‘The Most Exhilarating Year of My Life’: Q&A with Funkytown Author Paul Kennedy

‘The Most Exhilarating Year of My Life’: Q&A with Funkytown Author Paul Kennedy

Briefly tell us about your book.

Funkytown is a memoir about my last year of high school in 1993. I was a scared 17-year-old trying to find some direction in the chaos of Frankston, Victoria, which was in the grip of the hunt for a serial killer. My insecurities were motivating me, but also causing me to self-destruct. The book is about the importance of friends, family, teachers and hope against fear.

What inspired the idea behind this book?

Funkytown has been asking me to write it for many years. My memories are vivid from that time – the most exhilarating year of my life. I made some very bad decisions in 1993 and I needed to find some resolution in the regrets I took with me into adulthood. Ultimately, the timing of the book was inspired by the current public discussion about masculinity. I wanted to examine my experiences in relation to the culture of boys becoming men.

What are you hoping the reader will take away from reading your book?

I’m hoping readers will recognise the themes of the book as themes in their life. For young readers, I hope to show that it’s unhealthy to reject or supress important feelings. I also want to celebrate the importance of mentors – like my high school English teacher Mrs Mac, who saved me from completely falling apart.

What was the most challenging part of writing this book?

My greatest challenge was to find my youthful voice and move away from a 25-year journalistic style of writing. I needed to tell the story of a 17-year-old boy without imparting too much middle-aged wisdom. I wrote many drafts before I discovered the authenticity I needed.

How did you think of the title of the book?

The title – Funkytown – came from the name my friends and family used for our home of Frankston. I like it for its playfulness and the memories it conjures.

What’s some great advice you’ve received that has helped you as a writer?

In the years of preparation I had for writing this book I read and reread many memoirs. I also read books about writing memoirs. The best advice I came across was to apply the greatest scrutiny to one character in particular – me. In memoir writing, the game is rigged because the author is the only person who gets to have their say. I took that responsibility very seriously.

Buy a copy of Funkytown here.

Reviews

A Moving Australian Story: Read an Extract from Funkytown by Paul Kennedy

Review | Extract

14 October 2021

A Moving Australian Story: Read an Extract from Funkytown by Paul Kennedy

    A Brilliant Coming-of-Age Memoir: Read Our Review of Funkytown by Paul Kennedy

    Review | Our Review

    12 October 2021

    A Brilliant Coming-of-Age Memoir: Read Our Review of Funkytown by Paul Kennedy

      Publisher details

      Funkytown
      Author
      Paul Kennedy
      Publisher
      Affirm Press
      Genre
      Biography and Memoir
      Released
      28 September, 2021
      ISBN
      9781922419828

      Synopsis

      It is 1993: a serial killer is loose on the streets of Frankston, Victoria. The community is paralysed by fear, and a state’s police force and national media come to find a killer. Meanwhile, seventeen-year-old Paul Kennedy is searching for something else entirely. He is focused on finishing school, getting drafted into the AFL and falling in love. So much can change in a year.

      The rites of passage for many Australian teenage boys – blackout drinking, simmering violence and emotional suppression – take their toll, and the year that starts with so much promise ends with Kennedy expelled, arrested and undrafted. But one teacher sees Kennedy self-destructing, and becomes determined to set him on another path.

      Told with poignancy and humour, and evoking the brilliant,dusty haze of late Australian summer, Funkytown is a love letter to adolescence, football, family and outer suburbia

      Paul Kennedy
      About the author

      Paul Kennedy

      Paul Kennedy is an ABC television presenter with twenty-five years’ journalistic experience. His four previous books include Hell on the Way to Heaven (co-authored with Chrissie Foster), which helped Australian survivors of child sex abuse achieve the nation’s largest Royal Commission. Paul is married with three sons and lives in Seaford, Victoria. 

      Books by Paul Kennedy

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