. April 21
Where: Johann Fust Community Library
Why: book signing and reading for Walker's “Surgeon Stories”
Publisher: Sena Jeter Naslund of Fleur-de-Lis Press in Louisville, Ky., is coming to Boca Grande for this event. Contains an extraordinary story, “I Am The Grass,” which was featured in the Atlantic Monthly in 2000 and was nominated for Best Magazine Story of the Year.