Barry Eisenberg

When I was in graduate school, I did an internship in a hospital which prompted my decision to pursue a career in health care management. I followed that path, working in the field my entire professional life, as a hospital executive and, more recently, as a consultant and associate professor of health care management in a graduate program at the State University of New York (SUNY).

Early in my career, working at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, I was taken by the strong commitment of staff to their patients. I vividly recall being apprehensive about my first visit to the Pediatrics floor. And indeed, seeing children with life-threatening illnesses was difficult and heart-breaking. But looking into their eyes, what shone through was hope and fortitude, in large measure a credit to the devoted staff. Their dedication was omnipresent – a nurse reading to a five-year-old while holding his hand as he received his chemo treatment, an art therapist applauding a seven-year-old’s drawing of his dog, a physical therapist sitting on the floor with a toddler, building blocks. Meeting these children and witnessing the extraordinarily caring staff, helped me to understand the meaning of courage in a new and deeper way. Today, at SUNY, many of my students reinforce that definition of courage as they are on the front lines of providing care, selflessly facing challenges.

I relish the feeling of inspiration I get from the wonderfully quiet and modest heroics of ordinary people facing situations that test them, that necessitate looking deep inside to find untapped inner strengths. I often considered writing a work of fiction about this, and finally found my protagonist in the most chance of ways. Several years ago, while listening to the radio as I drove home from work, I caught the tail-end of a human-interest story about a young man who had spent years looking for his father whose identity was a mystery. The story spurred my imagination, pondering the anguish such a search could entail.

This became the impetus for my first novel, Primal Calling, about Jack, a twenty-year-old, whose search for his father becomes an all-consuming mission. It’s a tale of international intrigue, but it is also about a journey of self-discovery. Jack, as well as the other characters, are composites of people whose stories have touched me deeply, often because they possess no extraordinary qualities but find themselves tested in ways they could never have foreseen.

Aside from those I met through my work, of course, the lives of family and friends have resonated as well. A few years ago, at my wife’s urging, my aunt Doris, then 105, came to live with us in our New Jersey home. She had always resisted anything that would hamper her independence, but Doris thrived, living happily for another year and a half before, as she had once so aptly articulated, her body “betrayed” her. This experience has prompted the idea for my second novel, currently in the works, about the tensions and tribulations a family experiences when an aging parent is no longer able to live alone.

Until Primal Calling, my writing was nonfiction, focusing on the future of health care and higher education. Through this most recent process, I discovered a passion for writing fiction, sometimes exhilarating, sometimes draining, but always engrossing.

My wife, Amy, and I were college sweethearts. We enjoy hiking, taking cooking classes, and competing with one another as we watch Jeopardy (she usually wins). I have been an avid bicycle rider, riding with a group of 8 friends for the past 25 years. I also have been renewing my childhood love of horseback riding. Amy and I have three grown children, all of whom are involved in the arts. We feel so fortunate that our family has expanded with the loving partners they have chosen. Our grandson is the pot of gold at the end of this family rainbow, adding colors we never knew existed. We currently share our home with a coonhound mix, a ginger cat, and an eclectus parrot. Or, more fittingly, we appreciate their willingness to share their home with us.