Darden North’s mystery and thriller novels have been awarded nationally, most notably an IPPY in Southern Fiction for Points of Origin. His newest thriller, The Five Manners of Death, also follows Wiggle Room, Fresh 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, 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. 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. Author website:
Mayra Calvani: Please tell us about The Five Manners of Death, and what compelled you to write it.
Darden North: I was intrigued about a medical examiner’s classification of the five manners of death and how those classifications can become blurred. That’s what we fiction authors do … blur the truth, take things to the extreme and make life more interesting. What would a surgeon think if bodies began to collect around her to satisfy the five manners of death?
M.C.: What is your book about?
D.N: In The Five Manners of Death, there are five ways to die. Surgeon Diana Bratton believes that homicide is the only way left … then the police prove her wrong. Diana learns that murder is her family secret.
M.C.: What themes do you explore in The Five Manners of Death?
D.N.: Family loyalty trumps truth every time. The thriller weaves characters through the five manners of death: suicide, accident, natural causes, and undetermined until it’s clear that homicide—that a 50-year-old murder—threatens to destroy a family.
M.C.: Why do you write?
D.N.: This may sound a little deviant, but there is real satisfaction in twisting the lives of my characters and throwing them into all kinds of trouble. I enjoy interjecting the element of shock into my murder mysteries and thrillers, surprising readers with what characters say or where they wind up. I feel a calling to write novels that portray the contemporary South for what it truly is … progressive and beautiful.
M.C.: When do you feel the most creative?
D.N.: Sometimes my creativity surprises me. It may spring out of a causal conversation with a friend, or even a stranger. I don’t have the luxury to write on a certain time schedule.
M.C.: How picky are you with language?
D.N: I try to avoid repetitive expressions as well as prevent the overuse of certain words. That can be a challenge for any author.
M.C.: When you write, do you sometimes feel as though you were being manipulated from afar?
D.N.: Gosh, how easy would that make this thing?
M.C.: What is your worst time as a writer?
D.N.: When the manuscript is finished (and you want the novel to be really, really finished) and it’s time for the revisions.
M.C.: Your best?
D.N.: When the book is released, and I get feedback from readers. Sometimes they see more in a character or a situation than I intended, and that is fun.
M.C.: Is there anything that would stop you from writing?
D.N: No, each novel is an opportunity to push further, to do something different.
M.C.: What’s the happiest moment you’ve lived as an author?
D.N.: My answer is totally expected: seeing my first novel House Call in hardcover print, including the slick, metallic color book jacket. There’s never been a more beautiful book.
M.C.: Is writing an obsession to you?
D.N.: An obsession means that you push everything else aside, let everything else fail or fall. That’s not me.
M.C.: Are the stories you create connected with you in some way?
D.N.: Readers want to think that, so it’s best to let them keep guessing.
M.C.: Ray Bradbury once said, “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” Do you agree?
D.N.: I do my best writing sober.
M.C.: Do you have a website or blog where readers can find out more about you and your work?