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Interview: Dina Kucera, Author of Everything I Never Wanted To Be

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After reading this woman’s interview, I couldn’t help but smile, giggle and fight an overwhelming urge to run right out and grab her book.  Through difficult and nearly impossible times, Dina Kucera has found the light at the end of the tunnel and shares with readers her struggles, very openly and with humor.

Dina Kucera is a writer and stand up comic who lives in Phoenix AZ.  She lives with her husband, mother, grandson, youngest daughter and her boyfriend, oldest, pregnant daughter and her girlfriend and her sick dog Squirt.  She is currently addicted to “social media.” Her present book is Everything I Never Wanted to Be. 

You can visit Ms. Kucera’s website at www.dinakucera.com.

Please tell us a bit about your book: Everything I Never Wanted To Be — characters, plot, etc.

It’s about a giant family, all addicted to drugs and/ or alcohol. With me being, shamefully, one of the leaders. A family that has endured almost one hundred years of addiction without a single person thinking there was any other way to live. Generation, after generation, getting more extreme and deadly than the previous. Things began to look different when the youngest of the gene pool, my daughter Carly, began using drugs at thirteen and became a heroin addict by the age of fifteen. With no warning, the one hundred years of laying the foundation of drug and alcohol abuse, completely crumbled around our feet. But we are all still here. The best way to rise up is from the ashes.

If you could meet, in person, any of your characters, who would it be and why?

I would like to meet my mom when she was young. My mom said she never really had any friends. I would be her friend. And I’d like to meet Al Pacino. Oh, wait, he’s not in my book. Sorry.

If you could fictionalize yourself and put yourself in any situation, how would it play out? Could you give us a scene/scenario of such an occurrence?

I would not be an addict of any kind. I would be normal. My daughters would never remember a day I was intoxicated or sedated. I would be a really great, responsible mom. I would have taken them to school each morning and I would know all the other moms. We would stand in front of the school in the “responsible mom circle” and drink cups of hot tea and talk nonstop about our children. I’d be wearing a dress, belted, and sensible flat mom pumps. Then I’d go back to a condo somewhere and work all day on dinner. I’d be normal. Completely normal. But I would still be funny. Could I still be funny? If you took all this “stuff” away? And if I had to choose, crazy and funny or boring, normal and responsible? The insane thing is that I can’t answer that. Now we’ve established exactly how not normal I am.

Do you have any particular habits that you do while writing? Places you write the best, foods, drinks, etc that help set your “writing mood”?

Number one thing… I HAVE to have my music playing in the background. (Pandora, AOL music channels) I alternate between Red Bull, sweet tea and coke. (a-cola) I’m not a big eater. And I find if I’m writing, I’m worse. If I get focused, I can not eat for as long as it takes to write what I’m writing. So if I’m ever working on something and suddenly, I just trail off in to silence, you know I’ve passed out from malnutrition. The music is KEY?

What are you reading right now?

Just finished Sarah Silverman, The Bedwetter. It was okay. Tomorrow I’m going to get the new Jonathan Franzen, Freedom. Oprah says it’s “epic.” One day Oprah will say my book is “epic.”

Who are some of your favorite authors and/or books?

I read memoirs and drug addiction books at such a pace that the bookstore can’t keep up with my demand. I love a funny memoir. Everything Is Wrong With Me by Jason Mulgrew. Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher. I love Augusten Burroughs, David Sedaris. My favorite book ever is A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. John Grisham, Wally Lamb, Alice Hoffman. I just love books. All kinds. I love books.

If you could meet any author, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

Mark Twain. The things he writes, so simple, so perfect, so amazing. I think he was brilliant. Every Mark Twain quote or line still applies today and makes perfect sense in a completely different world. His words never sound old or outdated. Because he was a genius.

Okay, here are a few “get to know you better” questions:

Please share with us a favorite memory.

Many of my favorite memories involve backrooms of comedy clubs. For many years I had such a heavy heart. Our lives would be shattered, but I would have a comedy job booked. So I’d carry my heavy heart to the club and do the thing. You know, you still have to show up for life. One time in particular, things were really bad with Carly. She was out, I didn’t know where and I was real weary at this point. I was broken in half. I got to the comedy club and saw a group of comedians talking. I know them and walk up and they are doing what all comedians are doing in back rooms of comedy clubs. Going back and forth trying to “out funny” each other. Of course I join in. After about half an hour, there was about seven of us going back and forth. Then we became uncontrollably hysterical on the subject. The subject was something about midgets. We were all falling over laughing forever. Crying, holding our stomachs. This went on for hours. As I was driving away, I thought, those guys have no idea what they just did for me. They took me away. They brought me up enough to be able to wake up the next day and show up for life again. Smile at people in the mall, thank the drive thru guy, chit chat with the checker, all with a completely broken heart. Then I thought how lucky I am to have this thing I get to do that breaks up all the fear and sadness. What do other people do if they aren’t a stand up comic? I have found my salvation hundreds of times in the back rooms of comedy club. Comics have saved my life time and time again, and I don’t even think they know this. Thankfully, I was able to thank them in the front of my book?

Please describe a perfect meal — including menu and those present.

When Carly was 11 or 12 we began going to a restaurant called “Los Sombreros.” We always ordered the Tortilla Soup and Chile Rellenos and shared them. It is an expensive place so we would sneak off without telling my husband. We would laugh in the restaurant when he would call and I would say we were at McDonalds. So for many years of Carly’s drug use we didn’t go because she was gone in a facility or out on the streets. But now we go again. It’s our place, just me and Carly. We order the exact same thing. It’s a really great day when I get to sit with Carly and have great food at our place?

What are some of your favorite ways to relax?

TV. I am a television junkie. For a time I wanted to write for television so I completely appreciate a well written show. The Office, Modern Family, Parenthood, Brothers and Sisters. I also love the reality shows. The completely horrible stupid, adding nothing to my brain but poison shows. Jersey Shore…. Anything that has the word housewives attached to it, American Idol. Aahhh…. I love TV.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

La Jolla, San Diego on the beach. It’s so beautiful. I love when the ocean is covered with fog and then it begins to lift and you see the ocean. I love La Jolla.

If you could only read books by one author, who would it be? *I know, this is an inconceivable thought, lol.

Wow. Alice Hoffman seems to write more books than Wally Lamb…. So, Alice Hoffman.

Share with us a few of your dreams. Also whether they have been fulfilled or are still a work in progress.

Just that we could all be well at the same time. I feel we are for the first time really moving toward that and I have so much hope. I think it will happen. I pray it will happen. I pray for me and the girls that we move towards the concept that we are on the planet for a more purposeful life. Dreams change. I used to dream about writing a book, then I dreamed I would publish a book. There is no author out there more grateful than I am right now. But I think we are always a work in progress until the day….. Oh, we get hit by a bus. Then the work is done.

What are some of your guilty pleasures?

Two or three times a year, John and I go to Vegas for a night. Good times. And then there is my “Jean” addiction. There is a store called “Buckle.” The hottest jeans in the world. But the jeans are expensive. I explain to John (my husband) that I have to get them because I have to go up and be a comedian in front of so many people. I don’t mean to brag, but for an old lady, I wear the shit out of those jeans. Just saying.

If you could leave the world with one piece of advice, what would it be?

Someone feed Grandma.

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