Sunday, April 21, 2013

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Canadian Author Katalin Kennedy

Katalin Kenedy, Author

Please welcome Canadian author Katalin Kennedy whose first novel, THE WOMEN GATHER, spans the late 1990s to 2066 to bring us a story about the journey of women. Written to entertain, the author believes her primary goal is to influence women to comprehend how “to acquire an acceptance of their self-worth.” Although she recognizes that the balance between men and women has grown in some countries, she proposes that a key issue is that we women still see ourselves as unworthy.

Katalin Kennedy escaped from Hungary in 1957 at the age of 8 with her parents and landed in Canada. For 30 years, she worked for Health Canada where she became involved in women’s issues and organizations. She “re-invented” herself as a writer following her retirement.

Don’t miss the giveaway opportunity at the end of the interview.

Q: One of your reviewers said that THE WOMEN GATHER was “Written by a woman, about women, for women but with men in mind.” Is your book directed only at women? What message did you want to deliver to women? What role do men play in your message to women?

Katalin Kennedy: I do hope that men will read the novel. There are a few male characters in THE WOMEN GATHER: Michael, Desmond, Milosh, Joseph and Liam.  They are there on the periphery, however. As the novel unfolds, we are not quite clear how they each feel about the approach which the Norean Order has chosen to pursue. But we recognize that the men represent a necessary aspect to the story line.

I make no apologies that the quest of the novel is about women to acquire an acceptance about their self worth. What the women continue to learn, through their research and journey is that balance is the key to the future. We need both men and women to achieve harmony for humanity.

Q: Why did you write THE WOMEN GATHER?

Katalin Kennedy: I am an ordinary person who is at the same time an eternal optimist. My belief is that we can evolve to become our best selves and make a shining difference in the world.

Whenever women gather, whether in groups of four or twenty-four, we talk of profound matters that deal with  'involvement': within our family, within our community and within our world. We share dreams of a future of peace and understanding that delve deep into universal spiritual truths. Our voices are significant and we need to be heard. We live in a period of history which has the potential to be the most enlightened. Yet, it has become almost expected that we adopt a blaming, pessimistic, dark attitude, both for today and for what lies ahead. Life offers us choices. I have chosen to be positive. My dream is a future of hope for humanity. What if all that can become a reality?

Q: Did you write THE WOMEN GATHER to entertain? To teach? or to influence?

Katalin Kennedy: I would like to believe I did all three.  I think though the first point would be 'to influence'.  While we may feel that we have come a long way in the developed countries concerning how we are valued as women, I'm not convinced. And clearly, women have miles to go to achieve equality in many developing countries. For those of us who are fairly comfortable in our lifestyle and in our role as women, we have a tendency to look the other way and not understand that the road to balance with our male counterparts is not quite so smooth as we would like to believe. I have identified that part of the challenge is that we women do not see ourselves as worthy, owing to various circumstances.  We need to acquire our own sense of confidence. The 'teaching' aspect of the novel is most evident in the presentations by key note speakers at the 2066 Gathering Symposium. Hopefully, the characters, the unraveling of the layers of family stories and the history of the Norean Order, as well as the mysteries and mysticism which permeates the novel will provide 'entertainment'.    

Q: Did you and your parents’ background as refugees from 1956 Hungary influence your writing?

Katalin Kennedy: Although I was only 8 years old when my parents and I escaped, my Hungarian background is very much a part of who I am. I've never belonged to Hungarian associations etc. because my father was adamant that we came to Canada to become Canadians. Nevertheless, I can't help but be influenced by Hungary's rich culture filled with traditions and mythologies and superstitions -- so I will continue to weave some of that into my writing. At the same time, I've always had a strong leaning towards peoples who have been maligned and dismissed by mainstream society throughout the world; sadly most countries have the downtrodden. The treatment of Roma people, particularly in Europe throughout centuries, has always bothered me. When looking for a culture which might lead the way into the future, that is the one I chose.  

Q: Your novel spans the 1990s to 2066. How do you engage readers to travel to the future with your characters? How do you make the future believable?

Katalin Kennedy: I never intended for this novel to be 'futuristic' per se, but rather Utopian. I wanted the reader to imagine where the world might be in 70 years rather than me identifying it outright. The setting takes place in Lemuria, a sheltered community where life has remained much as it had been at the beginning of the Norean Order.  I use bits of technological tools, because that is one way that the Order has attempted to keep up with progress in the Outerworld. This of course is also critical as the women continue their research. The key note speakers at the 2066 Gathering Symposium are the ones who shed some light as to certain issues the Norean Order will need to face, once the Portal is opened. I've seen too many representations of the future as dark and lacking in human control. I'm not convinced of that direction. The future is a mystery for all of us.  I rather wanted to leave it that way.  But I did want to suggest that we could in fact step into a potentially positive new world order, along with Tunde.

Q: What makes a hero/heroine? What makes a villain? What roles do heroes and villains play in THE WOMEN GATHER?

Katalin Kennedy: As an English literature major, I was very aware that having heroes/heroines and villains in a novel is a traditional classic style of writing. I tried to reject that approach at the beginning of my writing. I wanted the story to be about a journey of discovery to self worth. I wanted to demonstrate that we all have struggles: intellectually, spiritually, artistically, economically, ecologically, politically, and in society as a whole.  I didn't want to write about obvious 'white' shining heroines and 'black' shadowy villains. But as the writing evolved, with all its mystical aspects, I found it impossible to dismiss the technique, and so the characters themselves took on a position. What I hoped in the end to suggest was that 'truth' is not as clear-cut as all that.  I wanted to leave enough ambiguity that those whom we might have considered to be dark shadow characters, perhaps they too had some validity.

Q: How do you help readers care about your characters?

Katalin Kennedy: The characters in my outline began as 'paper doll cut out' people to whom I gave certain functions; to my amazement, they became three-dimensional lifelike, likeable figures as the stories unravel. They have backgrounds, they have personalities, they have quirks  and they have a purpose, not only to fulfill the plan for the novel, but to evolve for themselves. There is a sense of wisdom among many, which they have gradually acquired through life tragedies and learnings.  They don't necessarily want the mission that has been placed upon them, but they come to accept it.  They have taught me a lot, and I rather wish they were real people in my real life. I hope they also reach the reader in that way. If I were asked which one is my favourite, I don't believe I could choose. The main characters take on a life of their own. Personally, that is one of the most delightful aspects of having written THE WOMEN GATHER. 

Q: Before you start to write, do you have an outline of your story? Or does it write itself?

Katalin Kennedy: As I said earlier, I am an English literature major so I have read and analyzed many writings over the years. In the past, I wrote fairly brief vignettes, but nothing in way of a novel.  Therefore, I was extremely methodical: I prepared a chapter by chapter outline; character names were chosen with care; histories and story lines for each character were developed; symbolism was identified; great deliberation went into the various techniques and discussions involved in producing the diaries, journals, videos and articles which provide the 'flash back' aspects of the novel; and finally, a huge amount of research was conducted on the issues addressed by the key note speakers.  And yet, with all that planning in place, once the writing began, the characters and even some aspects of the story line evolved and took on a life of their own enriching the original outline, and my personal experience.

Q:  Tell us something about yourself. What do you do when you’re not writing? Favorite music? Books? If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?

Katalin Kennedy: I worked for 30 years in the Canadian Federal Government in social service programs; this included working with major women's organizations. THE WOMEN GATHER draws on some of the learnings from that experience. My husband who died seven years ago was a Protestant Minister, so that my life also involved the church community. Once I retired, and then reinvented myself after his death, I joined many groups which focus on learning (adult education) and service (community involvement). I am also currently president of the local Cornwall and District chapter of the Canadian Federation of University Women.  I continue to enjoy writing my monthly 'Kindness Column' for Seaway News, now in my 10th year.

I've always been a story teller. It is logical therefore that most of my interests include some aspect of that creative process: attending theatrical performances, and 'musicals'; listening to some favourite performers: Billy Joel, Rod Stewart, Andrea Bocelli to name a few. My favourite writer is Margaret Atwood; I have always been in awe of all the different 'worlds' she is able to create in each of her novels.  I enjoy travel in order to experience other life styles and cultures.

At this point in my life, I can't think of anything else I would rather do than become more disciplined about writing every single day.

About Katalin Kennedy

On Christmas Eve, 1956, Katalin (Kennedy) and her parents escaped from Hungary, their homeland. The following April, they arrived as refugees in Saint John, New Brunswick. She spent most of her adult life in Ottawa, Ontario. Katalin graduated from Carleton University and joined Health Canada. She managed major national projects as Program Consultant on Seniors’ and Women’s Issues. Katalin is involved in various community activities including writing her monthly Kindness column for Cornwall’s Seaway News. Her first novel THE WOMEN GATHER has been published by Baico Publishing Inc.


Nora’s mission had been demanding. She wanted to find a way for women to rediscover their true selves, denied to them throughout the centuries—and to make the world a better place. When the young
girl Aideen asks Tunde if she may come to Lemuria, Ontario and learn about the beginnings of the Norean Order founded in 1998, she agrees. Tunde’s preoccupation, however, is with the smooth flow of the ‘Gathering’ symposium of 2066. Women from all the Sanctuaries throughout the world are in attendance and await the momentous event: the opening of the Portal to the Outerworld. She has little time to spend with Aideen who unravels layers and layers of stories found in letters, articles, diaries, newspaper clippings and videos about the struggles and triumphs faced by Nora’s family and by the Order itself. What Aideen also detects is something she considers to be mystical—that no one wants to acknowledge.


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Where to Purchase
Baico Publishing Inc. Contact at:

First prize, second and third prize: Autographed Copy of THE WOMEN GATHER
Click HERE for giveaway


  1. Hello Joyce, On behalf of Katalin Kennedy and Book Marketing Services, I would like to thank you for hosting and interviewing Katalin, author of The Women Gather, today on Strand’s Simply Tips. Katalin will be by later in the day to respond to any questions and/or comments.
    To all readers, please take a moment to enter the giveaway to win an autographed copy of The Women Gather
    Please join us tomorrow when Katalin will be the interviewed by Jessica Veter at I Read a Book Once

  2. Thank you Joyce for this wonderful opportunity to share my novel, The Women Gather. The interview was a time for me to reflect on the writing experience. All the best. Keep harnessing the goodness! Katalin

  3. Great interview! Thanks for stopping by my blog, new GFC follower =)