Monday, March 25, 2013

Guest Post: Darin Kennedy



Welcome to the Pearls of Wisdom Blog Tour!
Our guest today is the very talented and brilliant Dr. Darin Kennedy author of Necromancer for Hire: The April Sullivan Chronicles and The Sicilian Defense and Other Dark Tales. Among other titles currently represented by Stacey Donaghy and yours truly.

Darin's Post: Write What You Love

Every writer at some point in their career receives a certain timeworn piece of advice: “Write what you know.”
As a family physician (general practitioner for those of you in the UK), I’ve been asked multiple times if I write about medicine, i.e. medical thrillers and the like. For some, this is a no-brainer.
When I was still just getting started, I met MichaelPalmer and Tess Gerritsen at the SEAK Writers Conference up in Cape Cod. This conference specializes in physicians who want to break into writing and publishing, and Michael and Tess are two doctors who did just that. Each of them took their medical training and combined it with superb writing skills and a bit of good fortune to become best-selling authors in the medical thriller genre. Most of the aspiring authors at the conference seemed eager to follow in the footsteps of these two greats.
Not me.
I showed up with my then 117,000-word fantasy novel, a query letter and a dream. A few agents present represented fantasy, but I suspect the majority came prepared to find the next Robin Cook, not the next Neil Gaiman. When I sat down and told many of these publishing professionals I had spent several months concocting a tale of magic, adventure, and chess, I received many strange looks and not much interest. Ultimately, SEAK wasn’t where I met my agent, but I learned a lot from those early conferences.
I first met Marisa Corvisiero at the Backspace Writers Conference in New York City. Of all the various formats where authors interact with agents, this is the one that worked the best for me. Two agents and twelve authors gather in a room over a couple of days where the agents dissect first your query and then your opening pages. This turned out to be some of the most honest and raw feedback I’ve ever received.
Afterwards, Marisa ran into me on the hall and told me she liked my writing and the idea of my story and invited me to submit. Fast forward to the present day, and here I am, a happy client of Corvisiero Literary Agency with two different novels out on submission. But that’s a story for another day.
Where am I going with this tale of queries and conferences?
While it may be good advice to write what you know, I think it is far more important to write what you love.
In one way or another, the story that is now Pawn’s Gambit (currently edited down to a lean 101K) has been kicking around in my head since I was a teenager. Through multiple iterations and incarnations, the characters and events of this story developed over a span of years as they wandered the dense mass of neurons between my ears until they finally sprung fully formed from my head like Athena from Zeus’s skull.
It took a yearlong deployment to Iraq and a desperate need to be anywhere but there to finally give me the impetus to put it to the page. When I finally decided to write, I wrote my favorite kind of story. The sort of tale I love to read. The kind of characters I love to spend time with. The twists and turns that make me flip the pages faster with every chapter. I’ve recently begun work on my third novel, and though every book is different, the magic is still there, and that’s what makes it all worth it.
So, if you’re an accountant who likes unicorns, a mechanic who likes zombies or, say, a family physician who likes mystical chess games, do yourself a favor: if you’re going to spend a year of your life writing a book, don’t write to the market and don’t limit yourself to what you know. Write what you love. It will show in your work and if it happens to fall across the desk of someone who loves what you love, who knows what might happen?

About Darin:

Born and raised in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Darin Kennedy still remembers watching Star Wars at the local drive-in when it came around the first time and it’s all been downhill from there. The fine team of agents at Corvisiero Literary Agency is working to find a home for his first two novels as he works on a third, a contemporary dark fantasy. Doctor by day and novelist by night, he lives and writes in Charlotte, North Carolina. 

Thanks so much to Darin for sharing his pearls of wisdom with us today. You can find him online at darinkennedy.com.

Happy writing my friends!
~Marisa