Kimmery Martin is an emergency medicine doctor-turned novelist whose works of medical fiction have been praised by The Harvard Crimson, Southern Living, The Charlotte Observer, and The New York Times, among others.
Here is what Kimmery had to say when we asked her about her career journey and what she has learned along the way:
Can you briefly discuss your transition from physician to author?
I’m an emergency medicine physician but I’ve also always been an obsessive reader. A few years ago, I decided to try my hand at writing a novel and realized almost immediately that I was also going to be an obsessive writer. I loved it. I started hoarding my free time to write and although it was a long, humbling road to publication, it completely changed my life. Now I write almost full-time.
What was the inspiration behind The Antidote for Everything?
The Antidote for Everything is my second novel and it tells the story of what goes spectacularly wrong in the deep friendship between two doctors—a urologist named Georgia and a family medicine physician named Jonah—when one of them is unjustly fired. It was loosely inspired by the real-life circumstances of a colleague who was instructed not to treat transgender patients.
What is the most valuable lesson you have learned from being a physician?
It’s granted me the immense blessing of seeing life in all its anguish and its glory. As a doctor, you treat people in the best and worst moments of their lives and that affords you a privileged window into the human experience. There’s no brief way to sum up the gratitude and admiration I have toward my patients.
How can one improve her writing?
First and foremost: read. But read analytically. Pay attention to what you love about a given author’s style, how the story is structured, and what elements in the fiction grab your attention. We are all innate storytellers and we all have a unique voice. Good writing does require mastering the mechanics but it is also a process of honing your own individual voice.
What is your favorite part about being an author?
No question: meeting readers, whether that is in-person or on Instagram or through my website. My horizons have broadened exponentially as a result of publishing my novels; I now have friends on all seven continents. Writing provides you this extraordinary platform for making connections.
What are the key elements to being a good storyteller?
All really good fiction contains tension. It’s paradoxical because in real life, people tend not to like the sensation of being on edge. But in a story, no matter the genre, you’re obligated to put the reader through some degree of hell. You want them turning the page to find out whether or not the heroine will prevail. It would be a boring story if nothing went wrong.
How do you maintain balance in your life?
I have a structured, ten-point plan for each day, with timelines and ranked goals and little check boxes. Just kidding. I thrive on chaos.
What steps should one take to build her professional and personal community?
I think the key in building a community is authentic engagement. Don’t set a goal of collecting followers; instead, think of how you can forge a genuine relationship. Ask questions, make meaningful comments on other people’s circumstances, provide someone else with a leg up. Listen to what others are saying. Women tend to be inherently good at this and it helps us in the long run. You don’t have to neglect your own priorities to build up a circle of committed people.
What is one piece of advice you would give to your younger self?
My younger self would probably disregard advice from my older self, but here goes: embrace your inner nerd. One day it will spark not one but two careers.
Kimmery Martin is an emergency medicine doctor-turned novelist whose works of medical fiction have been praised by The Harvard Crimson, Southern Living, The Charlotte Observer, and The New York Times, among others. A lifelong literary nerd, she promotes reading, interviews authors, and teaches writing seminars, speaking frequently at libraries, conferences, and bookstores around the United States. Kimmery completed her medical training at the University of Louisville School of Medicine and the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. She lives with her husband and three children in Charlotte, North Carolina, and has been at work for over a year on a novel about a group of female doctors during a worldwide viral pandemic. Her current novel, The Antidote for Everything, is out now!