Darden North‘s mystery and thriller novels have been awarded nationally, most notably an IPPY in Southern Fiction for Points of Origin.  The Five Manners of Death also follows Wiggle RoomFresh Frozen, and House Call. Darden North has served on author panels at writing conferences including Killer Nashville, Murder on the Menu, SIBA Thriller Author Panel, and Murder in the Magic City. To book Darden for a book club, book signing, or presentation contact: Darden@DardenNorth.com. A board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist practicing at Jackson Healthcare for Women in Flowood, Mississippi, and a native of the Mississippi Delta, Darden North is Chairman of the Board of the Mississippi Public Broadcasting Foundation and a member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of the Mississippi Medical Association. A graduate of Ole Miss, he lives in Jackson with his wife Sally and enjoys family, travel, and, outdoor activities. The Norths have two adult children, who also work in the medical field.

Book description:   Family loyalty always trumps truth. Darden North’s The Five Manners of Death weaves its characters through the five ways to die—suicide, accident, natural causes, and undetermined—until a 50-year-old murder in Oxford, Mississippi, completes the list and threatens to destroy what’s left of a family.  Available in hardcover (282 pages) as well as in softcover and eBook, the thriller The Five Manners of Death is North’s fifth novel.

Do you have another job besides writing?

I practice full time as a board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist in a large single-specialty group. I deliver babies and perform robotic gyn surgery along with writing murder mysteries and medical thrillers. However, I keep the professions in their own boxes.

How would you describe your creative process while writing this book? Was it stream-of-consciousness writing, or did you first write an outline?  

A little bit of both processes created The Five Manners of Death. After my third novel was published, I made a pact with myself that moving forward I would work from an outline. I came close with fourth novel, Wiggle Room, but still let myself down. However, with this new book, I realized that an author’s outline can be nothing more than an expanded synopsis that initiates the process then grows from stream-of-consciousness.

Did your book require a lot of research?

I consulted the Centers for Disease Control to confirm the proper terminology and descriptions of the manners of death as utilized by medical examiners, and then had a lovely afternoon trip to the state medical examiner’s office to experience first-hand the morgue and the skeletal fragments storage room.

From the moment you conceived the idea for the story, to the published book, how long did it take? 

About three years. I went through two other titles (The Butter Club and When the Bee Stings) as the plot progressed and the characters wrote their own story.

Do you write non-stop until you have a first draft, or do you edit as you move along?

I want to meet that author who has the stamina to “write non-stop.” Even if I’m following a loose outline, I leave each writing session with a few ideas or plot goals recorded for the next time, so that I can pick up and go later. This practice comes in handy if I cannot return to the novel for a few days (and with my other career as a physician that happens). When I return to my laptop, I read the last few paragraphs and generally spend quite a bit of time editing … sometimes to the point I gain little new ground.  After each writing session, I download the updated work-in-progress to a thumb drive I keep with me.

Do you have any unusual writing quirks?

I chew a lot of bubble gum when I write, particularly when the creative juices are flowing, so to speak. I like the fruit-flavored, multicolored gumballs you purchase by the box of 850 from one of the warehouse stores. The box suggests that you sell each piece via a dispenser for 25 cents each.

Technically speaking, what do you have to struggle with the most when writing? How do you tackle it?

Chewing too much gum, and I’ve lost the battle! My left jaw really gets sore.

How was your experience in looking for a publisher? What words of advice would you offer those novice authors who are in search of one?

Do not be afraid to ask questions or show vulnerability.  A good publisher wants your book to be successful or there should have been no offer of a contract. If you have a different idea about promotion or for the cover design, it’s OK to speak up. If your experience with an agent and/or publisher turns sour, it is fine to look somewhere else the next time. Chances are your next book will be even better, and you’ll bring more to the table.

What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

Make every sentence push the plot along—whether it’s dialogue or even setting description.  “Less is more,” someone once said.

Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?

www.dardennorth.com . I also keep an updated author page on Facebook (Darden North, Author) and post on Instagram under: dardennorth.

As an author, what is your greatest reward?

For me, the prize is that sense of satisfaction found in the completion of a unique, entertaining story. I try to put all I have into it. The bonus is the kudo of a stranger that he or she enjoys your novels and looks forward to the next one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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