Others in these pages have written about Davis resident Dan Kennedy, the publisher of the Sacramento Business Journal, as a foodie.
“I’m a pretty good cook,” admits Kennedy.
But he also is a writer, author of “The Cooking School at Z,” a novel about an American couple that opens a cooking school in Zihuatanejo, Mexico.
“I’ve been a journalist for 25 years,” said Kennedy in a recent interview. “I like to write. Some people say writing is agonizing, but I enjoy it.”
So Kennedy combined all sorts of interests in his first novel. He and his wife, Diane, have a strong relationship. Kennedy says he’s been in love with her since they were in first grade in Teaneck, N.J.
And they both love Mexico. They have traveled to Zihuatanejo every year for the past seven years and don’t want to stop making their annual pilgrimage.
And they love Mexican food. So he wrote a love story set in Mexico that features food.
“It took me a year to write,” he said. “I conceptualized it sitting on a terrace in Mexico. And I told myself that I could do it in a year.”
He wrote 90,000 words – that’s about 300 book pages – at night and on weekends when he wasn’t at the Business Journal or teaching at the Graduate School of Management or recording his radio spot on KXJZ.
“Typically I’d write three evenings a week from 7:30 to 10 p.m.,” he said. “And sometimes I’d work on Saturday mornings from about 7 a.m. to noon.”
Kennedy said he can work at home because all three of his children are grown.
“We came here in 1983 and raised three kids,” he added.
But even though Kennedy earned a master’s degree in literature at the University of Toronto in 1970, he wanted some real-time help and advice as he wrote “The Cooking School at Z.”
He turned to Karen Joy Fowler’s writing group.
“I sent them a sample of my work and they were kind enough to accept me,” said Kennedy.
The writing group worked over the material he brought in.
“It was extremely useful to find out in a workshop environment what worked and what didn’t,” he said. “It was just invaluable.”
And within the year he had his book done.
Being a professional publisher, he wasn’t intimidated by the next step in the process, either. He had his book printed and published in Mexico City. And the artwork for the book’s front cover was undertaken by a special person – his daughter, Jane.
Kennedy published about 1,100 copies of the book and is working on ideas for a sequel.
In the meantime, his book is selling well.
He is particularly interested in book sales in the town of Zihuatanejo since all proceeds from book sales in Mexico go to scholarships for local women to one of three technical schools.
Kennedy said it was important for him to give back to the Mexican town that has given him so much.
“I didn’t feel particularly good about being an American with means making money off it,” he said.
So he’s delighted that sales in Mexico have borne fruit.
“Our first scholarship student begins school this fall, funded entirely by past book sales,” he said.
He also thinks that interest in the book will likely last for a long time in Mexico, much longer than it will last up here.
“In Mexico it will live for years,” he said. That’s because no one has written about Zihuatanejo before, no one has put it in context, even though it’s becoming a sought-after destination by the rich and famous and is the oldest port city in the poorest state in the country.
“This was enormous fun to write,” he added. The book costs $15 and is available on line or at local bookstores. It also is being sold at the Sacramento airport.
“People say it’s a fabulous airplane read and I don’t mind at all,” Kennedy added. “They mean it takes you into another world. It’s fairly literary but it moves.”
-- Reach Elisabeth Sherwin at firstname.lastname@example.org and watch for more local writers to be featured biweekly at this web site.
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