As I wrote in the intro for his The Hardest Part essay: “Charlotte “doctor by day, novelist by night” Darin Kennedy‘s debut novel, The Mussorgsky Riddle, is squarely right up my alley. “The Great Gate of Kiev” (part of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition) is one of my favorite pieces of Russian symphony, and Kennedy turns the mythopoeity up to “11” combining music, paranormal mystery, and classical mythology in a heady, panpsychic mix. All set in Charlotte — and the infinite mindscapes therein.” In that essay, he wrote about the hard part of discovering the first person present tense voice of psychic Mira Tejedor, as she struggles to unravel the riddle of 13-year-old Anthony Faircloth’s catatonia, as well as the difficulty and payoff of writing first person from the POV of the opposite gender in and of itself, and of making the various pieces of Pictures at an Exhibition and Scheherazade fit together. Here, Kennedy took the time via email to answer a few brief questions ahead of his upcoming appearances in the Carolinas, at Flyleaf Books (this Sunday, June 7, at 2 pm) [Facebook], at Scuppernong Books in Greensboro on the 11th (Thursday), and Joe’s Place in Greenville, SC on the 20th (Saturday). Enjoy!
Q: The phrase “paranormal thriller” isn’t all that common. Are there some more well-known cultural referents that can help shorthand things, like maybe the J-Lo film The Cell, or is that the wrong direction?
Let’s see… Paranormal Thriller vs. Paranormal Mystery seems to be where Mussorgsky lies. The main character is Mira Tejedor, a psychic who explores a comatose boy’s mind for the answers to both his catatonic state and a missing persons case in the real world. Between her psychic abilities and the dreamscapes she walks to find her answers, I think these are the best descriptors. It’s funny you mention The Cell, as there are some similarities there. I actually hadn’t seen that movie until after I finished The Mussorgsky Riddle, but I think that writer and I definitely touched on some similar themes, albeit coming at them from very different directions.
Q: Do you believe in any psychic phenomena yourself?
I would say I’m an interested skeptic. I think a lot of the “psychics” out there are just very skilled readers of people, but could there be actual senses beyond the five we use on a day to day basis? Sure.
Q: What can you tell me about your as-yet-unpublished novel, that you wrote while serving in Iraq?
As for the unpublished work from my time in Iraq, that is the first novel in my The Pawn Stratagem trilogy, Pawn’s Gambit. A contemporary fantasy adventure where the characters, both good and evil, are based on the six pieces of the chess board, it’s a story I’ve been wanting to tell since I was a teenager and used to play chess with my dad as well as some friends from school. In the first book, my main character is Steven Bauer, who discovers he is quite literally the Pawn in an ancient game of chess that will decide the fate of millions. His charge from an ancient wizard name Grey is to gather the other Pieces-Knight, Queen, Bishop, Rook, and King, and prepare for the coming battle. This time, however, the battle begins early as the Black is already gathered and empowered and seek to assassinate the White before they can learn their true place in this ancient Game of Kings. I have decided to publish Pawn’s Gambit through a friend’s imprint and am in the process of arranging editing and cover art and all those other wonderful steps that go into creating a quality book.
Q: Is that what we should expect to see next from you, or are you working on something else?
What I’m working on now, in fact, is the sequel to The Mussorgsky Riddle. Just crossed the 49K mark tonight which means the first draft is about half done. Another two-three months and I hope to be digging into editing and revisions and hope to have that book out by this time next year, hopefully through Curiosity Quills, the publisher of The Mussorgsky Riddle.
Q: You’re involved with the Charlotte sf scene, including ConCarolinas. Have you made it to illogiCon or ConGregate yet, or some of the other regional conventions like MystiCon or RavenCon?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Darin Kennedy, born and raised in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, is a graduate of Wake Forest University and Bowman Gray School of Medicine. After completing family medicine residency in the mountains of Virginia, he served eight years as a United States Army physician and wrote his first (as yet unpublished) novel in 2003 in the sands of northern Iraq.
His debut novel, The Mussorgsky Riddle, was born from a fusion of two of his lifelong loves: classical music and world mythology. His short stories can be found in various publications and he is currently hard at work on his next novel.
Doctor by day and novelist by night, he writes and practices medicine in Charlotte, North Carolina. When not engaged in either of the above activities, he has been known to strum the guitar, enjoy a bite of sushi, and rumor has it he even sleeps on occasion. Find him online as well as links to his books and social media at darinkennedy.com.