Name Kenna Mary McKinnon
Where are you from
Born in 1944 in Toronto, ON, raised in the Peace River country of British Columbia. I moved to Calgary, Alberta when I was 17, and spent three years in Oklahoma City, OK with my new hubby in the mid-1960s. We moved back to Edmonton, Alberta in 1967 and I’ve lived here ever since. I consider myself an Albertan through and through, but firstly, a Canadian.
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
I’m the eldest of four children and was raised on a small family farm. I have a B.A. degree with distinction from the University of Alberta and many related courses since then. I have three wonderful children and three grandsons. I own my own medical transcription company, home-based, and am the sole proprietor since 1999. It’s my main means of support.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
My WIP has been submitted to Creativia. It’s called Engaging the Dragon and is a fantasy about a princess and a dragon, but that’s not all there is to it! I’ve recently come back from visiting friends in Phoenix, AZ and Palm Springs. Christmas was spent with my daughter in Port Moody, BC.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I began very early – when I was about five years old I was writing little stories and poems. I always wanted to be a writer. I’m not sure why, it seems innate, but my mother wrote articles and short stories for publication, and my family loved to read, so I was introduced to books and writing early on.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Probably when my first book was published by Imajin Books. SpaceHive.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
My roommate was stung by wasps in the backyard and had an anaphylactic reaction to the stings. I began to wonder what would happen if the wasps and bees were huge and alien. Thus SpaceHive was born.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
Probably, but I don’t know what it is. Less terse than Hemingway or some modern writers, but not extremely florid, either.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Den of Dark Angels is a collection of three novellas. Dark Angel is the name of one of the novellas, and the novellas all have a common theme of darkness and evil. So I toyed with different titles around the theme. Originally, I believe I called the collection by another title, but came up with this because it just seemed to fit.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Not really, it’s a fantasy/paranormal. I guess the message, if any, is that evil is not rewarded.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
None of it, really. It’s pretty much a matter of imagination. The male protagonists or antagonists are probably modeled on men I have known, and the females perhaps modeled on myself, but very loosely. That’s common with all my books.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
I don’t have a mentor but I would say a book called The Phoenix Factor published about forty years ago was instrumental in lighting the way out of a nasty divorce. I’ve been influenced by almost every book I’ve read, but that one was quite illuminating for me at the time. Rising from the ashes of a crisis. Cheryl Tardif, my first small press publisher, was a mentor to me at the time, and Rick Lauber, another author and co-publisher of a small magazine, published my first articles and encouraged me.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Authors I’ve met online have grasped my interest, such as Mari Collier, whom I’ve met twice in person; Gisela Hausmann, who writes a series of fascinating and succinct nonfiction eBooks called Naked Books; Nick Sweet, who wrote One Flesh and Bad in Bardino; Harry Porter, who wrote a really cool mystery about a band in the 1960s in Liverpool; Matthew Snee, whose books I have Beta read at times. Many authors, really, too many to mention. I don’t have a favorite author, though I do like Margaret Laurence, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, which I read decades ago, and only recently has it caught the public eye because it seemed prophetic. These authors write about strong women or at least, interesting women, and so I enjoy reading their stories. There’s a book about an erudite and dashing vampire/human called The Eternals by Richard Ankers which I very much enjoyed. I like to read modern books because they educate me on what’s in fashion and what has been trending in recent months, and the sort of language they use and themes. Also, I know many of the authors either personally or online.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
A former professor.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
No, not any more. I once saw writing as a career and planned to be a journalist when I was young, but that didn’t happen.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
My latest published book is Den of Dark Angels, and no, I wouldn’t change anything. I don’t look to the past. I look to what I’m doing now.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I think that was answered. My mother, an RN, dabbled in writing and our home was filled with books. I told stories to my siblings at bedtime and while going to school as far back as I can remember, and when I could print, I was composing simple poems and little stories.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
That would be Den of Dark Angels, as Engaging the Dragon is with the publisher at the present time. I’ll share a scene:
Ingrid rose early one morning and pulled on warm clothes to walk Fergie, her golden retriever, along the little park near her house. They paused at the bottom of a hill while the dog peed on a white shrouded shrub, then they continued to the banks of the Elbow River while Fergie rooted with its nose through the frozen vegetation at the side of the path. Ingrid gazed at the grey mist that swirled close to the bosom of the river. Unusual, the fog seemed alive. It crept closer. She remained rooted to the frozen earth while the dog snuffled in the ground and seemed oblivious to the mist.
There was something behind the swirling fantastic grey pattern, though it was almost opaque. It seemed stopped by the snowbound banks and then pushed upward, closer to Ingrid and the dog. She stood, motionless.
A voice boomed from the fog. “Ay, mate. Ahoy, you little wench.” Then a long hollow bellow of mirth.
Nobody talked like that anymore. “Who are you?” Ingrid called. The fog swirled closer, up the edges of the river, over the frozen white shrubbery, pressing the blood from Ingrid’s extremities, from her vital organs, icy tentacles touching her brain, stomach a block of frozen stone.
“It’s Valdemar of Harlaem come back to find my Madeline.”
Ingrid recognized the familiar names from literature. “Madeline of the House of Usher?”
“Ay, mate, one and the same. Come back to find her there in the House of Usher.”
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Not in my writing, but as part of writing, I find promotion and marketing very challenging. I’m just not very good at it and it doesn’t interest me, however, recently I’ve begun to do more and learn more about it. It can be fun and very rewarding.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
No, I incorporate my travels into my books at times, but I don’t have to travel much to write. I research in life no matter where I am and can learn from anyone and any place.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Creativia designed the cover of Den of Dark Angels. A graphic designer named Ryan Doan designed the cover of SpaceHive.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
It wasn’t difficult but the hardest part, I think, was keeping track of the word count so that it was sufficient to be called a novel. I finally realized the books were going to be novellas, and at the suggestion of my former publisher, Cheryl Tardif, I incorporated them into a collection of three novellas, with a common theme. I think that was good advice.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learn something from every book I write. This one received a review from a UK reader who found it hilarious, and an American reader found it dark, dark, dark. So, I realized that UK readers have a different sense of humor than American readers, which I found out when I read a book by a UK author. I didn’t think it was funny, but her UK readers obviously thought it was. The British have a very dry and quirky sense of humor, I find. So, I thought from the reaction of my American readers that perhaps my paranormal writing was too serious for them.
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead
Jack Nicholson as a male lead. Kathy Bates as a female lead.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Write what you love, and listen to advice, don’t take yourself too seriously, but in the end, listen to your heart and write not what you know but what you would love to know.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I would like to suggest that if a reader takes the time to read my books it would be appreciated if they left a review. Any review that’s honest, but authors love reviews.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Right now, I’m reading one of Gisela Hausmann’s Naked Truth books, more than one, actually. I’m trying to become a better promoter and also get more book reviews. Gisela is one of my favorite nonfiction authors, if I didn’t mention that before. She also wrote an excellent Naked Truth book about writing emails, which I’ve taken to heart but don’t always follow! Bad Kenna.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Grimm’s Fairy Tales, and A Child’s Garden of Verse by Robert Louis Stevenson.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I don’t cry easily. I laugh easily at a variety of events and issues. I like the really ridiculous irony of most of humanity. I think their Creator had a sense of humor.
Fiona: Is there one person past or present you would meet and why?
I think I’d like to meet Gertrude Stein but she would scare the heck out of me because she was just so very clever and biting. I would learn a lot from her philosophy of life, although her writing is a bit beyond my comprehension. I don’t really enjoy it. I’d really like to meet Dorothy Parker because she was funny and very bright. I could learn a lot from these two women, both authors, and I think we could have a great and exhilarating conversation, if they didn’t ride roughshod over me as a lesser being.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
That’s up to my daughter. I don’t care what’s written on my headstone.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
Yes, fitness and health, cooking, music and I’m trying to learn to play my guitar and also djembe drums, I walk a lot, I draw caricatures and make my own greeting cards at times, reading of course, entertaining friends, and watching marathons of movies on Netflix.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I don’t have TV channels but I do enjoy Netflix and the latest movies at times. I like science fiction such as Star Trek Voyager, and also documentaries, especially nature documentaries with David Attenborough, action films, and anything with Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, or Judy Dench. I recently watched The Godfather for the first time! Enjoyed it very much. I liked Lion from last year, La La Land, Dr. Strange, The Accountant, and Hidden Figures in particular.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Good sourdough rye crusty bread, tomato sandwiches with mayo, pasta if it’s different and presented artistically, Cobb salads, homemade soups, Middle Eastern food. Blue is my favorite color. Any type of music but especially folk, old time rock and roll, drums (African or Japanese), and classical guitar such as Leona Boyd.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I’d have liked to have been an archaeologist. I have an undergraduate degree in Anthropology and planned at the time to get a PhD and continue with research and writing in that field.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
These are links to my books:
This is a link to my Amazon author page:
Thank you for the interview, Fiona. It’s been fun and I look forward to “talking” to you again!