Wednesday, August 30, 2017

SUMMER OF '60



With summer drawing to a close, I'd like to thank all the readers who have enjoyed my newest novels, THE MUTUAL ADMIRATION SOCIETY and LAND OF A HUNDRED WONDERS.

And for those of you who are wondering what I'm working on now, here's a little bit of SUMMER OF '60.

                                             


            I will never forget the sound Frankie’s leg made when it snapped in two.
            She didn’t blame me at the time and, to the best of my knowledge, still doesn’t. But a part of me has never forgiven myself for instigating what happened that night in the woods. Then again . . . if Frankie hadn’t thrown herself down from the highest branch of the oak she and Viv were hiding in, she wouldn’t have received all the attention she did for saving my life and I wouldn’t have lived to tell the tale.
But not everybody considers the events that unfolded in Summit during that long ago summer with as much guilt, or gratitude, that I do. Whenever it comes up in conversation, someone not old enough to know any better is bound to pipe in, “No use bringing all that up again. What’s done is done.” But there will come a time when they too will understand that not all that is over is past. And when memories do resurrect, they don’t ask permission to do so.
All it takes is a gentle wind stirring the leafy boughs of an oak or a dog barking on a full moon night or the scent of sweat to bring back the press of cool steel on my skin and the sound of Frankie’s femur cracking in half. The stitches left an ugly, raised scar on my neck, and she walks with a limp when it rains, and poor Viv. Though not bodily injured the way Frankie and I were that night, her spirit was more than a little broken.
No. As much as we might wish the border between then and now was less like a cobweb
and more like a brick wall, as my lifelong friends and I sit on the front porch of our Honeywell Street house on another summer evening decades later . . . the past is present. We never forget the summer of ’60. The summer that evil paid a visit to our small town and took our live as we knew them as a souvenir.


                                                                    Chapter One



Oh, the horror of it all.
Wild-haired hypnotists mesmerizing us to do their bidding, werewolves sinking their yellow fangs into our sunburned necks, and “little green men” or the “Commies” dropping out of the sky to enslave us not only seemed possible back then, but just a matter of time. Every day felt like anything-can-happen day and our nights were filled with things that went boo.
Why my best friends and I loved nothing more than getting the hell scared of out of us every Saturday afternoon at the Rivoli Theatre in downtown Summit or in the evenings at the Starlight Drive-In on the edge of town still remains a mystery to me, but we spent most of our childhood covered in goose bumps and jumping out of our skins.
The giant radiated ants from Them! sounded an awful lot like cicadas, and the three of us never looked at a full moon the same way after we saw The Wolfman. And for a few months after we’d seen The Fly, we couldn’t spot one without saying, “Heeelp me . . . please, heeelp me.” But it was The Tingler that almost did us in. Unbeknownst to us, Mr. Willis, the owner of the Rivoli Theatre, had fastened a vibrating device called the Percepto! beneath the red velvet seats that was activated during certain scenes in the movie to make it feel like the parasite had wormed its way into our spines and we ran out of the theatre’s Emergency Exit screaming.
But to the best of my recollection, which, if I do so say myself, remains remarkably sharp
for a gal on the dusky side of her sixties, in reality, other than the soaping of Main Street shop
windows every Halloween Eve by boys being boys, a reclusive woman the kids in town believed to be tending a bubbling cauldron in her cellar, the occasional escaped patient found wandering around town or the woods abutting Broadhurst mental institution, and Granny Cleary, nothing too frightening or out of the ordinary occurred in Summit—a town judged so ho hum by a popular Wisconsin travel brochure that the Points of Interest section was left blank—before the record-breaking heat showed up that Memorial Day like a harbinger of the horrifying things to come.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

LAND OF A HUNDRED WONDERS


Land of a Hundred Wonders by [Kagen, Lesley]

A love story that's near and dear to my heart. Here's what it's about:

Brain damaged after a tragic car accident that took both her parents, Gibby McGraw is now NQR (Not Quite Right), a real challenge for a fledgling newspaper reporter. Especially when she stumbles upon the dead body of the next governor of Kentucky, Buster Malloy.

Armed with her trusty spiral note-book and accompanied by her dog, Keeper, Gibby figures that solving the murder of Buster Malloy might be her best chance to prove to everyone that she can become Quite Right again. But she gets more than she bargained for when she uncovers a world of corruption, racism, and family secrets in small town Shorewood. Luckily, she's also about to discover that some things are far more important than all the brains in the world, and that miracles occur in the most unexpected moments.

You can pick it up at Amazon. And if you love it, which, of course, I sure hope you do, you'll do me the kindness of leaving a glowing review. 

https://www.amazon.com/Land-Hundred-Wonders-Lesley-Kagen-ebook/dp/B071D7VW8V/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1493223631&sr=1-1&keywords=land+of+a+hundred+wonders


Sunday, April 23, 2017

HAPPY 10th BIRTHDAY WHISTLING IN THE DARK!


Wow. Just wow. After 156 rejections for representation, scores of "passes" by publishers, against all odds . . . my debut novel became a New York Times bestseller now in its 17th printing. This is so profoundly moving to me, there are no words.





 Whistling in the Dark

Saturday, February 4, 2017

A HEARTBREAKER


When I sat down to write The Mutual Admiration Society it was with the same intent that I bring to all my stories. In this case, it was my desire to tell the tale of two young girls. Sisters. Kids, who only have each other, or perceive that to be the truth, on a journey that seems to be too much to deal with at such a tender age. The loss of their beloved father, and in many ways, much of their life as they knew it. 

I wanted to write about how deeply resourceful children can be. How imaginative and flat-out funny, and loyal. I wanted the girls' story to feel authentic, symptomatic, and yes, out-of-the-box, because loss it like that. We all experience it to greater and lesser degrees, maybe at the same time, but not together. Grief is a solo trip. A deep sense of abandonment, I wanted to write about that, too, and the guilt one feels when we lose our dearest ones. And, of course, there needed to be a mystery, because dealing with death is so profound and hard, that often it feels unsolvable. In The Mutual Admiration Society there are many internal forces of darkness churning within narrator, Tessie, but the external force is personified by an evil next door neighbor. And a cemetery is always a wonderful setting,  and a handy metaphor. And God . . . where is He in all this? I wondered.

I wanted to write this book. And I love it. I hoped others would love it as well, or else find within its pages something that resonated with them. And if they didn't, they'd continue searching for another story that does touch them. Turns out, there are those that don't really care for my new book, no, let's call a spade a spade. They say they despise it. One reader said that it "nauseated" her. This deep down hurts. Not because it makes me doubt my writing, myself, or the story and my intentions, but because the very idea that there are people whose only intention is to harm the sale of my book by eviscerating it in reviews stretches the limits of my imagination and my belief system beyond the bounce-back factor. 

And the well-intentioned telling me,"Suck it up, buttercup," or "Hey, them's the breaks," and other equally silly cliches, does not cut the mustard. Maybe earlier in my life they would have inspired me in some odd way, but no longer. I have spent most of my working life in the public eye, fifty years of it anyway, which has always made the way I make my living a target, but never before has my acting or writing been subjected to the sheer intentional ugliness that appears to have become the norm these days. How sad that is. For me, sure, but mostly for those that believe the only way to feel good and powerful, even for just a little bit, is to spend their time crafting hate-filled reviews not only of my book, but other books, movies, television shows, art, restaurants, and other types of endeavors that require a profound commitment of heart and soul, many times without commensurate remuneration.  

A believer in humor, knowing it's the only hope that I, or any of us, have to transcend pains, be they large or small, I'd usually stick a wry smile on my face, shrug, and make a joke right about now. But this morning . . . I got nothing. Which is the saddest bit of all.

  

Monday, January 23, 2017

ALWAYS FUN

THE MUTUAL ADMIRATION SOCIETY launch party is right around the corner. Wednesday, February 1, 7:00 pm at Boswell Bookshop in Milwaukee. Be there or be square. 
Image may contain: 1 person, smiling

Sunday, January 22, 2017

WARNING!


I've decided that rather than featuring quotes from other writers on the front covers of books, in order to cut down on confusion, they should come with a warning label. Here's the caveat emptor THE MUTUAL ADMIRATION SOCIETY would have slapped on the front cover:

Potential Reader: This novel is written for those above average intelligence who enjoy child narrators, possess a sense of humor, can fathom the sweetness of young love, are not offended by swearing, and understand at least a little about the complexities of children's psyches. If you do not possess these qualities, kindly keep moving to another section of the store, where you will find a wide selection of other books that might better meet your needs.