Author Archives: Darin Kennedy

About Darin Kennedy

Darin Kennedy

“Codex Veritatis”

Street Magick

Nov 2016 – Elder Signs Press

A group of three friends discover a book that cannot tell a lie,

and discover whether the truth really does set you free.

“Out of the Shadows”

We Are Not This

Oct 2016 – Falstaff Books

From an anthology in support of LGBTQ rights in NC,

a story of a transgender superhero defending

the life of the governor who put in place a law

at odds with the hero’s very existence.

Tunnels: A #HoldOnToTheLight Post


I’ve debated about what I planned to write for this post for weeks. And the irony? It’s been a bit of a rough summer and some of the things I want to talk about are the very things that have made it difficult to do so.

As my website says, I am a doctor by day and a novelist by night. My evening vocation is what qualifies me to be part of this collection of 100 writers who are reaching out to people who are going through tough times and showing them they are not alone, but as I write this, I will attempt to wear both my hats at once, as I’ve taken care of people having trouble and have been one of those people at different times in my life.

Many of the posts have been about major depression, anxiety, suicide, PTSD. I want to talk about grief and adjustment disorder. Both conditions mimic a lot of the signs and symptoms of major depression and, in fact, adjustment disorder is also known as exogenous, reactive, or situational depression. Both grief and adjustment disorder represent symptoms in relation to a particular stressor. In grief it’s often the loss of a family member or loved one, but we can also grieve relationships, jobs, and financial setbacks. Both of these are considered temporary and definitely related to the preceding stressor.

In my time, I’ve experienced both.

Just like with depression, people who are grieving or going through an adjustment reaction can experience very real, very debilitating symptoms: overwhelming sadness, loss of hope, anhedonia (loss of enjoyment of normal activities), crying spells, nervousness, anxiety, worry, desperation, difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep, poor concentration, reckless driving, putting off important tasks like bills or chores, avoiding family or friends, poor performance at school or work, and even suicidal ideation and beyond.

The diagnosis of major depressive disorder requires that these symptoms be present for several months without relenting. Does that mean the person who is grieving or the person experiencing adjustment reaction/disorder aren’t going through something very real or serious? Absolutely not.

As I wrote my first draft of this post, it was 1 a.m. on a Friday night, a night where I didn’t get to sleep till a little after 4:30 a.m. Sure, I’d had a bit too much caffeine in a 24-hour period, but that wasn’t the only issue. My brain just wouldn’t shut off. My thoughts that evening revolved around a pretty specific situation, but that doesn’t change the fact that despite being dead tired, my body just wouldn’t go to sleep. If that had been a one-night issue, it wouldn’t have been a big deal, but in a summer filled with heartbreak, identity theft X 3 (all resolved, thank God), and three surgical procedures in a row to get a particularly large kidney stone out of my left ureter (along with being put under anesthesia three times in a row for said procedures), there have been a lot of sleepless nights. Not to mention a ten pound weight loss, mostly because I haven’t felt much like eating. Also, a lot of anxiety, some focused and some not as much. Bouts of sadness, and yes, crying. Times where it seemed all hope was gone. I even got a bit behind on bills, mowing, cleaning the house, etc. which for anyone who knows me well would agree is a pretty big deal. My job as a family physician suffered, as patients require your energy, your positivity, even your love, but if you are using those things to heal yourself from a psychic wound, it’s difficult to spare any juice for anyone else. To be clear, through all of this, I never considered suicide, but I did develop a better understanding of people who just want to make the pain go away.

And while we’re talking about pain… I’ve had patients with depression, anxiety, etc. tell me about chest pain, headaches, stiff muscles, etc. For me, it’s a cold ache that starts in my shoulders and radiates down my deltoids and biceps and into my forearms. It’s a feeling of dread, of doom, and when anxiety or depressive whatever keeps me up at night, this is the tool it uses.

One of the biggest hits this summer was my writing. Over June and the first week of July, I wrote 26,000 words, an all time high for me. Basically one fourth of a book in just under 6 weeks. I was cooking with gas and was so proud.

The rest of July, August, and September? None. Nada. Zip. This thing that had brought me such joy for so many years had become another chore. Another thing I had to do. Another task I had to complete. And I just avoided it, like a lot of other things in my life, not because I wanted to, but because I simply didn’t have the energy to put into it.

And that sucked.

In the last few weeks, I’ve been doing a lot better. Sleeping through the night, eating well, feeling hopeful and even happy again, enjoying work, and basically getting back to being myself. Even wrote about 2,500 words in the last week. It’s been nice to feel good again. And I knew I would. This wasn’t my first bout with feeling low.

Med school knocked the wind out of my sails off and on for the better part of two years, but I got better. Being stuck in Iraq for 11 months left its mark on me, but I feel like I’ve recovered from that as well. And this summer’s heartbreak was not my first. I’m coming out of the tunnel, and it’s good to see the sun again.

And there it is. The tunnel analogy. So many times, when my patients have been going through a tough time or a dark period in their life, I’ve told them that they are simply going through a tunnel. Tunnels may be dark while you’re in them, but there was light before you went into the tunnel and there will be light when you are out again. All one has to do while in the tunnel is hang on and know that whatever is happening to you, be it internal, external, or both, the pain is temporary and will pass.

Funny. In a way, I’ve been telling people to hold onto the light for years, and didn’t even realize it until I wrote this paragraph tonight.

And now we get to the important part. First, and MOST IMPORTANT, the tunnel thing is NOT Darin telling you that when things get bad, just pick yourself up and brush yourself off. If you are going through anything like what I’m describing, and I don’t care if you call it depression, adjustment, grieving, the blues, a bad day, or whatever, get help. If you are hurting, tell someone. Tell a family member. Tell a friend. Tell your doctor. Talk to a counselor or a clergy person or anyone who will listen. Get the help you need.

I did.

I will leave you with three thoughts.

First, tunnels have beginnings, middles, and ends. Keep driving. Second, even if you are not okay at the moment, you will be. And third, you are not alone. If you need help, get help. If you need to talk, talk. If the person won’t listen, keep talking till you find someone who will.

About the Campaign
#HoldOnToTheLight is a blog campaign encompassing blog posts by fantasy and science fiction authors around the world in an effort to raise awareness around treatment for depression, suicide prevention, domestic violence intervention, PTSD initiatives, bullying prevention and other mental health-related issues. We believe fandom should be supportive, welcoming and inclusive, in the long tradition of fandom taking care of its own. We encourage readers and fans to seek the help they or their loved ones need without shame or embarrassment.
Please consider donating to or volunteering for organizations dedicated to treatment and prevention such as: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Hope for the Warriors (PTSD), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Canadian Mental Health Association, MIND (UK), SANE (UK), BeyondBlue (Australia), To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.
To find out more about #HoldOnToTheLight, find a list of participating authors and blog posts, or reach a media contact, go to and join us on Facebook

Pawn’s Gambit


Pawn’s Gambit

14 Oct 2016 – Falstaff Books






Until the sultry brunette in the little black dress

did her best to incinerate him.


Yesterday was just another day at the office for Steven.

Today, he is the White Pawn, a combatant in a nightmarish

game of chess where people are the pieces, and the world is at stake.

To survive the deadly Black Queen, Steven must

rush to gather the rest of his Pieces:


The Knight, a grieving teenage boy

caught up in a web of gang violence. 

The Queen, a young woman at death’s door,

her body ravaged by leukemia. 

The Bishop, a disgraced priest haunted by visions of the Game.

The Rook, a suicidal drunk reeling atop a storm-ridden skyscraper.


But Steven isn’t the only one looking for the remainder of the White,

as the Black Queen already has her Pieces assembled, and they are on the hunt…

Pawn’s Gambit Release Today!


Today is the official release date for Pawn’s Gambit from Falstaff Books, and I couldn’t be more excited!

As many of you know, this is the first novel I ever wrote, and though I’m a couple years into this whole publishing thing, this is the book I always imagined would be my first. Pawn’s Gambit is a story that’s been brewing inside me for the better part of thirty years and to see it finally available for the world to read is a dream come true. This marriage of contemporary fantasy, superheroes, and chess with just a sprinkle of romance brings together several of my worlds and I can’t wait for everyone to have a chance to read.

Thanks to John Hartness and Jay Requard at Falstaff for taking a chance on this book, to Roy Mauritsen for the gorgeous cover, to Sharon Pickrel and Melissa Gilbert for an awesome editing job, and to Susan Roddey for the beautiful interior layout.

Avengers + Magic + Chess = Pawn’s Gambit… Available now!!!

Come and get me...

“Circular Argument”

Dark Horizons

Nov 2016 – Elder Signs Press

Trapped alone on an outpost on a faraway planet,

a man faces a malfunctioning AI that in its effort

to save him is instead sentencing him to death.

The Mussorgsky Riddle Nominated for the 2016 Manly Wade Wellman Award


This Saturday, 16 Jul 2016, the announcement of the winner of the 2016 Manly Wade Wellman Award from the North Carolina Speculative Fiction Foundation will be made. I am among the nominees with The Mussorgsky Riddle as well as good friend Gail Z. Martin with THREE different books nominated: War of Shadows, Iron & Blood, & Vendetta; traveling buddy John Hartness for Raising Hell and the talented Ursula Vernon for Castle Hangnail. I am excited just to have been nominated among such awesome and experienced authors and can’t wait for Saturday night where we can all celebrate the winner! Here’s a link to the press release.

LibertyCon! This weekend in Chattanooga!


So this weekend in Chattanooga, I will be a part of LibertyCon, and couldn’t be more excited.

Looking forward to doing a few panels, a reading, some signings, and actually attending some of the panels as well in between.

Will be heading west with John Hartness and Gail Martin to spend the weekend with a host of awesome guests to include the Literary Guest of Honor, John Mayberry, as well as David B. Coe, Larry Correia, Rich Groller, Robby Hilliard, Chris Kennedy, Todd McCaffery, Bobby Nash, Gray Rinehart, Tedd Roberts,  and many more.


My schedule at LibertyCon is as follows:


Friday, 8 July – 3 pm – Autograph Session

Friday, 8 July – 5 pm – Opening Ceremonies

Friday, 8 July – 9 pm – Reading: Darin Kennedy & John Hartness

Saturday, 9 July – 10 am – Global Pandemics and Bio Security

Saturday, 9 July – 4-7 pm – Author’s Alley

Saturday, 9 July – 10 pm – Frontiers of Military Medicine

Saturday, 9 July – 11 pm – Mad Scientist Roundtable

Sunday, 10 July – 5 pm – Kaffeeklatsch



See you there! Darin


I just ran a 5K! (Well, sort of…)


A productive day, indeed. It’s taken the better part of ten hours, but I have pounded out 5,000 words today, pretty close to a personal record. I might even be able to keep most of them, but I won’t know for sure until I hit the editing phase.

How many pages is 5,000 words? Well, with the average being about 250-300 words per page in your average paper back, that’s 16 – 20 pages. If I could write like this every day, I could complete a book a month, but the contrary nature of my muse in concert with the demands of the actual job make that a bit of a pipe dream, at least at the moment.

Suffice to say that today was a very good day, the characters and story both definitely moved forward, and I feel like I am back in the saddle. Manuscript now sits at 54,453 words and climbing!

As a quick side note, today’s plot twist comes to you all by way of Micki Knop and her insightful comment from ConCarolinas regarding “PATW”. BTW, that particular piece is Prokofiev, not Tchaikovsky, but I’m totally using it anyway – I think that actually makes it work better in the long run, as a matter of fact. Thanks, Micki!

Back at it tomorrow!


ConCarolinas 2016 – This weekend in Concord!

ConCarolinas 2015 banner

So this weekend at the Embassy Suites Charlotte – Concord, I return for my second year as a guest at ConCarolinas!

Looking to be another awesome year with all sorts of fantastic literary guests, panels, cosplayers, and cool stuff to buy.

I will be available at my table most of the time, but Misty Massey, our unstoppable literary track organizer, and Carol Cowles, the incredible fan track organizer, have me on eleven panels where you can come find me pontificating about subjects as disparate as magical babies and medicine at the end of the world to my thoughts on the most recent episodes of Doctor Who (spoiler: they were awesome).

My schedule is as follows…

Friday, 3 June – 5 pm – Mystic Pregnancies and Magic Babies

Friday, 3 June – 6 pm – New Who Review!

Friday, 3 June – 10 pm – Writers and Mental Illness

Saturday, 4 June – 10 am – DC on the Small Screen: The Flash, Arrow, Supergirl, and Beyond

Saturday, 4 June – 11 am – Medicine After the End of the World (Moderator)

Saturday, 4 June – 1 pm – Medicine and the Alternative

Saturday, 4 June – 3 pm – The Trouble with Trilogies

Saturday, 4 June – 9:30 pm – The Walking Dead: Season in Review

Sunday, 5 June – 10 am – Using Real People, Places, and History in Your Fiction

Sunday, 5 June – 1 pm – How Deep is Your Subgenre

Sunday, 5 June – 2 pm – The End of It

This weekend promises to be a fun time with awesome people! Hope to see you there!