Name Stephen A. Geller
Where are you from? Brooklyn, New York
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. I went to Manhattan’s Stuyvesant High School, renowned for its emphasis on science and mathematics, with many accomplished individuals among its graduates, including four Nobel laureates. I went on to Brooklyn College where I began as a liberal arts major but later switched to a pre-medical curriculum. After a year of graduate studies in biology at New York University I studied at the Howard University College of Medicine in Washington, D.C., earning the M.D. degree in May 1964.
I was a rotating (internal medicine, surgery, pediatrics, obstetrics-gynecology, emergency medicine) intern at Manhattan’s Lenox Hill Hospital from 1964 to 1965 and then a resident in pathology, from 1965-1969, at The Mount Sinai Hospital. From 1969 to 1971 I was Lieutenant Commander and chief of laboratory services at the Naval Hospital, Beaufort, S.C.. I returned to Mount Sinai in 1971, joining the faculty of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine as assistant professor and eventually achieving full professorship. From January 1975 to June 1978 I was acting chairman. I was awarded the Excellence in Teaching award from the City University of New York in 1974 and was inducted into Alpha Omega Alpha, the honor medical society, in 1982. I had various leadership positions at both Mount Sinai and Cedars-Sinai as well as in a number of professional organizations (see below) and in 2015 was elected president of the History of Pathology Society. I was a co-founder of the Hans Popper Hepatopathology Society, named in honor of his teacher, now in its 25th year.
In 1984 I left Mount Sinai to become chairman of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, and was also appointed as professor at UCLA. For 22 years I led the pathology department at Cedars-Sinai, including 35 faculty members, 24 residents and fellows, and more than 350 technicians, technologists and other support staff. During that period I was awarded the Golden Apple Award for excellence in teaching five times. I remained on the faculty at Cedars-Sinai for another six years and now teach part-time at both UCLA and at the Weill Cornell College of Medicine in New York.
I served as vice-president of the New York Pathological Society before moving to Los Angeles. I was subsequently elected President of the Los Angeles Society of Pathologist and the President of the California Society of Pathologists. In 2010 the Los Angeles Society of Pathologists presented me with its Lifetime Achievement Award. I have been selected for “Who’s Who in America,” “Who’s Who in Medicine and Healthcare,” “Who’s Who in American Education,” and “Who’s Who in Science and Engineering.”
Recognized nationally and internationally as an expert in liver pathology and the autopsy, I authored more than 200 scientific articles, book chapters and monographs and co-authored two textbooks of pathology: Histopathology and then Biopsy Interpretation of the Liver, which had two editions. I have given more than a hundred invited lectures at scientific venues and medical centers throughout the world, speaking about liver and gastrointestinal diseases, autopsy and the history of pathology. I developed an elective course for medical students at Mount Sinai entitled “Medicine in Literature,” which I continued for residents at Cedars-Sinai where I also developed another elective, “Medicine in Film.”
I have been married more then 50 years to Kate DeJong Geller, who I met when she was a student nurse and I was a technician at New York’s Lenox Hill Hospital. Our son, David, is a software developer and entrepreneur who lives in Seattle with his wife, Cathia, and daughter, Lila. Our daughter, Jennifer, is a graduate of the Benjamin Cardozo School of Law and is currently completing a master’s degree in mediation and conflict resolution at Columbia University.
In 2014, my first novel, A Little Piece of Me, was published, with many laudatory reviews. It is the story of Marcia Kleinman, an accomplished musician at the prime of her life who is forced to make some heart-wrenching decisions. She has a difficult husband and a difficult mother and her little boy, Max, has been diagnosed with a rare liver disease that will likely require a liver transplant. As Max’s health declines, Marcia is faced with challenges testing her spirit, her resolve and, especially, her sense of self. She increasingly finds solace at her piano, searching for the elusive heart of Beethoven’s Appassionata. Her music is her salvation as she rediscovers her strength and passion dealing with life changing and life saving decisions while her marriage crumbles and her son gets sicker and sicker.
I am now working on new novels and short stories, as well as chapters for a major new textbook devoted to the history of pathology. My blog, Brooklyn Transplant, is at http://www.stephenageller.com.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I am working on two novels, “Personal Medicine” and “must have/settle/definitely not,” as well as a number of short stories and postings for my blog.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I began writing in junior high school but in college changed directions and did not resume creative writing for 50 years.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When my first novel received flattering reviews.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I have wanted to be a writer since I was in junior high school but a career in medicine got in the way. My recently published novel was inspired by a incident in my professional life when I encountered the liver biopsy from a sick child and wondered about the effects his chronic illness would have on his family..
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
Not that I know.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
The novel is about a mother wanting to donate a piece of her liver to her son who will need a liver transplant.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
You should be true to yourself, whether you are a woman or a man.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
All, I hope
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Not specifically, but some of the characters are loosely based on people I have known.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?
Many books and many authors: Charles Dickens, Ian McEwan, D.M. Thomas, A.S. Byatt, W. Somerset Maugham, Irwin Shaw, Ernest Hemingway, A. Conan Doyle, Alexander Solzhenitsyn.
Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
W. Somerset Maugham
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
“And the Show Went On” by Alan Riding (non-fiction), “Paris” by Edward Rutherford, and “ “The Narrows” by Michael Connelly.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Anthony Doerr, Michael Connely.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
Two novels, short stories, blog posts.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Friends and colleagues.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Probably from being being a voracious reader as a child, mostly stimulated by my mother.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
“Personal Medicine” is, very loosely, reminiscent of “The Caine Mutiny” but it takes place in a hospital.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
No one favorite – see above for many favorites.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Rewriting and rewriting and rewriting and rewriting. And then rewriting.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
It’s very hard work.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
No. I think you have to be very stubborn to be a writer.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I hope my book is enjoyable and not too painful and that it teaches you new ideas and ways of thinking. I hope my main character, Marcia, is admrable, inspirational and likeable.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
The first “real” book I read was Dumas’ “The Three Musketeers” although I had already been through all of the Hardy Boys books.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Laugh: funny people (i.e., Jack Benny, Sid Ceasar, Buddy Hackett, Richard Pryor, Abbott and Costello, Chaplin, Buster Keaton, others), funny movies (i.e.,“It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad World,” “To Be or Not to Be,” “The Horse’s Mouth,” “The Producers,” others). Cry: movies in which people/characters I come to like very much get hurt or have wonderful things happen to them (i.e., “Terms of Endearment,” “Philadelphia,” “Mr. Holland’s Opus,” “Bambi,” “It’s a Wonderful Life,” others)
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
Beethoven. Truth, passion, courage, beauty.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
Pathologist, Teacher, Historian,Writer – Born in Brooklyn – loved life and many wonderful people he was blessed to know
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
See above in “laugh/cry.”
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music Foods:
Swordfish, Sole, Red Snapper, red wine, gelato – Colors: burgundy, yellow – Music: Beethoven, Tchaikowsky, Brahms, Bach, Mayler, Cole Porter, Rodgers & Hammerstein, “Man of La Mancha,” “Les Miserables,” cabaret piano, Puccini, others
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I’ve been very lucky – I already did it; I was a pathologist
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
– Stephen A. Geller