Wisdom of the Ages: ER Doctor/Author Daniel Kalla Tackles the Impact of the Black Death in New Novel

Author and ER doctor Daniel Kalla.

Photo: DanielKalla.com

The bestselling author Daniel Kalla, 53, also has a day job — as an emergency room doctor in Vancouver, which might explain the titles of some of his novels; Pandemic, Rage Therapy and Blood Lies to name a few. His latest, We All Fall Down, explores how we react when health crises hit and everyone wants someone to blame. Set between medieval and modern-day Italy when the plague hits, Kalla weaves together historic fiction with a medical and political drama. “I was inspired by an article I read about how the Black Death reshaped medieval society. By mirroring a modern outbreak with the medieval one, I hope to demonstrate that while society and science have evolved since the Middle Ages, human nature hasn’t,” says Kalla. “Weakness, corruption and fear of the unknown exist now as they did then. And the consequences of a severe plague threaten to be just as horrifying.”

The cover of the book "We All Fall Down" By Daniel Kalla.
“We All Fall Down” By Daniel Kalla.

What advice do you wish you’d given your 25-year-old self?

Breathe. There’s no rush to get anywhere when you’re 25. If you live responsibly – even semi-responsibly – your career, your partner and your path in life will find you. Look too hard, and you’ll end up chasing your own tail.   

What advice would you give your 80-year-old self?

Exercise. Live in the moment. And don’t act your age! If you’re fortunate enough to make it to 80, you deserve to enjoy every moment as best as your mind and your body will allow.

What do you know for sure?

Precious little. I do know that uncertainty is often a blessing.

What have you learned?

It’s okay to make mistakes. Many of the best things that have happened to me have been born in moments of “failure.” 

What will you never learn?

It’s okay to make mistakes. It’s a lesson I have to constantly re-learn. I don’t deal all that well with failure.

What inspires you?

Almost anything. A random smile. My daughters’ laughter. Sunshine in the winter. The ingenuity of humans. The empathy of animals. Small acts of kindness. Belly laughter. A new story idea. Happy endings … and you know what I mean! … the old-fashioned kind.

The moment that changed everything?

The closest I’ve ever come to an epiphanic moment is the time, five years ago, I steeled my nerves to jump off a 50-foot cliff into the ocean in Kauai. It was the moment I realized that change is worth risk. But I would’ve chickened out for sure if not for the British family who conveniently decided to picnic on the same bluff at the edge of which I was perched, forcing me to choose my pride over my natural cowardice.

Happiness is …

I’d say that a sense of purpose, through my work and writing, and human connection, to friends and loved ones, are keys to my happiness or, at least, to my contentment. Except for a blue-bird day at the top of a ski hill, I have no idea how to consistently find happiness, but I do know that for me it often starts with appreciating the moment.