Yesterday, I introduced everyone to Kenneth Weene, author of Widow's Walk. Today, I am honored to share with you an interview with Mr. Weene :-)
What three words do you think describe you as a human being?
caring, intelligent, and poetic
How do you think others would describe you?
loving, politically concerned, smart, decent, honest, articulate, sociable, creative.
Please tell us what you are most passionate about outside of writing.
Friends – I love being with them or when so limited just communicating with them.
Theatre, I can never get enough. I also love to go listen to classical music. But of the two, theatre is the greater passion.
Politics including both action and theory. I guess social science in general. I love to discuss the political and economic issues of our times both with friends and with those who disagree with me.
When I was younger I was very passionate about being in nature, camping and especially whitewater rafting.
I loved my work as a psychologist – possibly too much - and cared deeply about my clients.
I am very involved at a personal level in faith, trying to wrestle with God to understand the world, His plan, and my existence.
Then there is my wife, whom I love beyond anything, and our son, who is not really our son but who has that same relationship with us and who – along with his family – are very important to me.
Do you have any pets? If so, introduce us to them.
Roz and I had a number of dogs and horses over the years. At a certain point we felt it was time to stop. However we still have their photographs around us. I would like to say something about the most regnant of the dogs.
Uncle, a black poodle-terrier found at the pound, was the dominant dog. She was a reincarnated queen if ever one existed. Her greatest weakness was alcohol; that little animal loved to drink. We use to go to this one place in Vermont, an inn, that was very animal friendly. They’d serve her in the lounge. She drank Harvey’s Bristol Cream Sherry. Moreover, it had to be out of a proper glass, no bowls for her. Uncle would get out of the room, go down and have a drink, and they’d put it on my bill.
Jennifer was my Airedale. She was a good soul. Jenny loved to swim. She also collected rocks. She’d pick them up, mostly at the stable, and then leave them in the car,
The third dog that was really important in my life was Streaker. A Cardigan Welch Corgi, Streaker was an AKC champion and a sweetie. She loved us and lying next to one of us in a sunbeam. There was an aura of love that surrounded her.
There are times I wish I had a dog now. We make believe that there is one, Missing. If only we could find her, wherever she may be.
What is your most precious memory?
I met David when he was nine. He was having problems at school and at home. His folks brought him for help. That would have been easy, but instead we bonded as father and son, something almost beyond comprehension. I still think back on the moment when it was clear how that was magical and inevitable. I had taken him bowling, and we were on the way back. He started to cry and told me that I couldn’t take his father’s place; all the while it was so clear that I had. I had known him about two months and had done very little except make it clear that I cared. It was a moment of shear human beauty. Over the years many of the young people I have helped have told me that what made me stand out was that I did truly care. I did; I still do.
What is your most embarrassing memory?
I had a very unpleasant childhood. My father could be emotionally abusive – raging at my brother or me for no reason. The one worst time was in front of about fifteen people whose respect I really craved.
We were at our family’s business, a summer camp; and they worked for him – except one man, Max, who was my father’s friend, whom I really respected and who sent his kids to the camp. My father became frustrated because he didn’t have the necessary tool, a hammer. He was bending far more nails than he was successfully hammering into this wooden frame he and the carpenter were making. It was to be the floor of a large tent.
My father singled me out for abuse – horrible abuse the words of which cannot reasonably be written down. It is sufficient to say that they included comments about my relationships with my mother/his wife - comments that went beyond vulgar, about the composition of my body, and about my obvious intent to steal from him and anyone else.
The abuse didn’t end there. He sent me off to one and then another corner of the property to retrieve a hammer. There was not one to be had because he had them all at the other camp six miles away. Eventually, when I failed to find the non-existent, he sent me after a fire-axe which did exist and which was incredibly unsafe.
Still trying to be rational, I told him that the axe handle was not well attached to the head and that it was unsafe. With more profanity, he insisted that I do what I was told. So, I retrieved.
He took one look at that axe and started screaming at my stupidity at bringing it to him when it was so dangerous. I snapped. I was going to bury it in his head when Max, yelled. I whirled and buried it in a tree.
The pain of that moment, the helplessness, the total loss of control: they have haunted my life. For years I couldn’t look Max in the eye.
If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing with your life?
I’d get involved in more political causes.
In two paragraphs or less write your obituary.
Kenneth Weene was a writer. His two published books were the novel, “Widow’s Walk,” and an anthology, “Songs For My Father.” In addition to his published work, Weene left behind many other pieces on which he worked with passion.
Ken was also a psychologist, a pastoral counselor, and a political activist. He cared deeply about others and about the world in which he lived. He was always willing to attend a political event, to knock on doors, or to simply talk with others about the state of the world. He wanted to make it better. Ken had many friends, and he was known as someone who would do anything for others. His love for his wife and their son and his son’s family was a center point of his life.
Can you describe the time you realized you were indeed a “real” writer?
It was in high school, tenth grade. I had written an essay about a night on the beach in Florida. It was really good – even the teacher, who didn’t like me, had to admit that it was exceptional. But, he added, this one word is wrong. I had described the moon as white-gold; he wanted me to use silver. In that flash of recognition that I had to choose the words I became “the” writer. Even though it was years before I actually took up that mantle, I think that day marked the moment of recognition.
What is going on with your writing these days?
I just had contract offer on a second novel. I am still working on getting it just right. It is, in my opinion, a very important piece. When I’ve read excerpts from it, people have been really blown away.
Currently, I’m also working on a play. It is about a man and his psychoanalyst. I think it may be worth the effort.
Then there’s another novel that is pretty much written but which I have yet to shop around.
What are your future goals for your writing?
I want to finish the play I mentioned before. And lately, I have started thinking about a non-fiction book – not surprisingly one on politics and economics.
Of course my greatest goal is to produce and have published material that will excite readers and performers, material that will be “worth it” for the audience.
Can you describe a typical writing day for you?
I do most of my writing in the early morning, before my wife gets up. I try to put in an hour or two at the computer. Then a few days a week I will also go off to write, to a bookstore or coffee shop. There I sit with a notebook, a latte and a pencil. Of course, there are always those moments that come unexpectedly when I have to grab a pen and jot something down. Most typically that’s some poetry, but lately it is also ideas for that play.
Why do you write?
Do I have a choice? I write for the same reason I breathe – it is necessary for life.
What writer most inspires you? Why?
Dostoyevsky because of his wonderful exploration of the darkness of being human, Kafka because of his wrestling with the absurdity of life, and Pirandello because he so recognized the character as an independent being. Cormac McCarthy because of the ultimacy of his plots; they are reduced to that which is most basic.
How do you define your writing?
My writing is a process. It is the wrestling of my soul with God over the meaning of existence. I create worlds in which characters can become who they are so that I can better understand them and therefore the human condition and myself. Therefore, the stories move from my expectations to something that I cannot possibly know ahead of time. When I am surprised, not always happily, I know that I have given them the greatest gift, the independence and free will necessary to be alive.
In one sentence—what do you want people to say about your writing in fifty years?
Weene explored the human condition by creating characters who needed to live and to become.
Can you tell us where to find more information on you? Website? Blog?
I have a blog for the novel. Http://WIDOWS-WALK.WEBS.COM
Also, I’ve been doing a lot of interviews like this one. Since every interview involves different questions, I guess that a web search might turn up some interesting stuff as well as some of my poetry, etc.
Is there a place where readers can reach you?
I’m on Facebook. I have an email that folks can use. KWeene1941@gmail.com
Can you list all your book titles so people can look for them?
“Widow’s Walk” and “Songs For My Father” are the two that have been published so far. They should also be watching for “Memoirs From the Asylum,” which should be out in the next year.
For new readers—what can they expect when they read your book(s)?
Character driven stories with lots of dialog. Questions about the meaning of live and our relation with God. Just little things like that.
Take as much space as necessary to speak to our readers—what would you like them to know about you and your writing?
Writing is only complete when there is a reader. You are very important to my writing. I imagine you sitting in a comfortable chair, some drink on the table beside you, your feet up, my book in hand. Do you smile? Do you frown? Are there tears? Perhaps most importantly, do you take a moment to put the words away and to think – to think about their cadence, their meaning, and their impact on the characters? If I have evoked reaction in you as reader, then I have lived up to my responsibility as author.
Thank you, Kenneth, for your openness and sharing.