Bill Kennedy talks about the challenges in bringing The Singing Bone to life.
About The Singing Bone: Liam Stone operates within a band of emotion that never touches his self imposed safety limits; no severe pain, yet no great joy. The death of his widowed mother in an automobile accident and a meeting with his father’s best friend, a Catholic priest, convince him that he is aware of only a small portion of who his parents truly were. He learns of the existence of a group of ledgers that his father had hidden. He finds the ledgers, but can’t read # eleven. A severe case of tinnitus stops him every time he touches the book. Each bout with the ledger loosens images of people and events from the 19th and early 20th century, including his father as a young man. He starts to remember names and stories that no one had ever told him. His memories go back three generations to an 1850 North Atlantic crossing from New Ross to New Orleans. He stops work on his second book of poetry and writes a novel formed from these images. After the novel’s publication, Liam has a shocking revelation.
The first challenge was the decision to research the documents that I had discovered in my father’s filing cabinet:
1) Naturalization and citizenship papers from the 1850’s, dad’s grandparents,
2) Divorce papers from 1932, dad’s first marriage, which led to
3) Cemetery records,
4) Marriage documents,
5) History of basketball,
6) Al Capone’s family and business.
All played a role in the book.
Chapters often started with a document that loosened a memory of my family and then to a dream state with words flowing onto paper, hand written then typed.
I remember pushing myself away from the table the day I wrote the final chapter and felt at peace.
Next I met with a priest to discuss the Catholic church teaching on marriage, divorce and excommunication.
Then came a search for an agent over a six month period that led to signing with Harriet Wasserman, Saul Bellow’s agent. I was in heaven until she disappeared shortly thereafter under suspicion of fraud and misappropriation of author’s funds.
This eye-opening event led me to research Amazon’s Create Space and led to the publishing of the paper-back and e-version of The Singing Bone. Formatting the interior of the book and creating the cover art are challenges that I actually enjoyed. However, for a small fee, these services are readily available on-line.
Barnes & Noble’s Nook Press allowed me to publish the hard back version, but without text or images on the dust jacket flaps. Then I discovered IngramSpark’s services that included DJ flap printing. I transferred the hard back ISBN’s to IngramSpark and now have two printing sources.
I sent a copy of the hard back to Barnes & Noble Galleria in Edina and asked the CRM if I could do a reading in their new store. Much to my surprise and satisfaction, she said yes. The agreement calls for the author to provide the books on consignment and bring them in for the reading, then take them home after the reading. I ordered 35 copies for a reading at the end of April and had them shipped directly to the store. Sounded like a good idea. Then discovered a conflict with scheduling and had to cancel. I am waiting for B&N to ship the books back to me, at my expense of course, and look forward to a rescheduled event in the fall.
I was not expecting to make a living as an author and have not been disappointed.
In the meantime, I raise funds for our local library, love every minute of the job, and continue to write prose and poetry.
William Kennedy started writing stories a long time ago. He hid them in the back of his closet under a shoe box. He realized later that stories could be shared and somebody might enjoy reading them. He has published some of those short stories in literary magazines and webzines. A few years ago, he received his MFA in creative writing for children and young adults at Hamline University in St. Paul. He now focuses his writing on middle grade novels that feature Tramp, the world’s best dog detective. He was born in Peoria, Illinois. He had a dog and lost a dog. He went to the library a lot and now works in one.