Stethoscope to typewriter
ER doctor-turned-novelist returns home for book tour
BY KRISTINA ROSEN
Here’s the elevator pitch: are you up for a novel that “mixes the hospital drama of Grey’s Anatomy with the suburban hijinks of Big Little Lies?” Kentucky native and ER-doc-turned novelist, Kimmery Martin’s second novel The Antidote for Everything arrives in February.
Martin grew up in the mountains outside of Berea, where she credits her ability to write to both her parents and her literary upbringing.
“My father took me once a year to Joseph-Beth in Lexington, where I got to pick out all the books I wanted for my birthday. Entering that huge, beautiful store was like Disneyland.”
Martin has always been a fanatical reader. Her passion for writing took longer to develop. She confesses it wasn’t something she really tried growing up, outside “one ghastly, self-indulgent, whiny attempt at keeping a journal.”
Although her childhood was not spent honing her prose, she did spend many hours of her formative years in the libraries at Berea College and the University of Kentucky, where her mother obtained a master’s degree in children’s literature.
Her “love of reading segued into writing book reviews,” and she discovered her distinctive writing voice along the way. How would she describe that writing voice? “Irreverent,” she responds.
Martin signed on with her publisher to write her next three novels with female doctors as the protagonists, which means much of her own experience in the medical field informs her writing. Her inspiration is sparked by actual events, but her novels are purely fiction.
“There’s a lot of sheer invention going on too,” she acknowledges, adding “but I loved my career in the ER. It’s infinitely rewarding to be able to help a fellow human being when they’re ill or injured. Finding literary inspiration in that was a nice bonus.”
How she knew it was time to take the leap of faith from doctor to novelist, she says, “I really dig the concept of reinvention. My greatest regret is that I only have one life because there are so many things I’d like to try.”
She admits she didn’t quit her day job right away though, waiting until after the book sold to ease out of emergency medicine, acknowledging,
“if there’s any career field in which you are virtually guaranteed financial doom, it’s becoming a novelist.”
Now in the author-mother-wife phase of her life, Martin admits she’ll never not be a physician. “I’d like to think that any human life transcends labels, but there are more labels I’d like to add. I’m still a work in progress.”
As a sixth-generation Kentuckian, Martin now lives in Charlotte with her husband and three children, but makes frequent visits to Kentucky throughout the year. She still has a home outside of Berea and family in Frankfort.
Kimmery Martin will read and sign her new book in Lexington at The Carnegie Center on Tuesday, February 25 at 6:30 pm.
The Antidote for Everything comes out on February 18.
This article also appears on page 8 & 9 of the February 2020 print edition of Ace Weekly.
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