GP Life: Viewpoint - My career after retirement

Former North Yorkshire GP Dr Carol Tetlow is enjoying her new career as an author

Harrogate in North Yorkshire must be one of the loveliest, happiest places to work. It's a busy, cosmopolitan town buoyed up by the conference centre and awash with shops and good places to eat.

But working as a partner in a town centre surgery with 16,000 patients for almost 30 years was tough.

Continually striving to do the best for my patients, upholding the standards I believed in and juggling the enforced changes day after day took their toll and to survive, interests outside work were imperative.

Debut novel

I started writing seriously in 2007, with my first novel, Out of Practice, based in general practice but in a world where I was in control.

Although daily life in the surgery forms the backdrop, my main protagonist was one of the doctors and the story tells how she copes when her professional and private lives fall apart at the same time. This was the first in what is now a series of four novels, all based in and around the same fictional practice.

If writing the novel was challenging, that paled into insignificance when compared with the task of finding a literary agent to take me on. How do you tell one from another from their websites?

Keep trying, I kept telling myself as rejection slips appeared in my inbox, but then suddenly someone was interested and signed me up.

Again, I thought, that's the hard bit over, but as months passed and communications became fewer and more vague, my agent vanished into the ether.

Back to square one, but a couple of years later, I was signed up by someone else, who seemed proactive and enthusiastic. I truly believe he was these things and I was devastated to receive an email from him saying he was giving up to move abroad.

Maybe things do happen for a reason. At a loss for something different to do, I posted my four novels on a website,, where agents and publishers worldwide can view your work. A long shot if ever there was one.

If numbers were to be relied on, my work was being looked at, but nobody contacted me, apart from one publisher who offered to publish one novel for $13,000. Thanks, but no thanks.

Then, on the very same day that my second agent and I parted company, I was asked to contact Guy Boulianne, president of a French Canadian publisher, Editions Dedicaces. Within hours, I had signed a contract and my first novel was to become a reality.

It was published in June 2014 and I retired from general practice six weeks later, in accordance with my long-term plan.

Armed with my leaving present from the practice - a Welsh Section A pony (who needs a carriage clock?) - I came home to start a new life and do the things I have always wanted to.

Book signing

In October 2014, I had my first book signing in Harrogate. More than 80 copies of my novel were sold in an hour and a half. Faith Hope and Clarity, my second novel, was published in February 2015.

General practice provides a unique insight into life that no other job does.

In which other occupation are we so privileged to travel with people through their lives, share the ups and downs, the good and the tragic, the tears and the laughter?

While my novels are in no way autobiographical, I do draw on my experiences for ideas and plots.

I don't miss work, but at times I miss the people - my colleagues, the staff and the patients. But the time was right for me to leave.

I'm currently working on my next novel, but I have plenty of other interests to occupy me and it has been a joy to have the time to catch up properly with friends.

I also have 10 donkeys, two ponies, four irrepressible Labradors, two cats and one husband to look after.

I am trying my hand at carriage driving, playing tennis and enjoying life in the Yorkshire Dales, where my novels are set and where we have lived for the past 11 years.

My books are now available from,,, among others.

My own website is at www., while my fictional medical centre has its own Facebook page at https://www.face

- Download our iPad edition for an exclusive extract from Dr Tetlow's novel, Faith Hope and Clarity

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