I'm thrilled to be hosting Lydia Kang on the blog today! In addition to being the author of five novels (with another on the way in 2018!), Lydia is also a practicing physician who has gained a reputation for helping other writers achieve medical accuracy in fiction. Her poetry and non-fiction have been published in JAMA, The Annals of Internal Medicine, Canadian Medical Association Journal, Journal of General Internal Medicine, and Great Weather for Media.
Her latest novel, the THE NOVEMBER GIRL, was released on Tuesday to many positive reviews, including this one from Maureen Goo (author of I BELIEVE IN A THING CALLED LOVE):
And now, here's my chat with Lydia!
Hi, Lydia! Welcome and congrats on The November Girl. Can you tell us a little about the story and what inspired it?
I’ve been obsessed with Lake Superior and this old song called The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, which told of a ship that sunk from a vicious November storm, called a witch. I knew someday I’d write a story that centered on the Lake and those storms, but the idea only came to me recently.
What made you choose Lake Superior as the setting for The November Girl?
It is such a gorgeous, ancient lake. It leaves jewels on its shores (lake agates) and consumes ships without so much as a shrug. It’s littered with wrecks all along its shallows. What’s not to love?
What part of the writing process do you find most challenging and how do you tackle it?
Probably the middle of the book. It’s right when all your passion for the book is conflicting with the doubt that you’ll really do the story justice. With every single book, this middle stage hurts!
As a practicing physician, I’d love it if you could talk a little about achieving medical accuracy in fiction. What are some of the most common mistakes you see?
Probably the most common mistake is not understanding the language. Practicing medicine and being in the healthcare environment entails a very specific culture, with its own language (called medical jargon—usually it’s not a good thing when talking jargon to a patient because it’s confusing and full of coded language). So reading a book, if the words are off, I know immediately if the passage wasn’t checked with a health care professional.
The November Girl is your fifth published book. What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned on the journey from draft to publication?
Oh my goodness. Well, probably that there are no sure things? Once you’re in the game, you understand it much better, but there are never, ever guarantees about selling your next book. Every time, you put yourself out there, and your art, and you pray that it’s good enough. No one is begging to buy your next book if you’re like most of us mortal authors!
What has been your most rewarding experience as an author so far?
When a reader reads your book and they get it. They just get it. That is an exquisite feeling!
What are you reading, or otherwise currently obsessed with?
I’ve been listening to the audiobook of Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert. She has some really nice reminders about living a creative life. I recommend it for beginners or people far into the publishing game. Lots of sound advice!
And finally, what’s one steadfast piece of advice you would give to other writers?
Read a lot. I didn’t get an MFA. I didn’t get a degree in college in creative writing. Much of what I learned, aside from writing blogs and books, was had through my favorite authors. They were my textbooks. And also—give yourself permission to write. You don’t need an MFA, or someone to say you’re good enough. Just do it. It took me almost 20 years after I graduated college before I gave myself the permission. Glad I did. Sorry, that’s not one piece of advice, is it? Ha.
I hope you enjoyed this interview as much as I did! Many thanks go out to Lydia for taking the time to share a bit about THE NOVEMBER GIRL, and her own writing journey. Be sure to add THE NOVEMBER GIRL your Goodreads list, or (better yet!) order your copy RIGHT NOW from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your local indie.
Follow Lydia on Twitter at @LydiaYKang. And for more information, check out her full author website at lydiakang.com.
And, as always,