Kissing, Steve 1963-
KISSING, Steve 1963-
Born 1963, in Cincinnati, OH; married; children: two daughters. Religion: Catholic. Hobbies and other interests: Fly-fishing.
Home—8440 Lynnehaven Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45236-1416. Office—HSR Business to Business, 300 East Business Way, Suite 500, Cincinnati, OH 45241. Agent—Linda Roghaar, Linda Roghaar Literary Agency, Inc., Amherst, MA 01002.
Writer, advertising copywriter, and editor. HSR Business to Business (advertising firm), Cincinnati, OH, associate creative director.
American Advertising Federation and the Society of Professional Journalists awards.
Running from the Devil: A Memoir of a Boy Possessed, Crossroad Publishing (New York, NY), 2003.
Also a contributing editor to Cincinnati magazine.
WORK IN PROGRESS:
Another memoir that describes the demons Kissing has run away from as an adult.
An award-winning advertising copywriter, Steve Kissing turned to the memoir format for his first published book, the 2003 title Running from the Devil: A Memoir of a Boy Possessed. Kissing applies tongue-in-cheek and laugh-out-loud humor in this personal tale of a young Catholic boy growing up in Cincinnati who experiences seizures (they were later diagnosed as a form of epilepsy) and believes he is being possessed by the devil. Begun as a magazine piece for the Cincinnati magazine in the year 2000, Kissing's autobiography grew to book length once he received positive reader response on his article.
When he was in the fifth grade, Kissing, a self-confessed "Prince of Dorkness," began having mild seizures and hallucinations in which the teacher's pencil holder grew to the size of a shovel and a film strip became a tuba. Convinced that the devil was after his very soul, Kissing fought back. Too frightened or timid to ask for help, he battled this personal demon on his own, turning to long-distance running to exorcize the beast. He also began a regimen of praying that would make most cloistered priests seem indolent by comparison. Along with this basic story line, Kissing introduces real characters from his past: a grandfather fond of gargling with bleach, a mother who liked to try out new hairstyles on her children, a father who ran backwards, and an uncle who gave bread instead of candy for Halloween. In the memoir, Kissing re-creates the 1970s with references to leisure suits, Transcendental Meditation, and Afro hairstyles. Kissing's private battle went on for eight years until Kissing finally discovered the physical problem causing his hallucinations.
"I worked hard to keep the story as true as possible," Kissing told Tim Bete in an interview for the University of Dayton Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop Web site, "at least as it concerned the major details as well as the small ones that were likewise important. I chose not to worry about whether some old girlfriend's eyes were really blue or green, or whether some wacky event happened in the sixth grade or seventh. I let memory dictate these things."
Critics responded warmly to Kissing's humorous yet poignant tale. America contributor James Martin thought the book "might be the oddest and yet most enjoyable Catholic memoir you will read this year." Martin further noted that while Running from the Devil "is, essentially, about a painful topic, Mr. Kissing's unfailing sense of humor, his affection for his faith and his self-deprecating manner make it an enjoyable and even inspiring book." Similarly, a reviewer for Publishers Weekly found it a "bizarre and humorous memoir." For this same critic, the thing that "makes this a compelling story is that readers live inside the mind of a Catholic over-achiever." Jim Knippenberg, writing in the Cincinnati Enquirer Online, felt that "Kissing tells his tale with wry and merciless self-mockery," and further praised the "oddball characters" that populate the pages of this memoir. And Mary Prokop, reviewing the debut book in Library Journal, commented, "Not only is Kissing's story truly riveting, he is also a talented writer with a great sense of humor."
Kissing noted to Bete that childhood provides a rich vein of material for writers. "Experience has taught me that we all have plenty of weird and unusual and embarrassing experiences in our past, particularly in our childhoods."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
ADWEEK (Midwest edition), October 14, 2003, Trevor Jansen, "HSR Reorders Management Ranks."
America, June 23, 2003, James Martin, review of Running from the Devil: A Memoir of a Boy Possessed, p. 2.
Library Journal, May 1, 2003, Mary Prokop, review of Running from the Devil, p. 121.
Publishers Weekly, April 28, 2003, review of Running from the Devil, p. 67.
Cincinnati Enquirer Online,http://www.enquirer.com/ (May 13, 2003), Jim Knippenberg, "'Running' Memoir of West-Side Boyhood."
Running from the Devil Web site,http://www.runningfromthedevil.com/ (October 30, 2003).
University of Dayton Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop Web site,http://www.humorwriters.org/SteveKissing.html/ (October 30, 2003), Tim Bete, "An Interview with the Prince of Dorkness."*