...where every woman over 50 is TOP DOG!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Part II: "Approaching Neverland" Peggy Kennedy Interview

Approaching Neverland author Peggy Kennedy has been producing events in the San Francisco Bay Area for over 20 years, ranging from the Chinese New Year Parade to the Bay Bridge Celebration. She lives with her family in Northern California.

WOOF: Welcome, Peggy! Without giving away too much, because I encourage men and women of all ages to embrace for themselves your powerful memoir, Approaching Neverland, and its message, how were you able to even begin writing this book?

PK: So great to be with you, Diana! Writing our family’s story did indeed seem a daunting task. So I started with scenes from the past that were emotional hot buttons for me. Eventually, I was able to weave those scenes together, filling in details and dialogue. The interesting thing is that once I put myself back into a scene, I could hear in my head what my family members were saying.

WOOF: You’ve said that one reason you wrote your memoir was that you wanted readers to love your family, too. May I just say here and now, you had me at “Cannonball?” (Readers will just have to get the book to know what I mean!) Why was it important to you that others see your family through loving eyes?

PK: So often when we tell someone our story, they’re left with a shorthand version of the key people in our lives. I loved my family too much to have them forever remembered as “the bipolar mother” or “the murdered sister.” They were whole people with big personalities, humor and depth. I wanted readers to meet them, to know them as completely as possible, and love them.

WOOF: You’ve pretty thoroughly examined your formative and adult years, you’re a successful entrepreneur, wife and mother. What do you relish most about this time in your life, about being over fifty?

PK: I love that I’m now willing to fight for what I believe in. I make an effort to really enjoy my friends, family, and all the wonderful people that I’m lucky enough to meet. And I’m doing my best to grin as I hang on to this roller coaster we call life.

WOOF: In closing, I’d like to publically thank you, Peggy, for sharing your story. On a personal level, it’s helped me come to terms a bit more with my own childhood. As a tribute to both of our courageous mothers who instilled us with love in spite of their mental illness, I’m including their pictures. It seems so fitting that your mother, Barbara Jane Kennedy, (pictured left) and mine, Mary Elizabeth Richert, look so much alike!

And thank you, Peggy, for agreeing to this interview. Any parting thoughts for our WOOFer audience?

PK: Thanks so much, Diana. Talking with you has been a real pleasure. There’s no doubt in my mind that our mothers would have relished sitting down together for a cup of coffee and great conversation. You and I wouldn’t have gotten a word in edgewise! I would encourage all you WOOFers to write your own story. I’ll bet you’ll be amazed and gratified at where it takes you.

Interveiw with Diana Black

Approaching Neverland
A memoir of Epic Tragedy & Happily Ever After
By Peggy Kennedy
ISBN 978-1-4401-2613-0
iUniverse, 259 pages

WOOF for more stories about special women in our lives...


Diana Black said...

Hi, Peggy, I just left a comment on Part I, meant for Part II :>)

Basically what I wrote was this, do you think people can benefit from writing about their experiences (adult or childhood) for their eyes only. In other words, not necessarily for publication?


Eileen Williams said...

Hi Diana,

I'm back and am thrilled to read both your interview with the author and wonderful review of Peggy Kennedy's amazing book, Approaching Neverland.
I was lucky enough to know Peggy and her amazing family for more than fifty (yes, it's true!) years. Her story is so compelling and you write about it beautifully. I hope your readers head your advice and pick it up. Although the topic and style are different from WOOF, WOOFERs everywhere will see themselves in Peggy's richly woven memories of the fifties, sixties, and seventies.

Mary Cunningham said...

Great, thought-provoking interview. I can't wait to read the book!

As someone who also knew Diana's mom, I can appreciate your very interesting life, Peggy.

And, wow! Those look-alike pictures! Amazing!


Diana Black said...

Yes, Eileen, it's thanks to you that Peggy and I hooked up! Ready her experiences has really been theraputic for me. You think you reach an age and you're bound to have resolved all those childhood issues. Then something comes along to force you to look again...and to measure where you are on the healing scale.

Thanks to all who have commented, and to you, Peggy, for having such a neat friend in Eileen!


Anonymous said...

I so enjoyed reading Approaching Neverland! I, too, grew up in the San Francisco East Bay Area and this story of the author's family really struck a chord with me. The times were "simpler", but the challenges surely weren't--I really felt a part of this story from beginning to end.

Thanks to author Peggy Kennedy for drawing us into her family in this deeply personal book.

L. Crum
Oakland, CA

Peggy Kennedy said...

Hey Diana: I'm a firm believer in writing down your thoughts, especially about emotional experiences, whether you plan to share them or not. Writing makes you think things through and in some ways, forces you to work things out in order to make them flow on the page. To me, there's (almost) nothing more exciting than feeling like you really captured a memory with a perfect sentence or paragraph.

Peggy Kennedy said...

I couldn't ask for a more wonderful "sister-in-lit" than Eileen Williams. And I'm thrilled that through Eileen, I've been able to hook up with you, Diana! Your book, WOOF: Women Only Over Fifty was the perfect poolside read this past weekend in Las Vegas.

Diana Black said...

So glad you enjoyed Women Only Over Fifty, Peggy! Love the fact that both you and Eileen read it and could relate and appreciate the humor!

This thought just came: Do you journal? I did for years but just realized once I hit 50, I stopped. For me, I think it's because I began processing my thoughts and feeling through other types of writing.


Mary Cunningham said...


I second that about Eileen. Her support of writers and women over fifty is unwavering.

And, thanks for the nice comment on WOOF:Women Only Over Fifty!

Much appreciated.

Peggy Kennedy said...

Hi Mary (alias Milkbone :)

Loved your mammogram description! It made me laugh out loud on the plane.
You guys are great. Keep up the good work!

Peggy Kennedy said...

Hey Diana - Just read your question about journaling (is that a word?). Over the years, I've only written down my thoughts when I was going through an emotionally painful experience like dealing with my sister's murder or when I was in a major life transition. Re-reading these journal entries really helped me recreate those moments in the book.

Eileen Williams said...

Oh my! You've got me blushing and it isn't even a hot flash! I'm a huge fan of each of you and I'm blessed to have gotten to know you as friends.
Someday, Peggy and I might just have to take a trip East and make a play date with you both. We'll WOOF and howl, get feisty, and start approaching neverland as only ornery old broads can! :-)

Mary Cunningham said...

It's a date!!


Diana Black said...

Eileen & Peggy,

Just cleaned the guest room. When shall we expect you?!?!?

It WILL happen one day, I just know it.

Huge hugs,