If you end up in an ER in Atlanta, there's a good chance Kong will be your doctor. He works night shifts at Piedmont and Northside hospitals, treating everything from broken bones to heart attacks. But under that white coat is a man with another title: Father of American LitRPG. That’s not a typo. LitRPG stands for “literature role-playing game,” a literary genre still crawling out of infancy that combines science fiction, fantasy and online role-playing games. (For those who’ve never heard of Warcraft and Elder Scrolls, think Game of Thrones, if it were a video game.) Kong published his first LitRPG book, The Land: Founding, in November 2015, and since then he’s written five more novels, sold close to 100,000 e-books and joined the ranks of the top 100 sci-fi fantasy authors on Amazon.
Kong’s books follow a black protagonist named Richter (named for the earthquake scale) who’s drawn into a fantasy world called the Land. Using his medical expertise, Kong imagines fight scenes that are accurate down to the last severed artery. He also incorporates larger issues, such as slavery and homosexuality. “My books are never just about a cool story. I have to touch on issues I think are important, which revolve around inclusion and acceptance,” he says. “I always thought the real power of sci-fi isn’t to watch more zombies, but to make these fantastic situations so you can really examine the human condition.” Kong earned his M.D. at Morehouse, then spent five years at Grady Memorial Hospital before landing at Piedmont and Northside. His hard-driving schedule has taught him to find free moments for creativity. “I learned in med school there are a bajillion wasted moments a day, so I will be talking to friends and an idea will hit me, and I’ll pull out my phone and take notes,” he says. “Or if I wake up in the middle of the night, I start writing. It adds up.”