Genny Zak Kieley, Minneapolis Historian

In my series on writers, please welcome a well-known writer of Minneapolis history and memoirs, with four published books, which I will highlight tomorrow.

Genny Zak Kieley is a non-fiction writer. She 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; Memories of Nordeast Minneapolis.

 Genny’s first story A House No Longer Lived In was published in Polish American Journal in Buffalo, New York in1990.

Heart and Hard Work published in 1997 is now in its sixth printing, and has sold 7,800 copies. It was not on the best seller list, but sure made a lot of Northeast Minneapolis people happy and also held the distinction of the most likely to disappear from the Northeast Community Library.

Here is what Genny has to say about her writing:

I didn’t start out as a writer; my background is in art. I was kind of a shy kid and came from a large family. I didn’t know how to get my thoughts out to others so I would daydream a lot and sketched people and other things like houses and landscapes. I wanted so much to be an artist; so when I couldn’t go to art school I was devastated. We just didn’t have the money.  I spent my life going from one part time job to another. None of them suited me. The ones I liked the best were picture framing and waitressing.

I was a late bloomer and discovered so much in later life. In the mid-1980s I took an interest in genealogy and signed up for a few classes at North Hennepin Community College. It was there I discovered writing. Although I began my writing there; it was a class with Maureen LaJoy at the Center for Developing Writers that really helped me to establish myself as a writer. Maureen believed in me, taught me about technique and helped me form a routine; so I could fit writing into my life.

A typical writing day for me: I have an office but I spend most of my creating time in my bedroom in a super comfy recliner that I handwrite everything. The best stuff seems to flow from my heart to my hand and onto the page. Almost anything distracts me so I don’t listen to music and my room can’t be too messy. Music and art inspire me though. The lay out on the page of a book is important to me too.

I write as a job and for my own pleasure. I try to keep a journal but I don’t write in it every day. I write for myself and to connect with others. I don’t always have the time to write and it is getting harder and harder for me to switch gears between home and family, business and pleasure. The lines get clouded. About once a year or so I get a little bogged down with writer’s block and forget what is most important in life. Writing makes me happy. I write whenever I can, but lately seem to have a busy life with other commitments.
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 In addition to her series on Northeast Minneapolis and her memoirs of the 50's and 60's, Genny has a few more projects currently in the works.
  • Sequal to Green Stamps tentatively titled— More Green Stamps to Hot Pants: Growing up in the 50s and 60s
  • Book of Short Stories called Daughter # Five, Fisherman’s Wife
  • A Memoir called A Mother’s Journal: Journey Back to Hope after the death of my son
Genny spoke and signed books November 19 at Borders Books at The Shoppes at Arbor Lake, in Maple Grove, MN, from 5:30 to about 9.  She appeared at Maple Grove Arts Center on December 4, from 3 to 7 p.m.



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