20 Questions for Author Frank Delaney of Kent, CT
In literary circles, Frank Delaney is best known as a best-selling novelist and radio and television interviewer. In the Rural Intelligence region, he’s known as a bon vivant and husband of the exuberant novelist Diane Meier. Delaney’s latest novel, The Matchmaker of Kenmare, is a love story set during World War II in his native Ireland. “Delaney’s brand of Irish fabulism is still a delight to read,” said Kirkus Reviews of his new book. “The novel burnishes this veteran writer’s reputation as a consummate storyteller. One of the best fictional wartime couples animates veteran Delaney’s darkly wistful novel.”
1. How did you end up moving to Kent?
Cherchez la femme, the French would say – “seek the woman”! Diane and I had been friends for a decade and more; we had always liked each other enormously and had met several times before romance pranced in. When it did—she had an old house in Kent, Ct., I had an old house in Somerset, England; but she had a dog, a German short-haired pointer name of Coco, too old for the risk of quarantine—so I moved to the U.S. of A.
2. What’s your favorite way to spend a Friday night?
It used to be playing cards, with friends or strangers; now it’s watching old movies, preferably 1939 - which is what Diane likes to do.
3. What’s your favorite way to spend a Sunday morning?
If I’m not working (and I often am) it’s choring at home, attacking the pleasingly mundane tasks that have to be done, and by which I preserve my sanity.
4. Where’s you favorite spot for bargain hunting?
Woodbury’s good, though maybe not for bargains; I like Johnsons in Millerton and have picked up some terrific stuff there. And with my mild addiction to lamps of all kinds, I also like Shandells in Millerton, inventive and eclectic; and Michael Trapp’s cave of majestic exotica in Cornwall. And, of course, Joan Osofsky’s inimitable Hammertown Barn.
5. Where do you go for a self-indulgent splurge?
Hah! Easy-peasy to answer this one: Jonathan Derwin’s R. Derwin Clothiers in Litchfield. Jonathan is in himself a total delight; he has splendid taste, is endlessly supportive and interested, and the shop is engagingly laid out. And J. Seitz in New Preston, where Ron Leal now adds his outstanding renown to a shop in which it’s virtually impossible NOT to buy something.
6. What’s your favorite one-hour drive from your house?
One-hour drive? There are so many. Lake Waramaug is too near to qualify: I think the Rhinebeck corridor along the Hudson must be the most alluring – beautiful in most weathers.
7. What’s your favorite historical site?
In the world? Delphi in Greece. In the United States? The Independence area of Philadelphia. In Connecticut? Kent has a deep and interesting history, and it’s now getting carefully preserved and brought to life again.
8. What three things do you alway do with house guests?
Feed them. Talk, talk, talk with them. Let them fall asleep by the pool.
9. What’s your favorite bookstore or bookstores?
Again, easy: Fran Keilty’s The Hickory Stick in Washington, Conn. She reads so accurately that you can always trust her recommendations, and the (beautifully run) shop has a compelling atmosphere. And her husband, Michael Keilty, is one of Connecticut’s – and America’s – most remarkable men, a man so rounded in his knowledge, practices and his perceptions that he would certainly have been a Founding Father had he been around back in the day.
10. What’s your favorite hardware store and/or garden center?
During all the construction work we’ve undertaken we’ve been relying on Northwest Lumber in Cornwall, but for the everyday essentials we would be lost and adrift without Kent TrueValue Hardware.
11. Where do you shop for clothes?
See my answer to Question 5 above – R. Derwin & Son Man’s Shop in Litchfield – marvelous range, comforting and exciting all at once.
12. Who do you trust to recommend wines?
Bill Fore at County Wines in New Preston; Jo Kimball in Sharon – their selections are among the best I’ve seen in years especially, and in both cases, their claret petits chateaux and the lesser-known but outstanding Spanish labels. And Ira, encyclopaedically knowledgeable, at Kent Wine & Spirits.
13. Who are your local heroes?
Without hesitation, the Kent Volunteer Firefighters. And all such volunteer firefighters in Litchfield County.
14. What newspapers or blogs do you read every day?
New York Times, Wall Street Journal, BBC News, Irish Times, Scotsman, Le Monde – all online and sometimes, for sport and politics, Corriere Della Sera.
15. Where and when do you write?
Two locations: my study in our Kent barn; and the New York office.
16. Where’s your favorite place for live performance?
The Olivier, the largest of the three auditoria in the Royal National Theater, London; the auditorium in Epidaurus on which it is based (though I think that Epidaurus has the better acoustic print); the two Roman amphitheaters in Arles and Nimes, France.
17. Who are your favorite local authors?
Diane Meier; Edmund Morris.
18. What’s your favorite small-town tradition in Kent?
The parades – Firemen’s and Memorial Day; I love the way American small towns run themselves; and their decency and modesty are on show in such parades.
19. What’s your secret for coping with winter?
Wrap up warm. Shut up about it. And work.
20. What are you most looking forward to doing this summer?
Getting my garage to rights, thus having a workbench up and running. And seeing Diane enjoying the pool!