Opium & Absinthe (July 2020) | A Beautiful Poison | The Impossible Girl | Toxic | The November Girl | Quackery | Control | Catalyst
Tell us about your latest book.
My latest book is coming out July 2020, entitled OPIUM AND ABSINTHE. Here's a bit about it:
New York City, 1899. Tillie Pembroke’s sister lies dead, her body drained of blood and with two puncture wounds on her neck. Bram Stoker’s new novel, Dracula, has just been published, and Tillie’s imagination leaps to the impossible: the murderer is a vampire. But it can’t be—can it?
A ravenous reader and researcher, Tillie has something of an addiction to truth, and she won’t rest until she unravels the mystery of her sister’s death. Unfortunately, Tillie’s addicted to more than just truth; to ease the pain from a recent injury, she’s taking more and more laudanum…and some in her immediate circle are happy to keep her well supplied.
Tillie can’t bring herself to believe vampires exist. But with the hysteria surrounding her sister’s death, the continued vampiric slayings, and the opium swirling through her body, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for a girl who relies on facts and figures to know what’s real—or whether she can trust those closest to her.
What's your writing process?
Usually, it starts with a few ideas that jumble together. For example, in OPIUM AND ABSINTHE, I did a lot of research on opium and morphine for my book, QUACKERY: A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE WORST WAYS TO CURE EVERYTHING, which is a nonfiction book written with Nate Pedersen. I learned that morphine addicts in the 1800s were usually wealthy women, because the syringe kits were expensive, and women were often improperly treated for a nonexistent disease called "hysteria" amongst other things. I coupled that with the fact that in 1899, the newsies strike happened, and Bram Stoker's DRACULA was released in the US.
After that, I put together an outline and synopsis, did a fair amount of research, and started writing page one.
Are there themes you like to explore in your books?
Usually. In A BEAUTIFUL POISON, the main character's love of chemistry shows up throughout the book. Class struggles and suppression of feminist ideas often show up. I am a physician and a science lover, so many of my books have themes involving doctors, forensics, chemistry, pharmacology, herbology, and poisons.
Do you listen to music while you write?
I do! I usually make a YouTube playlist for every book. They often share similar songs, and I'm afraid to share a playlist because I think my music choices are probably uncool and will embarrass my kids, haha.
What's your favorite genre to read?
Several. I love nonfiction, particularly historical in nature. I also like contemporary novels and some thrillers. I also love YA as well, since I write it. But I'm so behind with all my reading!
What are you reading right now?
Right now, I'm reading an advanced copy of A GOOD FAMILY, by A.H.Kim. We actually know each other via her sister, and we've chatted about writing a bit. I finally got to meet her recently, and so far her book is awesome!
What's the next project and when can we expect it?
The next project after OPIUM AND ABSINTHE is probably a nonfiction follow up to QUACKERY, but it's too early to say anything definitive right now. I'm also working on another adult historical suspense novel that takes place in World War 2, but also too early to say when, or what it's called. Stay tuned!
Lydia Kang is an author of young adult fiction, adult fiction and non-fiction, and poetry. She graduated from Columbia University and New York University School of Medicine, completing her residency and chief residency at Bellevue Hospital in New York City. She is a practicing physician who has gained a reputation for helping fellow 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. She believes in science and knocking on wood, and currently lives in Omaha with her husband and three children.