John Kenworthy is the quintessential eclectic writer, using his various life experiences to craft his writing. In this interview, John discusses how he uses social media and how he directs much of his marketing to independent bookstores.
1. Tell me briefly about your books – what are they about and what motivated you to write them?
My first book, The Hand About the Mouse: An Intimate Biography of Ub Iwerks, was published by Disney in 2001. Co-written with Ub’s granddaughter, Leslie, we tell the compelling story of one of the most amazing minds in entertainment history. Ub is the forgotten man. For me personally, I have always been drawn to those geniuses who work seemingly without ego behind the scenes to lift up technology and art – and Ub is an incredible example of that. He created Mickey Mouse, added color, sound, multidimensionality, and xerography to cartoons. He created technology to combine live action and animation and perfected techniques that he used to great effect with Alfred Hitchcock’s “the Birds”.
My second book is a breezy little industrial book entitled, Bungee Jumping & Cocoons. It follows two trends in the consumer world: that of extremes (bungee jumping) wherein we treat life like one grand adventure; and that of isolation (cocoons) wherein we’d just as well stay at home. The prime example I use for that is Barnes & Noble versus bn.com. Both sell books. One sells them via experiences and the other sells them via comfort. The second half of the book applies these same themes to industry.
My current book, The Missionary and the Brute, is an adult literary novel that spans genres of horror and suspense. It follows the case of a serial killer in Tanzania, East Africa, through the eyes of an American missionary accused of the crime. The idea for the book came to me on one of my many journeys to Tanzania as the founder/executive director of Brick by Brick for Tanzania!, Inc. (www.brickbybrickfortanzania.org), a tax-exempt non-profit that builds preschools in Africa. Having seen equal parts tragedy and beauty during my time in country, I fashioned a fast-paced, twist-around-every-corner mystery that draws the reader in as we head towards the stunning conclusion.
2. You’ve written in a variety of styles and media. Tell me about that.
I’m a pretty diverse guy. I feel like I live many lives in one and my writing styles reflect those ever-changing aspects. I played harmonica in a biker band for years, so it made sense that I fictionalized those experiences with my short stories in Easyriders Magazine. Having been a motion picture projectionist, I delved into cartoons and wrote my biography, an animation blog and a couple of screenplays for A Film A/S (a Danish animation studio). My journeys to Africa obviously infused “The Missionary and the Brute” with a realistic setting. All of my experiences have led me piece by piece to more experiences and more writing. The styles reflect that diversity.