EPIPHANY INTERVIEWS AUTHOR D.S. KINAHAN
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing and learning more about my special friend, D.S. Kinahan, who is a brilliant author. I have read all but one of her books, which are centered around a woman by the name of Cathy. I will be reading that one soon and I anticipate book #5. Let's keep our fingers crossed, hope, and pray that D.S. Kinahan will continue to write and give us more books to read! I highly recommend that you read her books, but without further delay…let us get to this interview and learn some interesting things about author D.S. Kinahan!
(1) How old were you when you started writing?
I can remember writing a Valentine’s Day play and performing it with the help of some friends in front of my third-grade class. (Such memorable characters: Stanley Stupid and Stupid Cupid, lol.) However, I redeemed myself in the seventh grade when I won an essay contest sponsored by the Erie County SPCA.
(2) You have so many interesting books about Cathy and her experiences. What inspired you to write Love, Despair, and Other Heartaches?
I had always wanted to write a book, but never could come up with a solid idea for a story. Then, several years ago, I came across the journals I’d kept during a very difficult period in my life. They served as the basis for my first novel, “Love, Despair and Other Heartaches”.
(3) Out of all your published books, which one is your favorite? Why?
My first two books, while not autobiographies, were based (to varying degrees) on actual events in my life. “My Zestful Years” was the first novel I wrote which was totally fictional, and that is why it’s my favorite. (In the spirit of full disclosure, though, I will confess that I currently live in an active adult community, and I played ping pong with the guys when I first moved here. Also, I’ve owned a Rottweiler at one point in my life. As they say, write about what you know.)
(4) What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book?
I usually don’t work on anything unless I have at least 2-3 hours of uninterrupted peace and quiet to dedicate to writing (i.e., usually when my husband is out playing golf or poker). Those ideal conditions are few and far between (maybe a couple afternoons a week, if I’m lucky).
Unfortunately, when I’m knee-deep in developing a book, my mind doesn’t just shut off. There’s always those random ideas, words, and phrases that MUST be incorporated into what I’m working on. Naturally, they usually come to mind when I’m trying to go to sleep. I’ve learned from experience that I need to get out of bed (no matter what time it is) and spend an hour or two getting it down on paper; otherwise, my brain won’t let me rest.
(5) If you could be mentored by a famous author, who would it be and why?
Definitely Jacqueline Susann. She was so ahead of her time, unabashedly writing about edgy, sexy, and often taboo topics. I tried to channel her spirit while creating my own novels (which I’ve categorized as “slutty chick lit”) but, obviously, I didn’t even come close to her work. Maybe because my characters are normal, everyday people rather than international movie stars and opulent billionaires. I’m sure Jacqueline could have helped me create something much more fabulous than my own puny attempts.
(6) What do you think is the most challenging part about writing a book?
The most challenging aspect for me is coming up with the storyline. I spent over thirty years working as an auditor for the federal government which, obviously, isn’t a very creative background. That’s why I didn’t even attempt my first book until several years into my retirement. (I had to get myself out of that “professional accountant” mindset.)
Once I did have an idea in mind, it wasn’t always clear and concise as to where it was going. Sometimes the plot would start meandering or just quit on me. It may sound strange, but I could work out a lot of issues while I was on my treadmill. Maybe my brain just needs a break from writing occasionally to do some free-form thinking, but it always seemed to work for me.
And then, if you’re lucky enough, an idea conveniently falls into your lap. I’d gotten as far as I could go while writing “My Zestful Years”, but it was way too short to end it as is and I couldn’t come up with any way to continue the story. Shortly afterwards, my neighbors came driving home in their brand-new RV, and the rest of the book seemed to write itself.
In my particular case, another big challenge when writing was keeping track of all kinds of trivial data when covering a forty-year period. There was a lot of Googling involved to stay true to the story, since “Love, Despair and Other Heartaches” starts in 1981. What music was popular back then? When did home security systems become commonplace? When did everyone start owning a cell phone? Even everyday jargon became suspect. Sometimes I didn’t even think to look into an item because it was so ordinary (I almost got busted when I referenced a music CD, only to later realize they weren’t even for sale back then). It got to be a bit stressful, to say the least.
(7) What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Since I’ve retired, tennis has become my passion! I hadn’t played in over thirty years, but now you can find me on the courts three times a week. After losing 65 pounds in 2020, I try to stay active during the rest of the week by riding my bike or jumping on the treadmill. When there’s a lull in my schedule, I’ll take over the dining room for several days and do some scrapbooking. My husband and I enjoy gambling (no surprise since we live in Nevada), going off-roading in our Jeep, and traveling.
(8) List three of your all-time favorite books (by other authors) that have inspired you along the way.
Before I answer this, I must admit I’d gotten away from reading when I started writing my first book (so we’re talking several years, at least since 2017). This was a deliberate decision as I didn’t want to be influenced by anyone else’s work while creating my own, be it an intentional, accidental, or subliminal occurrence. Good, bad or indifferent, whatever I wrote had to be mine and mine alone, and taking a hiatus from reading was how I guaranteed that would happen. I’ve only recently started reading again (and, when you see my selections, now you know why they might be a bit dated).
First and foremost, I have to give a shout out to Janet Evanovich. She is just fabulous! Her series of books featuring New Jersey bounty hunter Stephanie Plum are just the best: interesting, funny and personable, with just a touch of sexiness. Based on her work, I decided it was okay to have the same main character in all my books (in my case, it’s Cathy, a CPA). It’s certainly a lot easier than trying to recreate someone new every time you start another novel.
Next is James Herriot, with his semi-biographical works about his experiences as a country veterinarian in rural England. Being a huge animal lover, I own all his books and re-read them regularly. Since his characters’ varying dialects are so distinctively written, it encouraged me to concentrate on this area when I wrote; otherwise, everyone in my books would end up sounding the same (probably like me, God forbid). So, whenever I’m writing for a character, I usually have someone in mind (either a person I know, someone on TV, a famous personality, etc.) that serves as my guide for their manner of speech.
Okay, this is NOT my favorite book, but it inspired me nonetheless. Many, many years ago I read “Wifey” by Judy Blume. It was the most juvenile, cringe-worthy novel I had ever read. And this was from a best-selling author? It did inspire me to say to myself, “I could write something much better than this!” And so, I did! (In my mind, anyway…) I’ve read many other novels since then created by best-selling authors that still make me shake my head and say, “Are you kidding me?” (And, if you follow my reviews on Goodreads, you’ll see I’m not afraid to say so, either.)
(9) What book are you working on currently? What can we expect next?
I completed my fifth (and probably last) book earlier this year. It’s been set aside to “brew” while I attempt to work on marketing my other four novels. (Yuck, what torture!) Most likely it’ll be released in time for Valentine’s Day 2023. I don’t want to give too much away (although somehow, Epiphany, you managed to figure it out!) but it’s the end of Cathy’s escapades. I started writing about her when she was in her mid-thirties, and will finish when she’s in her mid-seventies, so I think the world has heard enough about her.
I’m not saying I’ll never write another book beyond my fifth one, but right now I have no plans to do so. Although I’m not in it for the money (no author should be; otherwise, they’re going to be greatly disappointed), but it gets discouraging to put so much time and effort into writing a book and then nobody reads it. My life-long dream was to create a novel and, by the time I’m done, I’ll have five of them in my bookcase. I’d say I more than achieved my goal, so I’m good with that.
(10) What do you hope people take away from reading your books?
My purpose in life has always been to dispel the myth that accountants are boring, unexciting, prim and proper people, because we’re not! We’re funny, loving, sensitive, sexual beings, just like anyone else. We just happen to like working with numbers.