Friday, October 20, 2006

BookEnds Talks to Andrew Holtz

Andrew Holtz
Book: The Medical Science of "House, M.D."
Publisher: Berkley
Pub date: October 2006
Agent: Kim Lionetti

Andrew Holtz, MPH, a former CNN Medical Correspondent, is an independent journalist in Portland, Oregon. He is a board member and past President of the Association of Health Care Journalists.

Author Web site:

BookEnds: Describe your book in 50 words or less.
Andrew: How realistic are the bizarre cases and desperate treatments portrayed each week on the hit Fox TV show House, M.D.? My book finds both surprising facts and thought-provoking fictions.

BookEnds: Besides the obvious audience for your book (those the publisher targets), who else do you think can benefit from what you’ve written?
Andrew: In addition to satisfying the curiosity of House, M.D. fans, my book uses themes and episodes from the show as springboards to examine important issues of health and medicine, such as the rights of patients, the sources of medical errors, the transformation of medicine away from responding to sudden crises (like those seen on the show) toward long-term management of chronic ailments (such as diabetes, heart disease, and the challenges facing cancer survivors).

BookEnds: If readers only take away one thing from your book, what would you like it to be?
Andrew: While we all would want a brilliant doctor caring for us if we faced a mysterious, life-threatening ailment, all the high-tech devices and aggressive treatments showcased on House, M.D. are essentially irrelevant to protecting our health. Staying healthy in the first place depends mostly on where and how we live, factors that Dr. House would be powerless to change.

BookEnds: What else are you working on?
Andrew: Writing this book created an opportunity for me to begin a magazine column examining how medicine is portrayed on TV. Rather than explaining medicine to viewers, however, my column (which will appear first in Oncology Times) explains to doctors and nurses why TV portrays medicine the way it does and what they could learn from TV about the beliefs and knowledge patients and policymakers have about health care.

BookEnds: What are you reading now?
Andrew: The Holy Vote: The Politics of Faith in America by Ray Suarez. Ray and I worked together in the CNN Los Angeles bureau many years ago . . . but the main reason to read this book is his marvelous style and insightful perspective.

Your Money or Your Life: Strong Medicine for America's Health Care System by David M. Cutler. I’m developing a documentary film project on the relationship of medicine to health. Dr. Cutler mounts a passionate argument on behalf of the value of medicine—but other researchers question some of his basic assumptions, noting that although Americans use far more medicine than people in other countries, we are slipping behind in global measures of health and longevity.

BookEnds: What are your hobbies or outside interests?
Andrew: I bicycle everywhere . . . in one of the most bike-friendly cities in America. And I’m involved in community and government efforts to improve the livability of the community by making it an even better place to walk and bike.

My many years of covering health and medicine have taught me that I want to avoid hospitals as much as possible. Living in a community where adequate physical activity is just part of everyday life (and not just something you have to join a gym for) is one of the best ways to stay healthy. If forced to choose who would be most likely to help me and those I love live long and healthy lives, I’d pick an innovative urban planner of Dr. House any day.

To learn more about Andrew Holtz, see Our Books at


Lisa Hunter said...

Interesting interview. Is the publisher marketing the book towards screenwriters? If not, they should. House MD is one of the "hot" shows for wannabe TV writers to spec, and the screenwriting blogs are full of questions about how to get the science right.

Anonymous said...

Very nice article. I'm a House fan and I didn't realize this book was out. I think it's an interesting concept and I'll definitely have to check out this book.

Kim Lionetti said...

Lisa-- Thanks for the tip. That's a terrific idea!