The adaptation of Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s MONDAY MORNINGS into a television series debuted on TNT last month. It has since garnered media attention and is sending watchers and readers alike running to the shelves to find out where it all began: in a book, of course.
With an addicting, fast-paced plotline reminiscent of Grey’s Anatomy and a bright and brainy writing style like Oliver Sacks, Gupta’s Monday Mornings is a medical novel that had our palms sweating and hearts thumping with all of its gritty and grave insight into the dramatic life of a team of surgeons.
Read Sanjay’s interview with Reader Store below and check out our exclusive behind-the-scenes photos from shooting the television series. The hospital never sounded so appealing, right?
RS: We know MONDAY MORNINGS is a novel, but how much of the book is based on true events?
SG: These meetings, which are called Morbidity and Mortality or Death and Complications, are real events. They occur in most hospitals, and are part of the peer review process. In fact, most hospitals require them as part of graduate medical education. The particular stories are fictionalized accounts of things I have observed or inferred over the 20 years since graduating from medical school. The characters are all amalgams of people—real and fictional, current and historic. More than anything, I would describe the book as very authentic, and everything you read is certainly possible. It is still, however, a fiction.
RS: Can you tell us briefly about a story or detail you wanted to fit into MONDAY MORNINGS but was not ultimately included?
SG: When I first started writing the book, I was thinking of it as non-fiction. My goal was to describe how doctors learn, and the role of a candid meeting in that process. The history of the meeting and its evolution is fascinating, and I wished I could’ve included more about that in the book. In the first draft, there were entire sections about the secretive nature of the meeting, and its importance in allowing doctors to speak freely and hold each other accountable. The final product didn’t have as many of those details, because it strayed too much from the main narrative of the book. Also, one of my most profound learning experiences came from a scrub nurse, named Donna. In many ways, she was a significant mentor in the operating room for all the junior residents. Doctors could not do their jobs without the collaboration of their nursing colleagues; I wished that story would have made the final cut. Perhaps, you will see a version of it in the television series by the same name.
RS: What will readers of MONDAY MORNINGS take away from the book that they won’t get from the television series? And vice versa?
SG: In the book, I think the flow and beat of the hospital, Chelsea General, is more apparent. Having spent nearly a decade of training in academic hospitals, I always felt the hospital was my real home. I spent more than a hundred hours a week there, during the most formative decade of my life. In the book, the hospital is a character of its own.
In the television series, you see the various doctors come to life in a way that a book cannot offer. When reading the book, you automatically fill in the details of the character—including exactly what they look like, the way they speak, other specific details and idiosyncrasies. In the TV series, much more of that is given to you. I think the TV show is a more visceral experience because of the pacing, music and overall feel. While they both offer similar story lines, it is a very different experience.
RS: Who did you have in mind as your main audience when you wrote MONDAY MORNINGS? And now that it’s a television series, do you think that audience is going to shift?
SG: Medicine is one of the great common denominators of societies all over the world. We will likely all spend time in hospitals as patients or as loved ones of patients. At the time you are going through that, it becomes the most important chapter of your life. As a result, I think the audience is quite broad. Because of the authenticity of the book, in rare instances it will deal with some pretty tough subject matter. I think the television audience will be similar, however, there seems to be groups of people who will always gravitate toward the book and others who will just watch television. There seems to be a large group of people who have started watching the tv series and then purchased the book to learn more about the background of these stories and characters.
RS: Outside of your career, what would you say is one of your biggest passions/hobbies?
SG: I am a dad of three daughters, and they are my biggest passion. More recently, I have become very organized about my athletic activities. I have always enjoyed fitness, but recently started doing triathlons regularly. This year, I will do a few—including my first Iron Man.
Suddenly, Monday isn’t so bad . . . Download Monday Mornings available at Reader Store.
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