Interview with Kenyon Kane – Ramona Portelli Blog

Kenyon Kane grew up in the San Fernando Valley north of Los Angeles, before there were freeways.  He worked for two US Cabinet Secretaries. His job was to complete financial transactions in the Soviet Union, Grenada and Northern Ireland.

Where were you born/grew up?

In the San Fernando Valley north of Los Angeles, before there were freeways. The Hollywood Freeway ended at Cahuenga Pass, there was no 405 Freeway and Ventura Boulevard ended at Sepulveda.

If you knew you’d die tomorrow, how would you spend your last day?

With my family, my wife and three boys.

What are you passionate about these days?

Social Justice which is why my book encompasses social impact entertainment.

Do you have a favorite movie? 

The Thin Red Line – James Jones – later a movie.

Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie?


Stuff about the Book: 

What inspired you to write this book?

Everyone involved in the assignment to Moscow is dead.

What can we expect from you in the future?

Next book – Belfast Brothers, about my assignment to Northern Ireland.

Do you have any “side stories” about the characters? 

V. Putin is a character in A USEFUL IDIOT.

How did you come up with the concept and characters for the book?

Based on real life people. 

Tell us about your main characters- what makes them tick? 

A USEFUL IDIOT is about Richard Hart, a self-centered materialist living in New York City married to a woman half his age, dining out every night at fancy restaurants and spending his weekends shopping with his wife at expensive stores like Bergdorf-Goodman, Henri Bendel and Gucci. Forced to take an assignment to Moscow, he winds up in an environment where money is worthless because there is nothing to buy, food is scarce and for the most part terrible and even drinking water is impossible to find at times. As he adjusts to his new environment he comes to find that his materialistic viewpoint is selfish, and in fact unnecessary to his happiness, and as he finds joy in the new friends and relationships he makes, he transforms towards the collective. But is it all a set-up by his partner in crime V. Putin? Is he just another Useful Idiot? As a counterpoint, while Hart is evolving in his social views toward the collective, his Soviet counterparts evolve toward capitalism because the free markets are coming to the Soviet Union and they all are going to need western currency to survive.

If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead? Tom Hanks

Anything specific you want to tell your readers? 

Choice lines from A USEFUL IDIOT:

  1. “everyone’s an atheist till it’s time to die.”
  2. Jesus told us: “I’ll say it again—it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” Matthew 19:25.

How did you come up with the name of this book?

It is a quote attributed to Lenin commenting on the assistance he was receiving from John Reed an American journalist – Ten days that Shook the World.

Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination? 

All real people.

Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story? Convince us why you feel your book is a must read. 

It is an historical account that gives the true picture of the Soviet Union in 1984 and dispels the misconceptions put out by American propaganda during the Reagan administration and before. It calls capitalism to account for the poverty and starvation throughout the world through the words of Jesus.

What did you edit out of this book?

About 30k words of real life experiences in Moscow that were interesting and environment building, but were not related to plot progression or character development.

Is there a writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?

James Jones – From Here to Eternity and the Thin Red Line because he wrote about his real life experiences during World War 2 with a thematic slant toward the disparity in justice between the officers and the “joes” who actually did the fighting and dying.

Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?

One at a time. Writing requires concentration and total immersion and I cannot do more than one novel at a time.

Pen or type writer or computer?


Tell us about a favorite character from a book

V. Putin because he was so different in 1984 than he is today. In 1984 he was struggling to survive in a dangerous environment.

Describe your writing style

First person, present tense with a goal to put the reader in the Novel.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

Two years.

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