Interview with William Kemsley, Jr

What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest book is a novel about an only son of tycoon father. I wrote it as spiritual exercise. It was triggered by an incident i witnessed. But I literally prayed daily for God to tell me what to write that day. The image of Johannes Bach came to mind, of how he prayed that way when he began composing any piece then wrote what came to mind. I was trying that with this book. And it changed completely as the writing progressed. It even changed a good deal after the first draft was completed.

Looking back I can see that it is allegorically the story of my relationship with my own father, how I've struggled over my entire life to be my own man, not what he wanted me to be.
What do your fans mean to you?
I had numerous fans when I published my magazine. And I loved reading their letters to the editor. I would take fresh stacks home and stay up late reading them. It gave me a lot of information about my readers' interests and passions and was one reason why the magazine was immediately successful.
What are you working on next?
I'm taking a break from fresh writing and preparing all of my manuscripts to publish on Smashwords that have been laying dormant. For the past twenty years I've been living in retirement and writing what most attracted my interests. Only one of the many books I have written has seen light in traditional publishing. So, I am cleaning up these old manuscripts and publishing them. Right now I am editing one which had two significant bites from mainline publishers, but no cigar. I like it. I think it is good. But, of course, writers always find ways of improving whatever it is they've written. And I'm only on chapter 7 in my edits and realize I have to do some major work on the opening or no one will get past ho-hum when they read it;
Who are your favorite authors?
This is a tough question for me, for I am a nineteenth century reader. My favorite author is Dostoevsky. I used to be a big fan of Hemingway. And still love his economy of words. Since his suicide his aura has faded a good deal. However, I must say, Sun Also Rises and For Whom the Bell Tolls are still high with me. I also like Joseph Conrad, especially Lord Jim and Billy Budd. And of course Melville.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
The outdoors. I live in a cabin in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains where I cannot see any other evidence of human beings. We are surrounded by pine and juniper trees, and have an open vista of Rocky Mountain peaks to the north of us. It is my lifelong dream to live in such an ideal place.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Hiking, chatting with my wife, watching great movies from Netflix.
What is your writing process?
I try to write something every day, regardless of how little it might be. Usually I am working at my writing for five to six hours a day, seven days a week. I start each day reading and rewriting what I wrote the day before, then carry on with the next portion. If I have written 500 to 1,000 new words for the day I feel I've done well.
Tell us why you wrote Peter Maurin: Saintly Founder of the Catholic Worker, your first book published by Smashwords?
It's a novel about Peter, who was a person my father admired. Since my father's career as a union organizer was devoted to raising industrial workers out of poverty, it was an anomaly that he would so admire a man like Peter who chose to live in poverty as a homeless man in Paris and New York. This seemed bizarre to me, why anyone would willingly work without paycheck, accepting only food or lodging in return.

One reason,I write to find out more about things, than I can from reading about them. So, I made a project of finding out about him. I read all the books I could about his life. Then, I visited the places Peter had been associated with in New York City where I lived -- the soup kitchens, houses of hospitality for the homeless, places like Union Square where Peter preached to whomever would listen to his message of "personalism."

I traveled around France, to Peter's birthplace in the Tarn Valley, where I found his uncle and aunts. I visited the church where he was Baptized and attended with his family. I hiked the hills and forests Peter had during his childhood, strolled the farmlands he worked on as a boy. I explored the school and the classroom where Peter was educated in Mende in central France, s well as the cathedral where he attended daily mass during his student years. I visited his haunts in Paris, especially the sanctuary and mammoth meeting room in Sacré-Cœur Basilica on Montmartre, where he spent such significant time.

I knew from the start there would be very few who would share my interest in Peter Maurin, so I wrote it for my own edification, and didn't look for a publisher. I finished it in 1990 and in subsequent years there were two different publishers who chose to publish it. However, in time each met with financial or health issues and backed out of their commitments. One of these publishers though, had put my manuscript through the editing and proofing process before canceling its commitment. Thus, when I heard about Smashwords, it was simple to format it for publication as an ebook. That was back in 2010. I've since updated it and re-published it in 2015. Despite having done nothing to help market it, it has sold a few copies.

My reward was learning about a fascinating spiritual being and the joy of putting my thoughts about him into words.
Published 2015-03-21.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Harry's Kerouac and Dostoevsky
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 8,240. Language: English. Published: April 10, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Literature » Literary, Fiction » Humor & comedy » General
Why is a middle-aged man driving a Corvette with a license plate JKEROUAC? He doesn’t want the memory of the Beat Generation author forgotten. He reminisces about some of his favorite author’s books, particularly on the incongruity of the Beatnik’s take on Dostoevsky.
Joe Blaylock: Alcoholic preacher
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 18,710. Language: English. Published: April 1, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Christian » Contemporary
An itinerant preacher succumbs to alcohol and drug addiction searches for healing.
Fleeing a Fearsome Father
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 66,630. Language: English. Published: June 1, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Adventure » Men’s adventure, Fiction » Literature » Literary
Malcolm Barrett, an only son of a shipping tycoon, tries different career options to flee his father's shadow.
Peter Maurin: Saintly Founder of the Catholic Worker
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 59,490. Language: English. Published: May 15, 2010. Categories: Fiction » Christian » Historical
A spiritual biographical novel based on the life of the founder of the Catholic Worker movement. The noveltells factual details of Maurin's life with author's speculation on some of the thoughts and feelings of this great man. Maurin gave up earning a living. He did any kind of work, but accepted no wages, only food or bed in return.