Devyn Kennedy is a writer and chef living in Ohio. They are surrounded by books, coffee, and cats. They enjoy spending their time surrounded by laughter and when not sweating in the kitchen or hunched over their desk, they can be found drinking their seventh cup of coffee or tea and reading a book.
1.Why storytelling? What made you yearn to tell a good story, and how long was this story within you before it came out?
Why Storytelling? I think because, on one level, it was the way I found I could make sense of the world. I, like a lot of people in my life, have had to deal with poor mental health and that has been exacerbated by circumstance and events in the world. And storytelling helps me to reorganize those thoughts and feelings. To take the darkness and to find some kind of hope in it, or to imagine ways in which we can better the world and ourselves. But also, on a lighter note, it feels good.
2.Without giving any spoilers, what is your favorite thing about this book?
As for this book. It started out as a short story and I realized it was not a short story, that these characters and this setting had more secrets to tell than what I could put down to ten pages.
3.If I were stuck in a room with your main character, what would we be doing?
If Lukas and I were stuck in a room together I imagine we would be drinking expensive wine, cursing with all the passion and fervor of a seasoned sailor, and planning to rob some well-off jerk blind. It’d be a grand old time.
4.Everyone has at least one specific challenge that holds them back. What is that challenge in your work and how do you overcome it?
For me, as far as challenges, I think staying focused on one story, or one thing in general, at a time, is hard. My head buzzes with a thousand ideas and some of them whisper and some of them shout. I blame working as a chef. Having to keep track of and multi-task so much make it hard. So, for me, I just have to sit down at the computer and sort of work myself up to it. I usually follow the John Green approach where I let the anxiety build into I crank out most of any given project in a marathon stretch. It isn’t entirely healthy, but it works.
5.You’re going to go back and visit yourself when you first started writing, at whatever age it was, and you can give yourself one piece of advice. What would it be?
When I first started writing I was really young. Like, twelve. So, if I could go back in time to meet myself I would probably give myself the advice to read more. Because, thinking back on how I wrote back then, I just clearly had no understanding of how to set a scene. I mean, I actually thought that writing was just dialogue. No prose, not even quotation. So, I think if I had read more I might have had a better idea of how writing a book works.
6.If you could choose any other writer, living or dead, to be your mentor, whom would you choose and why?
I actually have two answers for this. I think living it would be Neil Gaiman. His works are engaging, witty, dark, provocative. I could honestly talk about the things he does that bring me joy forever. And every book he’s written has been a joy to read. I am jealous of his style, I won’t lie. But I think, the great Ursula K. Le Guin is another that I would love to have a mentor. Her passing was a great heartbreak for me, as well as many others. Her ability to imagine different societies and cultures and write about them with compassion and depth is admirable. Truly a great loss to the writing world and someone I hope to continue to learn from and be inspired by.
7.What are the things you’re most proud of in this book?
The thing I’m most proud of, I think, is that this book has everything I want in it. That may sound cheap but I really wanted this to be a book that was a little fun and boisterous but that has the layer of seeing these flashes of exploitation and power structures and how they shape us. And to show how these things encourage us and reward us to work within the system or create systems like it to survive. And that’s something I think I achieved to the best of my abilities.
8.What element of this story can we expect in your future work?
Building on what I said earlier, a reader can expect me to explore the human condition and experience in relation to power structures and the societies we live in. But I also hope to be able to portray hope and courageousness in spite of what may seem like an indifferent and faceless enemy.
9.Do you have a celebration that you embark on when you finish a book, be it a release party, a trophy, or even a shot of whiskey?
Typically, I have a nice glass of something extremely alcoholic and continue having nice glasses until the glass is gone. Most times this is with close friend and families which feels really good. I also listen to this song, Push the Sky away, by Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds. Which is all about pushing forward and continuing on even when you’ve done everything you wanted and have what you wanted. I find that that helps me push forward and stay grounded.
10.Do you share any vices or habits with any characters in your book? If so, what are they?
Drinking is one. My characters tend to share a drink whenever they can and I do much the same. And cluttering my workspace with books and old used coffee cups.
11.Do you have any regrets about the story you told? Would you make any changes to its telling or did you capture exactly what you were looking for?
I think regrets are sort of part of the deal. Because you keep writing and reading and growing as a person and an artist. So, right now, I think Tawdry Petticoats is about as good as I can make it. A year and another book from now? I’ll probably look back and say, “Oh, well, yes, this part is a bit shit.”
But I think it is solid. I think I did what I could do with it where I’m at now and I love these characters and this setting. So I am proud of it.
12.The audio book sector is exploding right now. Have you been listening? If so, can you recommend an audio book to us?
I would really like to do an audiobook. I have listened to some audio story podcasts, like radio dramas but modern. And I’m really into what is going in that scene. I may dip my toe at some point. And as far as a reader I think I’d be really into doing it with some close friends and making it a fun little experience.
The audiobook I’m listening to now and finishing up is Farewell, My Lovely. It is a detective noir book and it is stylish as hell. I recommend it highly.
13.Now that you have published your first book, do you have any dreams you have not reached? Goals for new books, series beyond this publication, or anything else that can tantalize the fantasy public?
So, my current project is a short story collection called All You Pretty Things that I’ll be releasing as soon as I can. After that, I have an untitled book I’ve been working on that I need to do some work on. My plans beyond those two things are sort of up in the air. I do plan, at some point, to write a sequel to Tawdry Petticoats but I’m unsure of what that will entail at this time. Just know that if you love these characters, you will see more from them!
Find Devyn Kennedy online:
Their book, Tawdry Petticoats, can be bought at this link: https://bookgoodies.com/a/1071154036