Behind the Scenes Q&A with SpeakEasy Author C R Kennedy

SpeakEasy Author Interview with C R Kennedy

Each week, the library is publishing a new chapter in our 2013 Community Novel Project and sharing a behind-the-scenes interview with the Topeka author who brought that part of our collaborative story — SpeakEasy — to life.

Read C R Kennedy’s Chapter 2 online.

Why did you want to participate in the Community Novel Project?

I love the idea of one writer putting their hard work and personal touch into a story and then letting go, hoping the next writer will pick up on those story visions and characters aspirations, but accepting that it might not happen. It’s exciting to follow the path the story takes after it leaves your hands, and thrilling when someone down the line decides to nurture a seed that you planted, and you get to watch it grow in a way you never imagined.

What do you like about the premise and characters of this year’s Community Novel Project Speak Easy? What challenges you about them?

I write vintage stories so I was excited that part of the premise is based on historical happenings in Kansas during the early twentieth century. The time period of tolerance, prohibition, and the depression is ripe for mystery, excitement, and deep human conflict—all elements for a great story. Ronni Long is young and ambitious, and I’ll be very excited to see how she grows and how the similarities and differences of her life compared to Julia Stanford’s come to play. Julia has led such a full, rich life, and I can’t wait to learn more about her secrets and adventures. But honestly, at the moment, my favorite character is Pete. I see in him so much energy, passion, and a zest for life. I see him as a catalyst for enlivening both Ronni and Julia.

What do you hope happens or doesn’t happen in the chapters that come after yours?

I hope Ronni and Pete fall madly in love. I hope Julia has one last exciting adventure in her life, hopefully far from the confines of the retirement community. I hope Julia discovers the truth about how Billy the Bootlegger died, and is able to let go of any guilt that she’s been burdened with for over seventy years.

How did you write your chapter – in a burst of inspiration or carefully outlined?

To tell the truth, I rarely outline anything. I guess I’m more of a “burst of inspiration” writer. I just take off with the characters and let them introduce themselves to me. I try to follow them closely and listen to who they really are as I put them in situations, or as they go there themselves. I tried writing an outline once—big waste of time. The characters had their own ideas about what they wanted to do, and their designs were much better than mine.

What have you learned about writing fiction from participating in this project?

That we’re all so different, and our imaginations are unique. What a blessing! The world would be so dull if we all thought the same.

C R Kennedy is a graduate of Kansas State University where she majored in finance and accounting. Her passion for creativity and the Hollywood silver screen sparked her career drive to write vintage and modern-day romance and mystery stories. She lives in Topeka and is an active member of Kansas Writers Inc. and The Blackbird Writing Group. C R has several works in progress and available stories can be found at


Lissa Staley

Lissa Staley helps people use the library. She is a Book Evangelist, Health Information Librarian, Trivia Emcee, Classics Made Modern book group leader, NaNoWriMo Municipal Liaison, Community Novel Project leader, HUSH podcaster, and frequent library customer. She reads a new book every few days, but recently enjoyed Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley.