January 2014 through December 2014 - Page 8

Interview by Susan Reichert I like the above title that is on Darden North’s website at www.dardennorth.com. This doctor, an obstetrics and gynecology physician, writes highly-readable murder mysteries and medical thrillers. In Wiggle Room, his newest novel, Dr. Brad Cummins saves a man’s life. Now that same man wants him dead. Darden’s first three novels received national awards, including an IPPY in Southern Fiction for Points of Origin. His novel, Fresh Frozen, is in the screenplay adaption for film development. The 2008 Next Generation Indie Book Awards awarded his book House Call Finalist in Mystery/Suspense. He has a way with writing that pulls you into a world filled with conflicts, danger and excitement. Darden, what drew you into writing your first book? Once I was established in private medical practice and away from medical school and OB/GYN residency training, I fell into a little leisure time. I started reading first editions of some of the emerging bestselling authors from Mississippi including John Grisham and Greg Iles and decided that maybe a practicing physician could do the same. Four published books later with a fifth novel-in-progress, I’m still a fulltime OB/GYN physician, married to Sally, and we have a busy family. How do you manage your time to write and juggle with your being a doctor? I’ve never been about wasting time or not being productive. Twenty-five years of formal education, if you count kindergarten, hasn’t blunted my imagination. Your protagonists are always well developed. What is your process? My protagonist projects many weaknesses and 8 Southern Writers strengths—a sufferer of both internal and external conflict with a unique identity written to appeal to any reader, male or female. Of course, whether that protagonist is actually male or female depends on the story most of the time, but I agree that many readers are looking for strong female characters that are central to the story. How do you maintain your main character’s voice amidst all the other voices? Every scene must advance the main character’s story line even if he or she is not in the scene or even in that chapter. When the protagonist is back on stage, I quickly try to show how the previous action has affected him or her. The reader looks for this character progression. I notice you have a unique way in writing dialogue. My editor and publisher both stress—and I agree—that each segment of dialogue should be no longer than two or three sentences and should never be buried in the center of a descriptive paragraph. Each word uttered by a character should give meaning to the story or push the action forward. Are you involved in your marketing? With the release of my current novel, Wiggle Room, I worked with a commercial publisher, Sartoris Literary Group. We tried some different marketing tools. With the push toward eBooks, a short-term free download on Kindle was offered, propelling Wiggle Room to “bestselling” status on Amazon, and it led to more