Wednesday, October 28, 2015

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Katalin Kennedy, Author

Katalin Kennedy, Author
Katalin Kennedy describes her newest novel, RECONNECTING, as “plausible or realistic fiction” about relationships older women create as they enter new life segments. Although she writes fiction, Kennedy focuses on relationships in her books and primarily targets women, but has been pleased that men have read and appreciated her novels.

Kennedy is currently working on her third book to involve relationships. When she's not writing, she participates in a variety of organizations and causes, and loves to travel. She currently lives in Cornwall, Ontario.

Don't miss the opportunity to enter a giveaway following the interview.

Q: In what genre would you place RECONNECTING? Why?

Katalin Kennedy: This is a question I’m frequently asked, and one with which I have difficulty. I’ve used my own term ‘plausible fiction’, although I understand that the term ‘realistic fiction’ might be better known. My story line is not based on any real life anecdote, nevertheless, it is within the realm of plausibility. I make reference to a good number of historic facts, and that gives the novel a realistic flavor.

Q: The theme for RECONNECTING seems to be the exploration of the relationships that accompany friendships. What drove you to delve into this theme? 

Katalin Kennedy: As long as I write, I will always discuss some aspect of the relationship people develop among each other.

In RECONNECTING I wanted to explore the threads that connect a small group who are older: Marlie, Kendra, Vanessa and Iris. Unless we live on a mountain, being part of a community no matter how small, is an integral aspect of our human need. Our networks diminish and certainly change once we close the door to the ‘work force’ community. The change dictates that we redefine who we are, both to ourselves and to others. Mental health professionals continue to promote the importance of social contact as a means to achieve our own positive attitude about aging. Thus, coming together at the Condo Complex in Ottawa, the four women redefine their new ‘community’ and at the same time, begin to explore who they are in a new role they must now assume. Along the way, their ‘entanglements’ with each other come to form a closer bond and a realization that one never has to stop learning.

Q: Reviewers appreciate RECONNECTING as “a good feast for the soul.” Did you intend to write both an entertaining story as well as offer insight and guidance through ‘reconnecting?’

Katalin Kennedy: The women meet for weekly dinners. I chose this setting because I do think it is a way many of us interact with each other. Through these times of being together, we learn about the women’s beliefs, their attitudes and their individual stories; it is also a means by which the women themselves learn about each other. Thus while they nourish their bodies they also nourish their soul. I’ve incorporated dialogue into a good portion of the novel, which to some extent ‘lightens’ the more serious aspects of their discussions. 

For a reader to want to turn the page of a novel, there needs to be some form of involvement.  If the reader is comfortable with the characters at informal gatherings, more profound points can also be raised for personal reflection.

Q: RECONNECTING primarily involves women as the main characters. Have you targeted women readers? Or will men also appreciate the story?

Katalin Kennedy:  Years ago, one of my professors at university offered the advice to write about what I know. So of course, I’ve targeted women as the reader. From both a personal and professional point of view (having worked for years in women’s issues) I am familiar with the role of older women who live alone. In this novel, nevertheless, there are the compatible male characters Sam and Robert who are also older, and who have equal concerns about their life course and beliefs. A number of men whom I know have read my novel and have been quite comfortable about the discussions that take place within it.

Q: What do you consider essential characteristics of an engaging character? What will make readers want to follow your protagonist, Marlie, and her friends?

Katalin Kennedy: Good question again… one that I can’t help but think is quite subjective. From my point of view, a character needs first to fit into the story line. And second,  s/he needs to transmit a certain amount of humility and conviction; at the same time, s/he should suggest some flaws, which s/he may or may not recognize. In other words, the characters (not only the protagonist, but each of them) need to be somewhat like we are, human, so that we can relate to them. That after all is generally how a reader becomes involved with and takes away from what the novel conveys.

(I want to digress here and comment that for the writer, this is somewhat a double edged sword. Readers may assume that the characters portray thinly disguised traits of the author. From the point of view that they are life like and believable, this is a positive observation. But from the writer’s agonizing creative process which is involved in bringing characters to life, this is a rather dismissive opinion.)

Q: What do you consider to be the key characteristics of a friendship/relationship?

A: Being open and accepting. These seem to be simple enough characteristics, but they are not. As Marlie and her friends discover, once the ‘superficial’ layers of what they thought they knew about each other are peeled away, they each harbor other traits which were quite different from what they had assumed to make up each persona. And these are traits which require a new understanding in their relationship.

Q: Do you value humor as a component of telling your story and/or of developing relationships?

Katalin Kennedy: It is one component which seems to work. Laughter is a great communicator, especially after a glass or two of wine. Humor seems to suggest the impression that we don’t take ourselves too seriously, which is a comfortable lead-in to relationship development. Once that path has been opened, we can more easily tread off into disclosing more significant aspects of our life.

Q: You have written poetry, columns for a newspaper, and now two novels. Do you have a favorite? Were you able to leverage your column-writing experience for your novels?

Katalin Kennedy: I guess the last work one creates is more likely the favorite. But I’m not sure. I have a good comfort level with most of my previous writings. They portray a perspective that was valid at the time; surprisingly, most still resonate as applicable even now.

I’ve not thought of my previous writings as ‘leveraging’ but I suspect there is validity in that way of thinking. I tend to be what I call a ‘brief’ writer; I generally need to go back and expand on a narrative. Both in poetry and in column writing of the 500 word requirement, I was able to express my thoughts in what I’ll call distinct ‘chunks’.  Eventually, I felt too closed-in by that method and wanted to expand into writing a full length novel. I suppose the previous approaches served me well. I learned to compartmentalize. I certainly did that in my first novel “The Women Gather”, which unfolds through  letters, articles, diaries, newspaper clippings and videos.  To some extent it is also evident in “Reconnecting” as the various characters have their own distinct story lines – which eventually interconnect.

Q:  What’s next?

Katalin Kennedy: The idea for “Reconnecting” began to emerge while I was in the throes of writing my first novel “The Women Gather”.  And again, I experienced the emerging of Book 3 as I was completing “Reconnecting”. This serves a positive aspect: giving me confidence that I still have more to say. I’ve been asked whether I would do a sequel, but that is not yet in my consideration.  As both “The Women Gather” and “Reconnecting” are quite different in style and of course in content, I need to make sure that the third one will follow my need for diversity. The story line is evolving; research, outline, character formation etc. are being worked out.  At the same time, I’m planning to take my previous writings (some of which are on my web site and compile them in one book.

Q:  Tell us about Katalin Kennedy. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Katalin Kennedy: I am a retired civil servant, who worked in social service programs in Ottawa, with the Canadian Federal Government. After moving to Cornwall Ontario, I joined a number of community organizations having held office in some of them as my biography indicates. I enjoy the company and causes of diverse groups, (both in age and in gender). I do belong to a Book Club through the Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW) which gives me a good sense of what other writers address. I love research and learning to such a degree that my tablet has become a good companion; a thought races in the brain and I need to explore it further. Travel is at the height of activities which I enjoy having been through Britain and Europe on a number of occasions, and in China. I’m disheartened by the tragedy of peoples who need to leave their homeland to seek asylum elsewhere. It is an experience I understand, having come to Canada as a refugee in my childhood.

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.

RECONNECTING excerpt: Page 61

            “Damn this aging thing!” Iris heard herself bemoan to Marlie later that evening as they and Poppy consumed the last of the leftovers. “The Asians have such a sensible attitude about growing old and having respect for their elders. I have to say I don’t think much about the wisdom of my years as I helplessly watch my mother return to infancy. She's 95 for pity’s sake. We weren't meant to live that long, and not that way.”

“We each have our own story,” Marlie was trying to assemble words that would convey comfort. “My mother died twenty years ago: too young, too early, and too healthy. For years, there wasn't a day that went by without me wishing she was still alive. She died so suddenly. So unexpectedly exactly a year to the day of my father's death. They were very much in love. I've heard others having that experience. When the first year anniversary of Owen’s death passed, I can't tell you how relieved I felt. Oh, I shudder having made such a horrid admission, out loud. I think my mother died of a broken heart and I wondered if I would as well.” Marlie stopped abruptly. “I'm sorry! You didn’t need to hear this. You have enough to deal with.”

            “What kind of friends are we if we have to tip-toe around each other?” Iris was quick to respond. “Your parents and husband died all too young. My father was 98 when he passed away two years ago. My mother's body is still on the planet, as is my ex-husband Warren's. Which of us is better off emotionally? Who knows? Still, you have your gorgeous daughter Mandy. I was so pleased to spend a bit of time with her again.” …

            Marlie was somewhat puzzled to hear about this part of her daughter’s connection with Iris. She knew it existed, but not to what extent. Was she sensing a tinge of envy? Of being left out? What else about her daughter did she not know? Has she been so self-absorbed that she hadn’t been paying sufficient attention? Or had Mandy deliberately left parts of her life completely private? How foolish she suddenly felt. Mandy was a grown woman, with her own friends, and her own life. There were probably tons of things she didn’t know about her. Marlie had been surprised that Mandy decided to delve fully into work on her thesis, directly after Owen’s death. Perhaps that was the way she coped. Owen had been the world to her and she to him. When they had decided to have a child, Owen confided that he preferred having a daughter; he simply said he knew girls to be more sensible. He had also teased Marlie: ‘I don’t want you to become jealous of our relationship, when she becomes a beautiful young woman.’ Father and daughter had been very close. Strange that she was now feeling envious of her daughter’s relationship with one of her dearest friends.

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Where to Purchase:
Author: Katalin Kennedy 
·         First prize: $25 Amazon gift certificate and autographed copy of Reconnecting
·          Second and third prize: Autographed Copy of Reconnecting


  1. Hello Joyce,
    On behalf of Katalin Kennedy and Book Marketing Services, I would like to thank you for hosting and interviewing Katalin today on Strand’s Simply Tips. If anyone has any questions and/or comments they would like to share Katalin will be by later in the day to respond.
    Katalin is having a giveaway during her tour. 1st prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card and an autographed copy of Reconnecting; 2nd Prize: autographed copy of Reconnecting; 3rd Prize: autographed copy of Reconnecting. Click here to enter:
    Please join Katalin tomorrow, Friday, October 30th when she will be the guest blogger on Laurie Here – Contemporary Fiction and MORE Her topic is: "What is your MUSE for writing? How did your Muse end up becoming your muse?"
    Check where Katalin is each day on her tour by clicking here: or on her website:
    Thanks again,

  2. Thank you so very much for hosting my new novel "Reconnecting". It is indeed a privilege to be featured on your web site. I hope the novel resonates for readers. All the best, Katalin