Kossy, Donna J. 1957-
KOSSY, Donna J. 1957-
Born May 18, 1957, in Chicago, IL; daughter of Irving and Joyce Kossy; married Ken DeVries (an artist), August 17, 1993. Education: Hampshire College, B.A., 1979. Hobbies and other interests: Watching birds and wildlife.
Office—Book Happy Booksellers, P.O. Box 86663, Portland, OR 97286. E-mail—[email protected].
Computer programmer, 1982-88; worked for small publishers, 1988-92; freelance writer, Portland, OR, 1992—. Book Happy Booksellers, owner, 1999—.
Kooks: A Guide to the Outer Limits of Human Belief, Feral House, 1994, expanded edition, 2001.
Strange Creations: Aberrant Ideas of Human Origins from Ancient Astronauts to Aquatic Apes, Feral House, 2001.
Contributor to periodicals, including Utne Reader, Alternative Press Review, Puncture, and Portland Mercury. Editor and publisher, Book Happy; past editor and publisher of False Positive and Kooks.
Donna J. Kossy told CA: "I never intended to be a writer. I only began writing, out of necessity, when I was the editor and publisher of several small magazines (usually known as 'zines). I began my first, False Positive, as a hobby, while working as a computer programmer in downtown San Francisco in the mid-1980s. I was also a collage artist and wanted to share my punk and surrealist-influenced collages, as well as some of the weird images, publications, and flyers I was collecting at the time with my friends and correspondents. The absolute weirdest material I put into a section called 'The Kooks Pages.' These were usually flyers that some of the most disturbed or divinely inspired people in San Francisco had handed me on the street. These flyers defied all reason; they were funny, and in some cases, it was hard to believe they even existed. I just had to share them with the world.
"In no time, I became known in 'zine circles as the 'kook lady,' and all kinds of unsolicited 'kook' material began appearing in my mailbox. This included the writings of insane people, religious fanatics, and political extremists, as well as material that was much more difficult to classify. I put them all into my 'kook files' for eventual study and classification.
"A few years later, after the novelty of their existence had worn off, I became curious about what was behind all the kooks. I began researching the background and history of some of the ideas (for example, the idea that the Anglo-Saxons are the descendants of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel) and wrote them up into articles for my new 'zine, Kooks. This was the first time I had ever enjoyed writing; I was doing original research and was deeply interested in the material. Kooks magazine went out to a select few, and I had no clue that my research or writings could appeal to a wider audience. Later Feral House offered me a book deal for what would eventually become my first book, Kooks: A Guide to the Outer Limits of Human Belief. I enjoyed the challenge of writing for an audience beyond my associates in the underground press, so after the first book came out, I was ready to write another.
"While Kooks had been a collection of short pieces, for my second book I wanted to focus more narrowly on one topic. I had written an article for a music magazine about a strange book that had been one of the inspirations for the band DEVO. That book—and my article about it—became the inspiration for my next book, Strange Creations: Aberrant Ideas of Human Origins from Ancient Astronauts to Aquatic Apes.
"All in all, the inspiration for my writing comes primarily from weird publications and subsequent research into related topics in history, science, religion, and psychology."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, August, 2001, Mike Tribby, review of Strange Creations: Aberrant Ideas of Human Origins from Ancient Astronauts to Aquatic Apes, p. 2060.
Utne Reader, May-June, 1995, Steve Perry, review of Kooks: A Guide to the Outer Limits of Human Belief, p. 103.
Whole Earth Review, winter, 1987, Jeanne Carstensen, review of False Positive, p. 44; summer, 1995, Paul Wintermitz, review of Kooks, p. 106.