Before writing The Doctor and Mr. Dylan, Rick Novak worked as a clinical anesthesiologist, medical director, and expert witness in Northern California.
Rick was born in Hibbing, Minnesota, to a welding foreman and a homemaker. His mother read two books per week, and Rick developed the same habit, frequently bicycling the four blocks from their home to the public library to pick out new material. He graduated from Hibbing High School in 1972, and was accepted to Harvard College. For his Harvard application essay Rick penned a short story about God revealing Himself to two drunks in a Minnesota tavern.
Rick declined Harvard and enrolled instead at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, where he received a degree in Chemistry in 1976. From 1973-1977 Rick worked five summers with United States Steel in the iron ore mines near Hibbing. He played on the United States Junior Men’s Curling championship teams in 1974 and 1975. Rick then studied medicine at the University of Chicago School, graduated with an MD in 1980, and moved to California the following day to become an intern at Stanford Hospital.
He spent the next thirty-plus years at Stanford, where he served as an intern, a resident in internal medicine, an emergency room faculty member, an anesthesia resident, and finally as an Adjunct Clinical Associate Professor of Anesthesia and Deputy Chief of the Anesthesia Department at Stanford.
Rick’s writing career blossomed in the role of Deputy Chief, where he authored a monthly column in the department newsletter. The theme of each essay centered on the differences between the private practice of anesthesia and the university-based teaching practice of anesthesia. He began posting these essays on The Anesthesia Consultant website (theanesthesiaconsultant.com) in 2010. Readership grew, and now hundreds of thousands of people visit the website each year.
Beginning in 2001, Dr. Novak developed an interest in anesthesia medical-legal consultation, a role that drew him into the courtroom as an expert witness.
Rick’s lifelong dream of creating entertaining fiction led him to imagine a story: the plot dealt with an anesthesia complication, a crumbling marriage, a son’s quest for elite college admission, and a courtroom drama, all set in his and Bob Dylan’s hometown of Hibbing, Minnesota. Three years of writing and rewriting yielded the manuscript of The Doctor and Mr. Dylan. In 2014, literary agent Anne Devlin believed the story was a winner, and sold the book to Pegasus Publishing.
Rick continues his work in clinical anesthesia at Stanford Hospital and at Waverley Surgery Center in Palo Alto, California. He lives with his three sons, Zachary, Theo, and Oliver, and passes on his love of academics and reading to them.
Rick’s second novel, Doctor Vita, is being published in 2019.