Welcome to the seven hundred and fifth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with novelist Katalin Kennedy. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And see below for Katalin’s book giveaway.
Morgen: Hello, Katalin. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Katalin: Thank you so much, Morgen, for giving me the opportunity to discuss my second novel “Reconnecting” which was recently released by Baico Publishing, Ottawa, Canada in June 2015. I was born in Hungary and came to Canada as a child with my parents as refugees, following the Hungarian uprising in 1956. I spent most of my life in Ottawa, and worked in the Canadian Federal Government; after retirement, my husband and I moved to Cornwall – Ontario, not England. 🙂 As I considered how to reinvent myself in this new role, I realized I had always written. Writing gave me intense fulfilment. I was invited to write a column for a community newspaper “Seaway News” and I also began my first novel “The Women Gather” which was published in 2012.
Morgen: You’re very welcome, Katalin. What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Katalin: My two published books are both fiction. I’m not sure where other work will lead me. I consider “The Women Gather” to be a Utopian fiction, rather than science fiction or fantasy. And “Reconnecting” I choose to call plausible fiction.
Katalin: I appreciate the feasibility of going the self-publishing route. I am grateful, however, that I was able to find Baico Publishing in Ottawa who published both my novels. President Raymond Coderre and Vice-President Stephanie Bertrand have been most supportive. They give new authors encouragement by having their work published.
Morgen: Are your books available as eBooks? How involved were you in that process? Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
Katalin: I realize that eBook publishing is the current and future way of the publishing scene. I am an English Literature major and am still lingering in the desire to have my novels available in hard copy. I know the time is coming when I will need to explore the eBook method. I have to admit, I am nervous about copyright infringement and hacking possibility concerning this approach.
Morgen: Do you have a favourite of your books or characters? If any of your books were made into films, who would you have as the leading actor/s?
Katalin: Both my books are close to my heart, though quite different from each other. As for the characters, they are after all the off-spring of my inner self but with traits unique to them. I am rather fond of Lin Yao and Aideen in “The Women Gather” and Iris in “Reconnecting”.
Morgen: If your books were audiobooked, whom would you have as the narrator(s)?
Katalin: My mother has macular degeneration and I have therefore recorded both my novels on a digital machine, at her request. If I were given the privilege of having someone record professionally, I tend to think Emma Thompson would be super for “The Women Gather” and Meryl Streep for “Reconnecting”. Now isn’t that a lofty dream?
Morgen: Dreams can come true. Emma Thompson’s brilliant, as is Meryl Streep, but my favourite film is ‘Stranger than Fiction’ and Emma is one of a great cast. Which authors did you read when you were younger and did they shape you as a writer?
Katalin: I studied Canadian Literature at university and was mesmerized by the late Dorothy Livesay’s poetry as well as Margaret Atwood’s novels. Both these women have written throughout their lives, shifting their approaches as they matured both in age and
in their confidence, ideas and perspectives. I don’t know that either ‘shaped’ my writing; rather, I think they inspired me to stretch my thinking and accept a certain amount of self-belief that what I had to say was valid.
Morgen: Did you choose the titles / covers of your books?
Katalin: “The Women Gather” title is all mine and came to me immediately. “Reconnecting” I credit to my philosophy professor Bernard Carrière, at Encore Education, St. Lawrence College. As for the covers, they were both created by a most talented local artist Tracy-Lynn Chisholm. For “The Women Gather” Tracy read the manuscript and came up with that spectacular design. For “Reconnecting” I specified the design. Both covers reflect aspects of each novel’s content.
Morgen: You were fortunate to have such input into the externals of your books. What are you working on at the moment / next?
Katalin: I am at the research and idea cobbling phase of Book 3. But I am also compiling my past writings into one book. It will include personal stories of some childhood memories in Hungary, poetry as well as the articles I wrote as a columnist over ten years for Seaway News.
Morgen: ‘idea cobbling’, I like it. Do you manage to write every day, or ever suffer from writer’s block?
Katalin: The discipline of writing daily continues to be a challenge. Marlie, the main character in “Reconnecting” is a writer; she talks about the dreaded writer’s block. I did experience this during the period I was attempting to find my ‘passion’, after retirement. Writer’s block is inevitable, I think, but for now I’m alright.
Morgen: Some writers say it doesn’t exist but it does, usually partway through the writing process. There are just those who get it less often than others. Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Katalin: The idea comes to me, generally while I’m in the midst of current work. (I expect this is a good thing, as it means I have more to say later.) But once I am actually creating the new story line, I’m extremely methodical. Again, Marlie articulates her approach in “Reconnecting”. I am not quite as obsessive. Yet, like her, pre-setting the storyline chapter-by-chapter is a must.
Morgen: Very organised. (I’m more of a pantser) Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Katalin: I identify the characters and research appropriate names for them (based on the meanings of names) as well as give them specific traits. As the story evolves, so must they. I need to do all this because I have experienced, as well as have most writers, that at some point the characters come to life; they take on their own entity. This is what I call the ‘magic’ and ‘reward’ of creativity. Because I have the story line pre-set, I don’t let them run too far afield.
Morgen: 🙂 Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Katalin: I am a brief writer which likely comes from my years at government writing. I generally need to ‘beef up’ my narrative rather than take away from it.
Morgen: Do you have to do much research?
Katalin: Absolutely! I carry this out before, during and even after I’m finished the first draft. Through technology, we have the world of knowledge at our fingertips. More than ever, it is critical to conduct research.
Morgen: What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person? Have you ever tried second person?
Katalin: An interesting question: I had to look up the term ‘second person’. I am most comfortable with the third person. In my earlier writings, I found some articles in the first person. And surprisingly enough, I have also written bits in the second person expressing didactic type of ideas. I’ll have to explore that further.
Morgen: It tends to only suit short passages / stories. Do you write any poetry, non-fiction or short stories?
Katalin: I have written poetry. In fact, “Reconnecting” contains a few poems. I used to write short stories and articles. I no longer find either to be as satisfying as more in-depth and more developed writing – but one never knows. Non-fiction I find to be overly challenging from the standpoint of critical research requirement and also my niggling concern: “Hasn’t everything been written already?”
Morgen: I’m the opposite; although I’ve written nine novels (in various stages), short stories are my first love. Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Katalin: Definitely. I belong to a monthly ‘writers group’ whereby we produce a piece based on a particular theme. I have on occasion used that as an opportunity to vent out personal matters that I will never, ever commit to public print.
Morgen: Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Katalin: My first novel “The Women Gather” was out for review for over a year and after three reads it was rejected. This was a devastating experience. Fortunately, the editor gave me the review comments and after a lengthy period, I incorporated some of the points that were raised. One reviewer had liked the work, which gave me sufficient confidence not to give up. The final outcome: Baico Publishing liked the novel.
Morgen: Peer accreditation is a great motivation. Do you do much marketing for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Katalin: Not enough, I suppose. Even with a publisher these days one must self market. I don’t have the personality for ‘blowing my own horn’. I write because my being compels me to do so. I feel I have something to say. I want to be heard. Both my novels are available at:
“Chapters”: https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/contributor/author/katalin-kennedy and at “Baico Publishing”: http://www.baico.ca/index.php/baicobookstore. But I’ve had to come to the realization that in addition, I have to promote my own work. I have therefore again taken the step to hire a web book marketing team, to assist me in promotion: http://www.bookmarketingservices.org. Hopefully, with blogs such as yours which promote authors, readers will consider purchasing my novels.
Morgen: All authors have to market themselves. What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life? Has anything surprised you?
Katalin: Being in the midst of writing a new novel, as it takes over my every waking thought and even dreams is such a rush. I am constantly surprised how the work draws me into the pages. The story line, the characters become so real that I am among them. That is the supreme high! Sounds a little mad, I suppose?
Morgen: What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Katalin: Year ago I said to a friend, “What is the point of writing, it’s all been said?”
Her reply was simply: “But YOU haven’t said it”. That was the best advice to which I constantly refer myself and others.
Morgen: When I teach my students giving them the same prompt, it’s amazing how they all come up with different stories. There will always be something new to write about. If you could invite three people from any era to dinner, who would you choose and what would you cook (or hide the takeaway containers)?
Katalin: Read my novel “Reconnecting”. These are the women whom I would invite: Marlie, Kendra, Vanessa and Iris. And they often sit at delightful meals to share their lives about: love stories, coping with loss, the meaning of real friendship and family, the exploration into the Divine, the importance of dreams and the powerfulness of reconnecting.
Morgen: Are you involved in anything else writing-related other than actual writing or marketing of your writing?
Katalin: I belong to a monthly book club through the Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW) and the Cornwall and Regional Writers’ Society. By hearing about how others think and learning about their various styles of writing, I have come to a sense of acceptance that my work is alright.
Morgen: What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Katalin: More people are writing now than ever before. Blogs and eBook opportunities are making writing more accessible than in the past of the hard copy. I do think, however, that publishing houses are dwindling away and the day of hard copy books are numbered. Whereas I’m not a promoter of a Dystopian future (that was why I wrote “The Women Gather” from a Utopian perspective) I cannot help but fear Ray Bradbury’s book “Fahrenheit 451”: firemen burning books. These days, technology seems to be doing the same thing. Yet, I am hopeful that the written word, in whatever format, will survive. Our stories are worthy and what we say as writers may have some impact on future generations.
Morgen: Where can we find out about you and your writing?
Katalin: Please find my website: http://katalinkennedy.com
Morgen: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Katalin: I found your questions most thought provoking. Thank you again for giving me the opportunity to ‘chat’ with you and your readers. All the best.
Morgen: Oh, you’re very welcome. It’s been a pleasure getting to know you.
About Katalin Kennedy:
Katalin (András) Kennedy escaped from Hungary with her parents on Christmas Eve 1956. She married Duncan Scott Kennedy in 1972 and graduated from Ottawa’s Carleton University. In the latter part of her career, she managed major national projects with Health Canada’s Family Violence Prevention Programs, until her retirement. Her beloved soul mate, the Rev. D. S. Kennedy passed away in 2006. She now resides in Cornwall, Ontario and continues her involvement in various organizations: Canadian Federation of University Women, Probus Club of Cornwall and Area, Encore Seniors’ Education Program and the Cornwall and Regional Writers’ Society. For ten years she was a columnist for Seaway News. In 2012, Kennedy launched her first novel “The Women Gather” and in June 2015 “Reconnecting” was also released by Baico Publishing.
Reconnecting is an essential novel for our times. Katalin Kennedy expertly weaves a captivating story about how the bonds that women experience guide their choices — and ultimately destiny — through relationships that can be as messy and wondrous as life itself. As we get to know Marlie and her enquiring mind, her pondering of crucial issues and ensuing flashes of insight reveal how love and friendship, with a good dose of providence, can guide our lives and lead to wisdom. This book is as heart-warming and comforting as a good feast for the soul. We are left wanting to share more time with Marlie and her distinctive friends.
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EmesesDreamProduction
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/emesesdreamprod
Katalin’s books are available from:
- Chapters Indigo: https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/reconnecting/9781772160307-item.html?ikwid=Katalin+Kennedy&ikwsec=Home&ikwidx=0 or short link: http://bit.ly/1FX8ccp
- Baico Publishing Inc: http://www.baico.ca/index.php/baicobookstore?route=product/product&product_id=290 or short link: http://bit.ly/1FTtl7x
- Author: Katalin Kennedy: http://katalinkennedy.com/ email: email@example.com
- First prize: $25 Amazon gift certificate and autographed copy of Reconnecting
- Second and third prize: Autographed Copy of Reconnecting
Giveaway details http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/cfd1de2824.
Years before, the four friends had made a pact: “When we get to be older women, we’ll find a place to live together.” When Marlie finally decided to move back to Ottawa in 2012, it wasn’t because she was encouraged by Kendra to join her, Vanessa and Iris to live at the Condo Complex; but rather, it was because she felt a calling to return.
What Marlie hadn’t counted on were the endless entanglements their reconnecting would entail. They were each experiencing a period in their lives, when they were inadvertently searching to rediscover who they were, what their purpose was and where the future would direct them.
Their stories unravel and intertwine during shared dinner gatherings when each confides a little more about her fears, her hopes, her loves, her beliefs, her family and her secrets. As time goes on, their sagas gradually unveil connections through their parents, about World War II, which none of them had expected.
And overarching it all, Marlie’s dreams and waking hours mingle with mystical messages which she sacredly guards but which she whole heartedly accepts to be from Owen, her late husband.
Excerpts from “Reconnecting” (ISBN 978-1-77216-303-7)
Page 30: Marlie lay in bed. She couldn’t sleep. It wasn’t because of the raspberry infused Champagne Glenda served during Iris’ piano recital. Nor was it because of the evening’s theological discussion. Marlie realized the churning reflections keeping her awake were about the entanglements that reconnecting represented. She had not been in relationships in a long time. Owen and she relished being in their own world, particularly since they had moved away from the city. They had all but isolated themselves from others, by choice. Although they did attend community and cultural functions, they didn’t encourage other more intimate social interaction. They read, they talked to each other, they created their own worlds through their writing but they did not get involved in the lives of people around them. Brother Griff and his wife Patricia came and went and of course their daughter Mandy was never far away. Others, however, were held at a distance. Inasmuch as she had maintained email contact with her city friends, these were not what she had regarded as deep relationships. One or two would come for a short visit now and again. But there had been no binding ties or obligations or commitments. Kendra and Iris were closer to her, yet even they had their allotted space.
Her world was now changing and she wasn’t sure how she felt about it. It was somewhat unnerving and definitely baffling that in all her meticulous planning, Marlie hadn’t taken into account this aspect of her move. She had wanted to come back to Ottawa, because of the feelings she held for the city. The feelings of course had also included friends. What she hadn’t anticipated were the entanglements. She was surprised at herself for this omission. Would it have made a difference if she had analysed various potential consequences? Would she have sold lock stock and barrel and uprooted herself? It was clearly too late to ponder the pros and cons now. The fact that the insight had finally come to her meant she would need to be vigilant. She would need to keep on top of how much she would give up of herself through the process of being part of a group.
Page 150: If there was one thing that became crystal clear to Marlie, it was how little they knew about each other.
Could it have been that evening’s liqueur that had obliterated their inhibitions? Possibly that was a contributing factor. Or perhaps they were now at enough of a comfort level with each other that they could be quite frank about their opinions. While they seemed to be open, it was also obvious how much they had yet to learn, and more so, how carefully they had to tread to avoid trampling each other’s dignity.
Kendra’s irritated outburst was the greatest shock. Marlie had not experienced that kind of attitude from her through all the years she had known her. Kendra had always been the soul of discretion. It appeared to come freely from within as her genuine character. But had Kendra perfected her professional demeanour to such a degree that her true self was always masked? Hopefully she was finally ‘coming out’ also from under that façade.
Marlie was equally startled by Iris’ rebuttal to Kendra’s loss of patience. Kind, timid and mild mannered Iris demonstrated what one might call ‘spunk’. Marlie had not often witnessed that kind of assertion from Iris, generally alien to her temperament. Although of course there was nothing wrong with Iris taking a stand on a subject that was particularly close to her. Who knew what had triggered her reaction?
And Nessa was probably the greatest surprise of all. Marlie thought about her own attitude, and how superficially she had judged Nessa. And yes, of course Iris had been absolutely correct. Who but someone with incredible mystical depth could produce her astounding art work? How wrong she had been about her friend.
What had she given away to them, about herself? Would the day come when she also would loosen her controlled reserve and reveal her hidden entity?
Were they all pretending to be someone other than who they were? Was everyone like that, wearing a public mask? How apparent it was that they knew so little about each other. How very obvious it now appeared that she had inadvertently become part of the very entanglements she had tried to avoid.
Page 223: Marlie pondered about her time on this unexpected voyage. It was clearly a journey she needed to make, moving her from the shores of her unsettled life to a place more fulfilled, shifting here and there from the past to the present with hints of new possibilities. Owen’s desire to have his purpose realized was part of all that. And somewhere along the way, her own path would become re-defined. Of that, she was now more convinced than ever before. She had reconnected with cherished friends, each one being a part of the mosaic that was spinning a magic tapestry before her. But for now, it was enough to know that her life with Owen and her love of Amanda combined, foretelling of a future, yet unknown.
Page 263: She was at the empty tomb again. “You know I am not here.. You are Mary Magdalene. You need to believe me! You are strong. You too have a purpose to share.”
Marlie woke with a jolt. She remembered the words, but they were different this time from previous dreams. The words were about her. She needed Owen’s comfort and it had come. Later that morning she went to her desktop computer to re-read the last entry of her novel.
Life is so precious. One moment there you are with your treasured friends surrounding you, and the next, it all changes. And I don’t think I am strong Owen. I just keep going, as I haven’t an alternative. She knew her thoughts were morose. It was time to re-compose herself and reconnect with her surroundings.
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