Kacey Kowars . . .
Nothing done with passion is a waste of time.
That is what I have come to learn over the past twenty
years of my life, which as of this writing, is going on
forty-eight years. I am the age where I
can see the road ahead of me more clearly than I could
in the past.
That road has always been lined with books. Books
everywhere. As a child the road was filled with comic
books: Superman, Batman, The Fantastic Four, and the
Archie series (all of them; I still remember their names,
Archie, Betty, Veronica, Jughead, Moose).
books gave way to adventure stories like KON-TIKI,
written by Thor Heyerdahl, and books
written about other people I admired. I did not know
these books had a name, biographies, I only knew I loved
came high school and college, and I began reading what
my teachers and professors told
me to read. I read voraciously. I remember discovering
Kurt Vonnegut's work while a student at Ohio State
University. I remember Vonnegut because he spoke to me
through his heart, and I heard what he was saying.
admired the work of all the writers I was told to read,
I was just too young to understand them. At twenty
I was unable to understand the genius of
that came much later, when I was in my forties.
college I became a stockbroker, the job I still do
today. I read business books after college
and spent long hours learning my profession. I also
drank a lot, too much. On January 10,
1984 I had my last drink. I began reading again, though
this time I got to choose the books.
One of the first books I read on this new road was THE
TIMES ARE NEVER SO BAD by Andre
Dubus. I will never forget how I felt after reading
this book by Dubus. I was stunned; I felt as though he
had followed me around while I was not looking, seeing
all of my flaws and insecurities. He also saw my
I wrote Dubus a letter, never expecting a reply.
I had never done that before. On February 5,
1985 I returned home from work to find a solitary
envelope in my mailbox. It was from Andre
Dubus, a three-page hand-written letter. This letter
changed my life.
the first time I
realized the power of the written word; began to
understand the art of writing, and the art of reading.
The road I was traveling became slightly more in focus
and the books began to pile up a bit more than they had
in the past.
In 1986 I met Otto
Penzler, the proprietor of The Mysterious Bookshop.
His store, located
at 129 W. 56th St. in Manhattan, is a Mecca for mystery
lovers. I clearly recall the
day I climbed the spiral-staircase to the second floor
of The Mysterious Bookshop.
The walls were filled floor-to-ceiling with books, most
of them hardcover first editions. Sitting behind the
desk was a friendly bearded man who introduced himself
as Otto Penzler. Otto introduced me to the work of
writers I had never heard of; Ross Macdonald, Ross
Thomas, Elmore Leonard and James Crumley, to name a
the years Otto has become my mentor in both mystery
fiction and collecting first editions. In recent years
he has handed me the first novels of Dennis Lehane and
remember the day he handed me THE MONKEY'S RAINCOAT by
Robert Crais. "Read this," he said. I was
surprised that it was a paperback. I bought it and read
it. It was wonderful. I believe Otto knows more about
mysteries than anyone in the world. He has, and
continues to be, a great help to me in developing my
I stated before that reading is an art. I believe
that. Knowing how to read a book takes time,
and I am still learning how to read books. I have read
thousands of them, yet my understanding
of the reading process continues to develop and
is made of writing
in our modern world; everyone wants to write a book. Why
not? It is a worthwhile and
wonderful thing to do.
I highly recommend that everyone do it.
trying to write a
book without learning how to read a book is like trying
to make the Olympic swim team after swimming competitively
in high school.
the craft of writing takes a long time. It is an
evolutionary process that never ends.
Reading is a critical part of learning the craft. Too
many writers rush their work into
publication, then give up when the rejection letters
start filling their mailboxes.
Getting a book published takes not only
talent, it takes time. I have written three books
that were never published. They sit in my drawer
A couple of years ago I would have told you that writing
these books was a waste of
time. I spent countless hours writing and doing research
to make these books the best books
I could write. I found agents and came close, but none
of them were published.
one day I came up with an idea, one that had been
lurking in the back of my mind
for years. Why not take the skills I had as a reader and
use them to interview authors? The road became more visible,
the piles of books began growing larger.
decided to use the internet as the initial method of
distributing what has become The Kacey Kowars show,
www.kaceykowars.com. I found an editor, Chuck Adkins,
who is an integral part of what I do. I met a webmaster,
Marilyn Knapp Litt, who does Tim O'Brien's website.
I spent a week at The Sewanee Writer's Conference in
July, 2004 doing my initial interviews. The stage was
I knew that I needed a strong line-up to attract
listeners. Time is a precious commodity in
today's world. My interviews last between thirty to
forty-five minutes. I aired my first interview
on August 7, 2004. My first guest was Andre Dubus lll,
the author of HOUSE OF
SAND AND FOG.
agreed to be my first guest because of my relationship
father, and because he saw that I was trying to promote
the reading of good literature; in
his words, "a holy word". I will be eternally
grateful to Andre, and his father, for helping me
out when I needed it.
O'Brien was my second guest. My weekly interviews caught
on and the road I was travelling on rolled out in front
of me. Forget about the books along the road, they have now
taken over one lane of the highway, and I could not be
happier that they are there.
would also like to thank my parents for encouraging me
to read. They always gave me the
money to buy comic books, and when I was old enough they
got me a library card.