Book Addict with Angela Wilson
Virtual Sitdown with Darden North
by Angela Wilson
Darden North takes his medical acumen into the writing realm, thrilling readers with medical mysteries guaranteed to keep them on edge. Today, North sits down for a chat with Book Addict Editor Angela Wilson. Find out more about his writing habits and his latest novel.
Book Addict: Tell us about your latest novel, Fresh Frozen.
Darden: In this contemporary medical thriller, a young policeman and his tormented wife discover that human reproductive tissue can become a fatal commodity. A grisly southern murder, a movie star, and a heist of frozen human embryos draw both male and female readers of mystery and suspense into an intriguing twist of human greed, mental torment, and medical science. Fresh Frozen was released in hardcover in October 2008.
Book Addict: You are an obstetrician/gynecologist by day. What do you see in your profession when it comes to couples who desperately want children, but cannot conceive? How did their trials become part of this book?
Darden: Fresh Frozen is not based on any one patient or group of patients. My fiction is not a twisted treatise on my medical practice, and I am careful to separate the two. That being said … like “they” say … you have to write what you know.
Book Addict: What do your colleagues think about you writing medical thrillers? Do they ever eye you a bit suspiciously after reading a particularly grisly scene in one of your books?
Darden: I am a more senior partner of a single-specialty, full-service obstetrics and gynecology group in Jackson, MS, which is soon to contain 15 physicians, a cohesive mixture of both male and female doctors – a really great bunch of smart, talented people whom I consider friends. They (as well as our employees) have electively supported my book signings and read my books – and still have not changed the locks to the clinic’s doors. All fifteen of us have outside interests, whether they be hunting, playing golf, raising small and large children, traveling, decorating houses, drinking beer (while not on duty, of course), or watching sports. (Incidentally, none of those aforementioned activities are necessarily meant to be gender-biased.) Several partners have complimented me for my imagination as well as my dexterity in publishing three novels over the last four years, while maintaining a fulltime career as a doctor.
Book Addict: Your novels take place in the south. How much of your Mississippi upbringing in the 1950s plays a part in your writing?
Darden: Every bit of my upbringing plays a part in my writing, but please let me clarify that I was born in 1956 and consider my upbringing to have been in the 1960s and 1970s! Regarding the regional influence on my creativity, I agree with the someone who said that the reason that there are so many southern writers is they we are always trying to explain ourselves. My approach to placing my novels in the South is to write from a contemporary, non-civil-rights-era point of view, which many readers may find surprising and, I hope, refreshing. Whether a character is black or white may be crucial to a storyline in my books, or maybe not. I believe that people who are not truly familiar with us down here or over here in Mississippi and surrounding states would be surprised at how truly well the races presently get along. I enjoy describing the Mississippi terrain, its truly unique buildings and towns (both real and fictionalized), and the people – well, the material for characterization is endless as the absurd are portrayed as believable.
Book Addict: Writing has always been part of your life. Had you always thought you would write novels eventually, or was writing more of a hobby while you put yourself through medical school?
Dsrden: Fortunately, I have never had to rely on my writing for groceries or to pay the light bill, although I did get several hundred dollars in scholarship money to edit the University of Mississippi yearbook, the 1978 OLE MISS, as well as the 1982 MEDIC, the yearbook of my senior year in medical school. Both opportunities gave me a finite taste for seeing my written word and creativity in print. Ob/gyn residency and establishing a private medical practice, as well as raising two children with my wife Sally, put further writing on hiatus. Then sometime around 1985, I started the 10-year hike of writing my first published novel, House Call (hardcover 2005, paperback 2007) and then Points of Origin followed in hardcover in 1986.
Book Addict: What is it like to balance life as an obstetrician/gynecologist, husband and an author?
Darden: I can never waste any time, but I like to stay busy. I’m happier that way. I believe that we were all meant for a purpose.
Book Addict: If you had it to do over again, would you still pursue medicine as your “day job,” or would you go full force into writing?
Darden: One aspect of being an author, of which I was quick to realize, was that most of us writers have a “day job” and plan to hang on to it. Of course, there are the handful of celebrity authors (by celebrity, I mean the ones who seem to do nothing but write and whose books automatically appear in every airport gift shop or grocery store and get the movie deals and recurring spots on late night talk shows, etc.). Whether I ever join that elite group remains to be seen. Hopefully, the odds aren’t too insurmountable. But for me, being a busy physician, particularly one that still deliveries babies, is truly one of the most rewarding jobs a person can have, and I have certainly worked hard to get there.
Book Addict: Who are you reading?
Darden: P.D.James – The Lighthouse
Book Addict: When can we find your next title in book stores?
Darden: I hope to have a fourth novel in stores in 2010.
Book Addict: Where can we find you on the Web?
Darden: My website is www.dardennorth.com and was redesigned upon the release of Fresh Frozen in October 2008. One can also find me as a Featured Author on authorsden.com as well as on listings with Facebook, MySpace, CrimeSpace, Twitter, Author Book and Event Center, Authors ‘Round the South, and BookTour.com. I welcome reader and friend comments and can easily be contacted through my website http://www.dardennorth.com . My books can be found on .amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, atlasbooks.com as well as purchased through links to stores and online venues through my website.