Author Interview: Desiree R. Kannel
Hello Readers, today we have another author interview. Yes, I know it's Saturday, but I wanted to slip this one in. Our victim is Desiree Kannel who's here to talk about her first published novel; Lucky John. Let me tell give you a few book details, then we'll get straight to the questions!
Published: June 2020
Publisher: Black Rose Writing
Genre: African American historical fiction, family fiction
Available: paperback, ebook
JMR- Hi Desiree, tell us a little bit about yourself. Where do you live, what do you do for fun? What does a perfect day look like for you?
DRK- I was born and raised in Long Beach, California. I love this city and was excited to include bits of it (past and present) in my novel. Pre-COVID, I enjoyed eating out – Long Beach has tons of different ethnic restaurants—and meeting friends at coffee shops to talk and have writing sessions. Fortunately, our parks and outdoor areas are open, and I spend a lot of time walking nature trails and near the beach.
I work from home and a perfect day is when I can stay on my work schedule, and still have time to take a swim when the weather permits and get some reading done.
JMR- Like many authors, you came to writing later in life, after a couple of career changes. When did you know you wanted to be a writer? How has it changed your life?
DRK- I discovered I wanted to be a writer while I was in my MFA program at Antioch University, Los Angeles. I knew I enjoyed writing stories but calling myself a writer and pursuing it as a career seemed like a dream that was not for me. But then I met people who were living that dream and thought, I can do this. The writing community I joined at Antioch was great in their support and encouragement. After graduating, I formed communities in Long Beach and joined others like Women Who Submit, an organization dedicated to helping women and nonbinary writers get their work published.
Before embracing writing as my career, I found myself changing careers about every 3 years. I haven’t had that thought since I began using creative writing as a career choice. Besides writing and publishing, I also teach creative writing to adults and children through my business, Rose Writers Workshops.
JMR- You just published your first book, Lucky John. What does it feel like to hold that book in your hand and know you wrote it?
DRK- Great and unbelievable! Lucky John was about 10 years in the making; from first chapter to publication. I have a few books around the house and every time I see one, I think, wow, I did it!
JMR- Lucky John is the story of John Roberts. He has a difficult transition to adulthood and bears a lot of anger against his family. How did you develop this character? Is he based on real people? What do you love about John? Did you find yourself getting mad at him? At his poor choices?
DRK- John Roberts is a mix of some of the significant men I’ve had in my life: father, brothers, husband (deceased) and a few coworkers. I also see bits of myself in him. I didn’t realize this until after I had finished the first draft. Before that, I just thought this man had showed up to tell me his story.
I love John’s sense of humor and how he wanted to help his dad. But what was frustrating was the take-charge way he wanted to do it. His obsession with his old love was a challenge too. I kept wanting to yell at him: “Get over it!”
JMR- What do you hope readers take away from his story? Life lessons? Universal themes?
DRK- Overall, I hope readers have an enjoyable read and that it adds a bit of escapism from everything else that is going on in the world.
The theme could be that every story has two sides. Adult John was fixated on just his side of events and it wasn’t until he had insight into the other’s side, that things began to change for him.
JMR-Your next book is a prequel to Lucky John, can you give us a peek? What is it about? How does it differ from Lucky John?
DRK- I’m really excited about this project. John’s ancestor, Marcus Abraham, is one of the thousands of enslaved people living on Galveston Island when they finally learn that they are free on June 18, 1865, the original Juneteenth. The novel follows Marcus and his family as they leave Texas and settle in an area of California now known as Riverside. Marcus works in the citrus industry and rebuilds his family and begins his legacy there.
JMR- Sounds really interesting. I live not far from Galveston. I was surprised to find that a lot of people outside of Texas, were unaware of Juneteenth. Your book sounds really interesting, lots of good history.
JMR- What authors have shaped your writing style? Who do you admire in the writing world? Who would you like to be compared to?
DRK- Big fan of Toni Morrison, J. California Cooper, Ernest J. Gaines, Barbara Kingsolver, Jeffrey Eugenides and more. I love Morrison for her eloquent style and powerful storytelling. My own writing is more in the vein of J. California Cooper because of her straightforward, but layered storytelling style.
JMR- Some writers say that their characters speak to them, tell them their story as they write. Is this true for you? Or do you dictate the characters, keep them in line, work from a strict outline?
DRK- Oh goodness yes! For this story I joke that John, once he came, wouldn’t shut up! Whenever I tried to write him as I thought he should be, the writing came out flat and forced. I knew I was letting him tell the story when the writing flowed easily.
I never outline before the first draft is finished. Afterwards, I create a sort of chapter by chapter synopsis to look for gaps or other flaws.
JMR-Tell us how to follow you on social media and the web.
I’m on Twitter and Instagram @RWWrites
Desireekannel.com – my author page
Rosewriters.com – my writing business and workshop page
Thank you, Desiree for joining us today and sharing your new book, Lucky John. We wish you great success with all your writing.
Readers! Don't miss a single interview, review or post.