Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Darin Kennedy -- Mixing Magical Realism and Classical Music

I met quite a few interesting and fascinating new (to me anyway) writers while at Connooga this year. For a few weeks, I'm going to introduce them to you. Let's continue what we started last week with an author influenced by several of my favorite classical music compositions—Darin Kennedy.

Tell us a bit about your latest work.

My debut novel, The Mussorgsky Riddle, is a paranormal thriller about at thirteen-year-old boy lost inside his own mind and the psychic that’s got to go in there and find him. Based two classical music pieces, "Pictures at an Exhibition" and "Scheherazade"—by Modest Mussorgsky and Nikolai-Rimsky Korsakoff respectively—this story lies at the intersection of music, mystery, magic, and murder. The second book is at the publisher now and continues the story of Mira and Anthony into the works of Stravinsky. My current work in progress is the third and likely final book of this trilogy/series, and is a lot of the big Tchaikovsky pieces. Without giving too much detail, just know I’ve watched "Swan Lake" and "The Nutcracker" more times in the last two months than is healthy...

What are the themes and subjects you tend to revisit in your work?

As you can see from above, music tends to show up in my work quite a bit. Even in my YA novel that my agent is still shopping around, music tends to be a major element. Otherwise, most of my stuff tends to be set in a real world setting, but with an fantastic element. A bit more fantastic that magical realism, but also not quite all the way into full urban fantasy. Except my first book - that one is all magic all the time!

What would be your dream project?

I’m writing it right now, both figuratively and literally. The stories about Mira and Anthony have really opened up a whole new world to me. My other two novels were my dream project at the time as well. I suppose it’s fair to say that once I commit to a project, I’m in it till the bitter end.

If you have any former project to do over to make it better, which one would it be, and what would you do?

It’s funny you ask. I just put my very first novel length project through an extensive re-edit and am starting the process of getting it out there again. It’s currently in a very interesting place and I wait with bated breath to hear what the fine individuals on the other end of that email have to say.

Truth be told, that particular project is in third person past tense, and the four novels I’ve worked on since are all in first person present tense, where I think my voice is quite a bit stronger. I briefly considered rewriting the whole thing in first present, but with all the varied viewpoints, I’m not sure it would work, not to mention that the amount of work and time it would take to retrofit that project could likely produce a new novel, and I’d rather move forward. One of my favorite quotes from my time in the army comes to mind: Better is the enemy of good. So, it stays like it is… unless/until I change my mind.
 
What inspires you to write?

I write about things that I love. Music, art, reworkings of favorite tales. The Mussorgsky and Stravinsky projects were both born from reading the back of a CD case. My first novel came about when you mix (A) a story stuck in your head for about fifteen years and (B) being stuck in Iraq for a year. My YA project was literally what I was dreaming about when I woke up that morning. Inspiration comes from lots of different places. The perspiration? All me...

What writers have influenced your style and technique?

I like to think that and astute reader can find a bit of Stephen King in my characters, Neil Gaiman in my stories, and Piers Anthony—especially the Incarnations of Immortality series--in the weird connections my brain makes. I name my characters like Nathaniel Hawthorne, try to end my chapters like Thomas Hardy,  and hope to have even an iota of lyricality of Neil Peart. When it’s all said and done and the book is done, I then try to sell books like John Hartness.

Where would you rank writing on the "Is it an art or it is a science continuum?" Why?

For me, it’s more art than science. I don’t outline much, and instead just let the story flow and sit back amazed at the connections the three pounds of tofu between my ears comes up with.

Any other upcoming projects you would like to plug?

Just a few things.

Feel free to check out my website at darinkennedy.com where you can sign up for my newsletter if you’d like notification when I have developments on any of the above.

Come find me on Facebook and Twitter and Goodreads. I’m pretty easy to locate.

Lastly, The Mussorgsky Riddle was actually made into an audiobook and is available on Audible. If you’d like a sample of that book with a pretty kick-ass narrator who does ALL the accents, check this link:  http://amzn.to/1Tf3ISn