Memoir, Local History and Nostalgia, Children's Books
Genny Zak Kieley
The Northeast book series of Heart and Hard Work, Pride and Tradition, and Roots and Ties began in 1997 when Heart and Hard Work was introduced at Kramarczyk’s Meat Market. It caused a commotion on the busiest meat buying day of the year when the little Grandma dressed in a chiffon apron cried out, “My bread won’t rise!” Listed on the front page of the Star Tribune and featured on Channel 2 Newsnight with Cathy Wurzer, it sold out in two months.
Book number four for Genny, Green Stamps to Hot Pants: Growing up in the 50s & 60s, was featured on Channel 2--Tpt.org as a fund raising promotion with Don Shelby and has sold more than Heart and Hard Work. It started out with quirky collections of home permanent rollers, Melmac dishes, a book of S & H green stamps and Janet Lennon paper dolls.
The latest book, Baitstore Angel and Other Stories was written over 25 years in between the books Genny has written. Most of the stories are about growing up in a large family in an old fashioned neighborhood and then moving out to the suburbs with a wild and crazy fisherman. Wild Goose Warrior and The Beaver Tale are some of the favorites. It was nominated for a Minnesota Book Award in 2013.
Genny was born in Little Falls, MN and moved to Northeast Minneapolis at the age of six, a place that deeply influenced the writing of her first book, Heart and Hard Work, published in 1997, and now in its sixth printing. Genny's first story, A House No Longer Lived In, was published in the Polish American Journal in Buffalo, New York in 1990.
Genny didn't start out as a writer. She was raised in a large family and didn't know how to get her thoughts out to others so she would daydream and sketch people, houses and landscapes. As an adult, she spent her life going from one part-time job to another. In the mid-1980s she discovered writing. Although she began her writing at North Hennepin College, it was in Maureen LaJoy's class at the Center for Developing Writers that really helped her to establish herself as a writer. Maureen believed in her, taught her about technique and helped her form a routine.